Tabitha Darling is the daughter of a recently demised, much missed police superintendent and his wife, a recently moved to Queensland, much missed cook for the local police station. She's trying to run her own dessert destination café in the centre of Hobart, but no matter how hard she tries to adjust the menu to suit the sort of clientele she'd like to be attracting, the place is overrun with police nostalgic for canteen style pies.
She's also only slightly reluctant to leap into the role of accidental detective when a rather bizarre death is discovered in the flat upstairs from her café. Which is further complicated by the discovery that her landlord (and obviously that of the band renting the flat where the dead body was found), Darrow, seems to be flying under the radar. Maybe because Darling's old school-friend, and Darrow's recent girlfriend, Xanthippe is in town and not amused with him at all. Of course Tabitha can't help but assist, what with her combined superpowers of gossip, custard production and being irresistible to Police Sergeants she is obviously destined to be of huge assistance to the local constabulary. If only they realised.
At some time in the not too distant future I'm going to go out and glare at the first cute puppy I see. Well a photo of one anyway. Because I'm not getting soft in the head. Although I wouldn't exactly call this cosy, it's definitely one of those mildly daft central female characters doing the whole accidental detective thing, getting all distracted by manly men standing way too close, and obsessed with Trifle production. Which I, somewhat surprisingly, liked a lot.
Part of the reason it was so enjoyable is that there's nothing maliciously daft about Tabitha. In fact there's a distinct feeling that her tongue is quite firmly placed in her cheek. She's surrounded by a fabulous cast of supporting characters, including blogger Stewart McTavish (yes even the character names... ), a bit of romantic tension that's not really all that tense and some utterly fabulous household goings on. I will confess that most of the brand names and obsessions with fashion wizzed past in a blur of "no idea" whatsoever, but at the same time there were points when I found myself laughing.
None of which would mean a thing if there wasn't also a good, twisty plot with plenty of deducting opportunities and a nice sense of realness about everyone. Which was helped a lot by a clever writing trick giving the community of characters a back-story without having to spell it out. Which shouldn't be surprising as even though this is a "debut" novel, the author is writing under a pseudonym.
Somebody recommended A TRIFLE DEAD to me, and at the time I did wonder about their sanity because it sounded a lot like everything I don't like. Turns out I was wrong, even though it did come with recipes... On second thoughts make that a puppy and a kitten...