My Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Age Category: Adult
Type of romance: MF
The first in a delicious new culinary cozy series featuring a grilled cheese eatery owner who must solve murders in her small town before she is put under lock and brie
Back in Balsam Dell to heal after the death of her husband, Carly Hale is finally pursuing her lifelong dream—opening Carly’s Grilled Cheese Eatery. After only five months, business is booming as Vermont vacationers and townspeople alike flock to lunch on her Party Havartis and other grilled cheese concoctions. All but Lyle Bagley, Carly’s one-time high school boyfriend and now town bully who just bought the building that houses her eatery and wants Carly out. After a muenster of a fight, Carly’s forced to put her nose to the rind and find a solution to keep her business afloat.
That is…until Lyle is discovered dead behind the dumpster of Carly’s shop, and one of her employees becomes the prime suspect. In order to save her eatery and prove her friend’s innocence, Carly must sleuth out the killer before she’s the one who gets grilled.
With a delightful cast of characters, an inventive amateur sleuth, and a whole host of cheesy hijinks, Up to No Gouda is the perfect cozy murder mystery to melt into.
I received a free copy from the publisher through Netgalley and voluntarily reviewed it.
I like food related cozy mysteries and the cover of this one caught my eye. It sounded like a fun one so I requested it. I enjoyed Up to No Gouda and it’s a great start to this new series. The story follows Carly who returned to her home town and started her own grilled cheese shop. Lyle is the new owner of the building she’s renting and he wants to evict her, but then the next morning she turns up dead. One of Carly’s employees becomes the main suspects and Carly gets involved trying to help solve the mystery.
I enjoyed the mystery in this one. The way Carly got involved made sense and I liked the way she handled the investigation. She mostly tried talking to people and I liked how she forged a sincere connection with some of the possible suspects. The mystery seems straightforward at first, but as the story progresses it becomes more complicated and it’s clear a lot of people didn’t like Lyle. There are a few clear suspects, but none of them felt quite right and only late in the story we find out why. The mystery has a great twist at the end and I didn’t guess the murderer. I did like how the murderer made sense and there are some hints pointing in that direction.
I liked Carly and reading about her and her store. She seems like a nice person and her passion for serving the grilled cheese sandwiches is clear. I like how she treated her employees and cared about them. There’s a bit of a sad backstory about her husband who died before she returned to her home town. I liked seeing Carly find her place again in this town and the way she interacts with other characters. She has some good friends around. I liked reading about the food she served and the restaurant. Carly meets the dog shown on the cover, but it doesn’t play as big of a role here. There is a hint of romance as well.
To summarize: I enjoyed Up to No Gouda. Carly is a likable character and I enjoyed reading about her grilled cheese restaurant. Carly’s love for food and especially grilled cheese sandwiches is obvious. The way she gets involved in the mystery made sense and I liked following Carly along as she tries to solve it. The reveal at the end was a good one. I didn’t manage to guess who the murderer was, but liked how there are hints in that direction. I am looking forward to the next book in this series!