Laura Child’s latest series,* Cackleberry Club Mysteries (Did you know cackleberry is slang for egg? I didn’t.) has three middle-aged women opening a breakfast/lunch restaurant that morphs into an afternoon tearoom and also sells books and knitting supplies on the side. I guess this makes sense as I can’t imagine that as stand-alone shops any one of these ventures would succeed in a small Midwestern town. These three friends have definitely cornered the niche market; all they need to do is do is add a small boutique or jewelry shop to appeal to all the women in town.
So far, I have read the first two books in the series, Eggs in Purgatory and Eggs Benedict Arnold. As mysteries, they are average. The stories ramble on with lots of suspects, but then seem to hurriedly come to a conclusion and especially in the second book, the murderer seems to come out of left field, but all the recipes sound delicious. I haven’t yet made anything from Eggs in Purgatory, but I want to try several including Cherry Pie Muffins, Chicken and Wild Rice Soup, and Easy Sour Cream Biscuits. I’ve tried two recipes from Eggs Benedict Arnold: Chicken Croquettes and Frozen Lemonade Pie. I would consider the Chicken Croquettes to be more like crab cakes than croquettes. Any croquettes I have ever eaten have had either a white sauce or mashed potatoes as a base with meat or vegetables mixed in, then were rolled in bread crumbs and deep fried. These had no white sauce or mashed potatoes, had the bread crumbs mixed in and were pan fried. But name quibble aside, they were quite tasty and the family all agreed they were worth making again. Next time though I’d add more cheese and use a heavier hand with the seasonings. The Frozen Lemonade Pie was very easy to make with just four ingredients, but was a little too sweet for my taste. (I don’t like things as sweet as most people. When I bake, I generally cut the sugar by 1/3.) If I make it again, I’d probably cut back on the sweetened condensed milk. The next recipe I want to try from the second book is Blueberry Breakfast Squares, which is a simple cake with a blueberry filling.
The verdict: average mysteries but worth reading, mainly for the recipes.
*Her earlier series are Tea Shop Mysteries and Scrapbook Mysteries.