A Bitter Feast by Deborah Crombie

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

What I didn’t realize going into A Bitter Feast was that it was part of a series, which quickly became apparent when I started reading. Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James are detectives and married and, in this novel, they are traveling to the countryside for a luncheon thrown by the parents of another detective, Melody Talbot. If you have read the series, then you won’t need to do any catching up. But, on the flip side, the beginning will be a little slowergoing due to the mass amounts of information and detail as well as the plethora of characters.

A Bitter Feast could almost read as a standalone. I say this because though it was my first of the series, I definitely felt I was missing some back information. However, once you catch up on the who’s who of the many characters, this is a very interesting read. These are long, information filled chapters in a format that I haven’t read before and took some getting used to. (I guess I got spoiled with my usual thriller chapters told by alternating characters or dedicated to just one of the protagonists at a time.)

A Bitter Feast takes a different approach in narrating all characters pertaining to the content of the specific chapter. For example, a kitchen scene would obviously include its chef, Viv, because she is the kitchen. But it might also narrate for each kitchen worker present who witnessed something, plus the customers who were in the bar and which detective showed up and what they saw. It took some getting used to but once I did it sort of made for a more interesting way to read the story.

Now, to the plot. If you like top chef style kitchen drama and you’re a fan of murder mysteries, then this is the book for you. Viv is an amazing chef hiding away in the countryside working for a pub she owns with her partner, Bea. The confusing part to the townspeople is why such a talented chef is working in a pub – not that they’re complaining because she’s that good. Due to a luncheon planned by the Talbots, Fergus O’Reilly (Viv’s old boss, mentor, and rival among other things) shows up. Then he turns up dead.

Talk about a dramatic kitchen, it seems every time Viv catches up another sordid detail or messy death is on the menu. Good thing Detectives Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid quickly partner with local law enforcement to get to work on what seems to be an accident…until people start talking.

Got a long weekend or vacation coming up? This is the perfect sit-in-your-comfy-chair-and-read-a-long-juicy-story book.

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