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A Deadly Grind
A Vintage Kitchen Mystery #1
Victoria Hamilton

Berkley Prime Crime
May 2012/ 978-0-425-24801-0
Mystery/Cozy/Amateur Sleuth

Reviewed by Laura Hinds

Jaymie Leighton loves all things vintage kitchens and cooking. She collects cookbooks and period cookware for her 1920s kitchen. Jaymie and her sister Rebecca co-own a house that their parents deeded to them. Rebecca visits on weekends, but chiefly lives in Canada. So the house in Michigan is primarily Jaymie's, and she enjoys filling it with her collector's items.

At an estate auction Jaymie scores an original 1920s Hoosier cabinet. Rebecca is not pleased that such a big item will take over the kitchen, but Jaymie stands up for herself. She leaves the Hoosier on the summer porch of their yellow brick house overnight, planning to clean it up the next day. During the night Jaymie is awakened by a loud bang and a shout. Cautiously she goes downstairs and opens the door to the porch. There, prone by the Hoosier, is the body of a man. Neighbor Clive comes running over and ascertains that the unknown man is dead.

The focus of this book is who the dead man is, why he was killed on Jaymie's porch, and who the murderer could be. Yet underlying this criminal theme is the story of a small town atmosphere, rife with rumors and suspicion. Was the man a thief? Was he a druggie? Or is there more to this than meets the eye?

As life goes on, the annual Queen's Tea is happening the next day, bringing out all and sundry. Many of the locals work at the event, and any number of tourists arrive to be part of an elegant tea and sweets day that is reminiscent of an earlier time. Perhaps the murder will mar the event, but it could work just as easily to narrow down the suspects.

This book beckoned to me to have a pot of tea handy, and perhaps a scone or two. While there are other mystery series that focus on tea shops (Laura Childs' Tea Shop Mysteries) this tea party is held in the great outdoors with any number of variables possible. The time and place ring true, and the characters are down-to-earth and realistic. They have their foibles that make them all the more interesting. As is customary with cozy mysteries these days, there is a selection of recipes included at the back of the book.

This would make a nice summer read, when you just want to kick back, have a cup of tea and while away an afternoon. It is appropriate for teens on up. As the first in a new series, you'll want to get in on the ground level so you can read and enjoy future books. I hope Victoria Hamilton writes fast, because I can't wait for the next installment.

Reviews of other titles in this series

A Deadly Grind #1
Bowled Over #2
No Mallet Intended #4

Reviewed 2012