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4.3 out of 5
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    Calamity cafe

    Great book first read. Hope there are more in the series. Author has other series and will look at them. Recipes are great.
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    First book in a new series!

    The Calamity Café by Gayle Leeson is the first book in A Down South Café Mystery series. Amy Flowers is ready to open her own café in Winter Garden, Virginia. She would love to buy Lou’s Joint where she has been working as a waitress for the last year (while taking care of her grandmother for the last year), but Lou Lou Holman does not wish to sell. Lou Lou’s son, Pete, though, would love for the restaurant to be sold (and get out from under his mother’s thumb). Amy could build her own place, but it would much easier to remodel an existing structure. Amy is surprised when she gets a call asking her to a meeting at the café to discuss the sale (Pete has been talking to his mom). Amy arrives at the café and no one answers. She goes back to the office and finds Lou Loud dead. Somehow, Amy ends up the prime suspect (just because she wanted to buy the place, had a disagreement with Lou Lou, and quit her job). If Amy wants to open her Down South Cafe, she will need to get her name off the suspect list (and hopefully solve the murder). The Calamity Café is not bad for a first book. With a little work, this could be a good series. The book has a good pace (which I liked) and I found the book easy to read. The characters need more development (of course), but they have potential. Amy cried a wee bit too much in this book (it got on my nerves). I liked that there were several suspects in the crime and is was interesting how it tied back to an eighty-year-old crime. I did wonder how Amy was planning on opening a café without a business plan, budget, etc. (they definitely help when opening a new business). I give The Calamity Café 3.5 out of 5 stars. I will be reading the next book in A Down South Café Mystery series. I received a complimentary copy of The Calamity Café in exchange for an honest evaluation of the book.
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    Great Start for Southern Cozy Series

    I received a complimentary copy of this book via NetGalley as a part of a book tour for a fair and honest review and rated it 4.5 out of 5 Stars. Dear Ms. Leeson …..you had me at cozy mystery including delicious Southern recipes. For those who know me, it’s no secret that I am both a bibliophile and a foodie, there is nothing I love more than sitting down with my kindle and gnoshing on a snack or meal, so when given the opportunity to read The Calamity Café, it was a no brainer. The first book in a new cozy mystery series is full of colorful characters, delicious food, a solid mystery and a light touch of romance. If you like cozy mysteries, especially those set in a small town in the South, then this is the book for you. Ms. Leeson does a great job introducing her primary character, Amy Flowers, a young woman trained to be a chef, who had come home to Winter Garden, Virginia to take care of her nana (grandmother) and has been waitressing at a local diner called Lou’s Joint. Owned by Lou-Lou, a bully, who smokes while she cooks, Lou’s joint is just the kind of restaurant that needs new ownership and when she inherits a sizable amount of money from her grandmother, Amy tries to buy it. Only Lou-Lou refuses to sell, at least until her son, talks her into it. When Amy arrives at the restaurant later that night to go over the sale and terms, she discovers Lou-Lou’s dead body and finds herself on the suspect list. I really liked Amy; she’s smart, funny and a generally nice person. I enjoyed watching her character develop and watching her develop her detective skills. The secondary characters are also colorful and well developed. I enjoyed getting to know Jackie, her cousin and best friend, who also works as a waitress at Lou’s Joint and Sarah, another close friend who works for the towns only attorney. We meet Roger, her oldest male friend, who also happens to be the contractor Amy hires to redesign and refurbish Lou’s joint after she purchases it from Lou-Lou’s only son Phil and renames it The Down South Cafe The list of possible suspects is more than a handful, apparently Lou-Lou never met a person she couldn’t offend, and it was fun watching Amy go through the list. The local sheriff’s office is investigating the case but the deputy, Ryan, doesn’t seem to mind letting Amy gather clues, which she then turns over to him. I found that a very interesting dynamic and different from most cozies where the police are pretty stringent about people staying out of their way. Ms. Leeson’s voice as an author is clear, easy to follow and enjoyable, something you would expect from an established writer. The story’s pace is good and there are plenty of twists and turns, especially when it comes to the multiple suspects and Lou-Lou’s family’s past, which keeps things interesting. There was no real graphic violence, though there is a bit of suspense near the end. Overall this is a very well written cozy and a great beginning for a new series. Will Amy discover who killed Lou-Lou and why? Will Amy’s remodel and renaming of Lou’s Joint work out? And will the developing romances between Jackie and Roger, and Amy and Deputy Ryan work out in the future? You’ll have to read The Calamity Café to find out, I enjoyed it and can’t wait to read the next installment.
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