This gift came with the perfect title, at the perfect time. I needed something deeply engrossing but not too challenging. And, as always, my partner came through with the right answer. A book entitled A Cookbook Conspiracy was just the ticket (to use her phrase). Why? The book combined a) my love for food with b) my appreciation of bibliophile mysteries with c) my glee at the arrival of gifts, especially unexpected ones, that are murder mysteries. This one had all these features and more. I liked the focus on a cookbook authored by someone named "Obedience." I liked the tension between sisters where one could cook extremely well (vegetarian and world class chief at that) and the other is a book binder. I have read mysteries by the author (Kate Carlisle) before, but this one really was a lot of fun.
Aside from the food fun -- including delightful descriptions of a set of non-foodie attempts to make syllabub as well as other failed efforts -- this mystery was fun because the author actually had to face the fact that her "heroine" (the book binder) keeps encountering dead bodies -- given that the books is pretty far into a series. I have always been baffled by this bit when it is an amateur detective; Jessica Fletcher seemed to find bodies everywhere she went. And it never seemed odd to her. Or anyone else. To me, though. . . .
In this case, I also liked the notion of an antiquarian cookbook authored by a woman, with entanglements with both British and US history. Loads of fun.
And, in the case of this series, the romance of the book binder does not overwhelm the rest of the fun. I especially like the consistency with which the book binder's background is developed -- raised by a kind of hippie (well, more than kind of) set of parents, in a place that comes to be called Dharma. This allows for all sorts of humor about new age-y things and that really makes me smile. And, her parents name her -- and her siblings -- for where they were conceived -- hence siblings Brooklyn (the main character), Savannah, and Austin. . . .
So, I will not give away the plot, nor even say much more, other than this was fun, I needed it, and I am grateful to the giver of the gift and the author of the book.
For another blogger's review of the book, try here.