Blurb: The town of Jewel Bay, Montana—known as a Food Lovers' Village—is obsessed with homegrown and homemade Montana fare. So when Erin Murphy takes over her family’s century-old general store, she turns it into a boutique market filled with local delicacies. But Erin’s freshly booming business might go rotten when a former employee turns up dead…
Murphy’s Mercantile, known as the Merc, has been a staple in Jewel Bay for over a hundred years. To celebrate their recent makeover as a gourmet food market, Erin has organized a town festival, Festa di Pasta, featuring the culinary goods of Jewel Bay’s finest—including her mother Fresca’s delicious Italian specialties.
But Erin’s sweet success is soured when the shop’s former manager, Claudette, is found dead behind the Merc on the Festa’s opening night. With rival chef James Angelo stirring up rumors that Fresca’s sauce recipes were stolen from Claudette, Erin’s mother is under close scrutiny. Now Erin will have to hunt down some new suspects, or both her family and her store might wind up in hot water…
My Review: When I think about the state of Montana, delicious delicacies don't immediately come to mind. That all changed when I picked up Leslie Budewitz's first Food Lovers' Village Mystery. Huckleberry chocolates, Cowboy Roast coffee, all kinds of Italian yumminess...I could make myself very much at home there!!!
Erin Murphy has returned home to Jewel Bay to help her mother Fresca run the family's general store, now a specialty food market. Her first project is to organize an Italian festival, Festa di Pasta, with the highlight being Fresca's Italian specialties. Things go horribly wrong when the shop's former manager Claudette is found dead out back on opening night amidst rumors that she was kicked to the curb by Fresca to make way for Erin to take over after stealing Claudette's recipes! Even though everyone in Jewel Bay seems to be connected in some way to everyone else and they all are seriously suspicious, Fresca becomes the prime suspect, and it doesn't help that she's being quite uncooperative with a few secrets of her own. I did catch a clue early on that led me to correctly pinpoint the killer, although I did second guess myself several times because everyone seemed guilty at one time or another!
This is a wonderful debut to a promising new series set in an area of the country not often seen in cozies, and I look forward to visiting Jewel Bay again soon. Be sure to check out yesterday's Whiskers Behind the Words to meet the real-life inspiration for one of my favorite characters, Erin's Burmese cat, Mr. Sandburg.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher with the request for a review.