Bookstore

AMATEUR SLEUTH/ HISTORICAL/
CULINARY MYSTERY
THE SPICE BOX
From Booklist

Set in New York City during the Civil War, this new series features Bridget Heaney, an orphaned Irish lass who has learned to cook well enough to be hired to work in the kitchen of a prosperous Jewish merchant. On her very first day of work, Bridget discovers the body of her employer's son. None of the characters has much depth, but they are all recognizable: Bridget's fragile sister; the kindly employer; the wronged kitchen maid (Bridget's predecessor); the French chef; the free man of color who is the house steward; and, of course, the butler. The point of view changes sometimes midparagraph, the characters have the sensibilities and speak in the language of the twenty-first rather than the nineteenth century, the food preparation is described with more care and gusto than anything else, and both the crime and the resolution strain credulity. With all that, however, the novel is thoroughly readable, if one is willing to give in to the comforts of formula. Hard to put down, like a bowl of pudding.
GraceAnne DeCandido

Copyright American Library Association. All rights reserved
Read A Review:

Lou Jane Temple is famous for her culinary mystery series featuring caterer Heaven Lee. This is a new culinary series set before 1900. I did not realize this until I started reading it. I normally shy away from historical mysteries, but I am so glad I read this one. Bridget Henry is an Irish Immigrant. She is all alone now. Her friend helps her get a job as a cook in the home of Isaac Gold, the wealthy owner of a department store.

She finds the body of Mr. Gold’s son in the dough box on her first day. He’d been shot twice in the chest. Mr. Gold has no faith in the police finding his son’s killer, so he decides he’d better do it. He enlists Bridget’s help. He also ends up assisting her in her search for her sister. They set off on many adventures until Mr. Gold’s wife tries to put a stop to it. Bridget still assists, but Mr. Gold is not as free to join in.

Bridget finds herself in quite a few interesting situations. She is such a wonderful character, and her interaction with Mr. Gold as well as the rest of the staff is terrific. The setting of the late 1800s really adds to this story. I can’t wait to read more in this new series. Ms. Temple has a real winner! I highly recommend it.

Dawn Dowdle