Early Review – Kale to the Queen by Nell Hampton

Kale to the Queen: A Kensington Palace Chef Mystery
Cozy Mystery
Brand New Series
Setting – United Kingdom
Crooked Lane Books (April 11, 2017)
Hardcover: 288 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1683311041



Chef Carrie Ann Cole is about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime–an assignment as the new Personal Chef to the Royal Family at Kensington Palace. But no sooner has Carrie Ann touched down across the pond and donned her apron than a dead body crops up beneath the royal kale beds.

With one assistant dead and the other soon under suspicion for his murder, Carrie Ann is scrambling to keep her kitchen up and running. Not to mention she gets off to an immediate bad start with the tempestuous Royal Chef Butterbottom, who has a bitter taste in his mouth since the prestigious position in the Royal Family’s kitchen was given to an “over-privileged, under-educated American chef.”

But the Royal Family’s appetites wait for no one, and Carrie Ann must solve the murder and still get supper on the table on time–even with the annoyingly handsome Head of Security Ian Gordon tracking her every move like an MI6 agent. Suspects abound as an American chef adds a bit of spice to the traditional royal household in the first in Nell Hampton’s charming and tasty Kensington Palace Chef Mystery series, Kale to the Queen.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

A fun debut for this series. It reminds me of Julie Hyzy’s White House Chef Mysteries.

Nell Hampton takes us behind the scenes of Kensington Palace as Chef Carrie Ann Cole leaves the U.S. to become the personal family chef for the Prince, Princess and their 2 children. She leaves her boyfriend of 6 years back in the States as they take a break so she call follow her dream. She hits the ground running preparing her first meal for the family soon after arriving at the palace. Then the next morning she finds one of her assistants dead and the other one is quickly arrested as the killer. What has she gotten herself into? She didn’t know her assistants well but she just can’t fathom that one would kill the other. So in addition to serving spectacular meals to her Royal Family, she now is trying to find a murderer.  Head of Security Ian Gordon is not happy with her chopping her way into the case. His job is too keep everyone in the palace safe, including her, and she is making his job very difficult.

I liked Carrie Anne immediately. At first I thought she was going to in over her head with this important job, but as soon as she got into her kitchen she was in control. The other chef in the palace, Royal Chef Butterbottom, dislikes her immediately, first because he thinks he should be the only chef and second because she is an American. He has his own kitchen and takes care of the events and dinners at the palace. Carrie Anne cooks for the family. Due to circumstances beyond their control is becomes impossible to avoid each other. This adds a little unexpected drama to the story. The author introduces several other members of the palace staff. The Royal Family stays pretty much in the background.

The palace itself and the area surrounding it are new to Carrie Anne, so the reader gets to follow along with her as she learns all the floors, rooms, hallways and even some local pubs. She also takes “the tube” to get to the markets and interesting other places. The descriptions are stellar, even telling us what a trek it is to use the stairway instead the elevator when reaching her stop in the city. The kitchens, Carrie Anne’s suite, and traveling to and from are all written in a way that makes us feel like we are there or maybe a fly on the wall.

The mystery is so well plotted. Everything is new to our chef. She really knows no one, who can she trust and who would even listen to her ideas? Ian Gordon, the Head of Security, seems friendly enough but will he just humor her or take her seriously? The story progresses at a nice pace and Carrie Anne makes some questionable decisions. She really surprised me the way she didn’t hold back, she was going to find the truth no matter what.

This series is off to a fantastic start. Chef Carrie Ann Cole evolved ten fold from the first page to the last with just a couple of moments of doubt in between. I am very excited to see where the author takes us in future stories. The core characters have my attention. I can’t wait for my next visit across the pond.

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About the Author

An avid foodie and writer, Nell Hampton decided to finally combine her two loves. She lives in Richmond, VA. This is her first mystery. But you may also know her as Nancy J. Parra or Nancy Coco. Check out her webpage here. 

Written as Nancy Coco

Written as Nancy J. Parra

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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