Cheddar Off Dead: A Cheese Shop Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – California
St. Martin’s Paperbacks (March 29, 2022)
Mass Market Paperback : 304 pages
ISBN-10 : 1250795192
ISBN-13 : 978-1250795199
Kindle ASIN : B09C4FZDD5
In Korina Moss’s cozy series debut, Cheddar Off Dead, cheesemonger Willa Bauer discovers that her new home in a small Sonoma Valley town is ripe for murder… something here stinks to high heaven, and Willa knows it’s not the cheese.
Cheesemonger Willa Bauer is proving that sweet dreams are made of cheese. She’s opened her very own French-inspired cheese shop, Curds & Whey, in the heart of the Sonoma Valley. The small town of Yarrow Glen is Willa’s fresh start, and she’s determined to make it a success – starting with a visit from the local food critic. What Willa didn’t know is that this guy never gives a good review, and when he shows up nothing goes according to plan. She doesn’t think the night can get any worse… until she finds the critic’s dead body, stabbed with one of her shop’s cheese knives. Now a prime suspect, Willa has always believed life’s problems can be solved with cheese, but she’s never tried to apply it to murder…
Welcome to Yarrow Glen and the new Curds & Whey Cheese shop. Willa Bauer has opened the shop as a fresh start in the heart of the Sonoma Valley. She has always believed life’s problems can be solved with cheese. She can’t wait to share her mantra and her cheeses with all the residents of her new home.
Hoping to get the shop off to a good start she is looking forward to having a local food critic review the place. But then she learns this critic rarely gives a good review.
The man finally arrives late and clearly intoxicated right in the middle of a cheesemaking class Willa is having for her new neighbors and he is not happy with the people attending the class. After making some threats he leaves much to Willa’s dismay. He didn’t even taste any of the cheese. The class quickly wraps up and Willa is worried about the fate of her shop when he pens a horrible review.
Her worries get substantially worse when she finds the man dead. Stabbed with one of her new cheese knives. Cheese is not going to solve this problem. To save herself and her shop she is going to need to find the killer before the cheese really hits the fan.
Cheesemonger Willa Bauer took a roundabout path before opening her shop in Yarrow Glen. She grew up on a family farm in Oregon but left to travel the world learning about all types of cheese before opening Curds & Whey, so she is very knowledgeable about her product. She has hired two wonderful employees, Archie, a recent high school graduate, and Mrs. Schulz, a retired schoolteacher. We also meet her neighbor Baz who works around town as a handyman. All three are familiar with the town and what makes it tick. Mrs. Schultz was my favorite. “Very matter of fact, but also a little out there”. I loved the ideas she and Archie come up with to promote the shop. Ms. Moss gives us a nice introduction to these core characters while leaving plenty of room for growth.
The mystery was well written but with the small suspect pool, I did focus on one individual pretty quickly. Each clue just kept reinforcing my theory. I did enjoy the way Willa, Baz, Archie, and Mrs. Schultz banded together to try to catch the killer. The pace at which the mystery unfolded was a little slow for me but I can attribute that to being the first book in the series and the necessity to introduce all the characters and the settings.
This story is very similar to the Cheese Shop Mysteries written by Avery Aames so I did find myself comparing the two. Like Charlotte Bessette, Willa shares many tips and information about the production and flavors of many different types of cheeses. I am always looking for more cheesy recipes and hope that we are treated to more as this series continues. With the right development, Willa could become as impressive as Charlotte too.
Cheddar Off Dead is a good start for this series. To make me check into this series for the long haul I need Willa to have a little more depth and to pace herself and not jump so quickly to conclusions. I am a fan of some romance in my cozy mysteries but it felt like she was looking at every man in the book as a possible partner. I feel all the right elements have been laid out for a strong series, I look forward to seeing how the author builds on them in book two, Gone for Gouda.
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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.”