Whisk together a grandfather who is pretending to be able to cook, a recently hurt in love and job granddaughter who can cook, and you get a codger who has a cooking column he claims that are entirely reasonable and honest representations of his cooking genius. Add a murder (and a propensity to snoop), and you get Scam Chowder. As usual, a punny title, a bit of somewhat predictable romance, and food and what do you get? A cozy murder mystery with recipes in the last few pages. This one is the second in a series that features five ingredient recipes and is written by Maya Corrigan (a pseudonym, of course) whose website, which also features trivia, can be found here.
Not surprisingly given its title, and its setting in the parts of Maryland associated with the Bay, clam chowder is a main player in this cozy. In many ways, the book delivers -- if what you want, as I do, is a quick read, a tiny bit of food related info, and a fairly predictable plot. This one does have some puzzling aspects, of course, and is reasonably seasoned with oddballs, though I enjoyed Val (the main character) less than her grandfather (who was irritating even to this reader, but also kind of sweet and caricatured). I do wish that our portrayals of elderly folks were not so often predictable -- involving dithering, the risk of financial fraud, and elder romance. But, I suppose that once we get there ourselves we will know how much these very same stereotypes are real (or not). (I also wish that 60 did not seem so old to so many characters in this sort of mystery.)
On the food front: I had no idea how many clam chowder recipes there were in the world. I had thought of it as basically two: white and red. In this mystery, one learns as well about lower calorie/lower dairy ones, labeled "light" in the book. Not a surprise to most of you probably, but to me: who knew? I admit I am not a clam person, and thus have never had any of the varieties, preferring my chowder to involve corn and potatoes or lobster.
On the silly plot front:: I do think the notion of jealousy leading people to do stupid things to the new person in their ex's life is a bit time worn, but there are a few here that are pretty legendary. The [SPOILER ALERT] apology is, though, a new idea. (Kidding?)
So, all in all: it was worth less than I paid for it (because I have been reading a lot of free mysteries that were much better obtained from the piles in the condo library), it did help me do what I wanted -- which was disappear for a while into someone else's world/imagination. The puzzle was fair, the characters included a few dandies, and . . . . well, no one said I had to eat the chowder.