The Popeye Murder, Sandra Winter-Dewhirst
Feeling very much like an advertisement for gourmet South Australia with a slightly incongruous crime fiction element (wouldn't that turn potential visitors off...) THE POPEYE MURDER by Sandra Winter-Dewhirst is the first Rebecca Keith mystery. An extremely cozy series, based around the life and times of Keith: editor of Taste, the food and wine liftout of Adelaide's daily newspaper, this is all about the food, the wine and the clothes. With some crime and the obligatory romance chucked in.
THE POPEYE MURDER doesn't seem to be taking itself too seriously, which is just as well, as this is very much a jaunt through the social whirl of Adelaide in the midst of the Australian Food Festival. Much is made of the attractions of Adelaide, and the well known Adelaide Hills with Keith mingling with the gliterrati of the food scene. Along the way there's the somewhat inconvenient serving up of the head of local chef, Leong Chews, literally on a platter.
It won't come as much of a surprise to find that this reader felt this novel followed the cue cards for extreme cosy crime bullet point by bullet point. There is the hunky Detective Chief Inspector Gary Jarvie - love interest, mildly annoyed cop dealing with the ditzy, gad about Rebecca's nose being firmly poked in his investigation with calm and measured tolerance. There's a lot of tourism elements, with much being made of the high points of Adelaide and the Hills region. There are plenty of references to their wonderful wines, the foodie culture, the tourist destinations and for some reason clothes. There are a lot of references to clothes. There are some slightly grizzly aspects to the crime to distract from that for a very short time, but really this is about the names, the clothes, the places, the architecture, the food, the wine, and the crime.
Needless to say - one for fans of the distinctly lighter side of crime fiction.
Rebecca wondered if she was looking at an elaborate hoax. She wasn't.
Along with a dozen other journalists and food-industry celebrities, she had just witnessed the unveiling of the baked head of one of Adelaide's most celebrated chefs. The head of Leong Chew sat on a pewter platter. The cloche had just been removed, revealing Leong Chew, clearly not at his best.
As editor of Taste, the food and wine liftout of Adelaide's daily newspaper, Rebecca Keith has a life of long lunches and social engagements. That is, until one of the city's most respected chefs is found murdered.
Caught up in a criminal investigation, and having to report on it as well, Rebecca comes face-to-face with a host of suspects - and the charming Detective Inspector Gary Jarvie. The murderer is on the loose, though, and Rebecca doesn't realise how much danger she's in.