I was recently sent a digital review copy of this book.
I enjoyed reading it very much but I’m not sure how to describe it?
Recipes for Love and Murder is a really good story, full of engaging characters, a murder (or maybe two), multiple suspects, red herrings, a bit of farce, some romance, delicious mouthwatering food and not forgetting a handsome Police detective who might just be causing Tannie Maria’s heart to beat a little bit faster. In fact is has a little bit of everything but overall a very enjoyable read.
Tannie Maria is a widow who writes a recipe column in her local paper the Klein Karoo Gazette. She loves food and she loves cooking, especially to share with friends. Good news is celebrated with tea and cake; bad news is made less bad by tea and cake. When it looks like her recipe column is to be replaced by an advice/problem page she keeps her job by combining the two. When someone writes in with a problem she suggests a suitable recipe that might help them.
A woman had written to Tannie Maria asking for advice regarding her jealous, violent husband and her friendship with another woman Tannie Maria replies with a recipe and advises her that she should leave a man who abuses her. Although now a widow, Tannie Maria had been married to a violent, abusive husband.
Later Tannie Maria receives another note from the woman thanking her for the recipe and saying that she was making a plan that would allow her to leave.
When the woman is later found murdered Tannie Maria and her friend Jessie, a reporter at the paper, get involved in trying to get to the bottom of the crime.
There are multiple suspects (including the woman’s husband and her friend), threats, red herrings and Tannie Maria and Jessie find themselves in dangerous situations as they seem to be getting closer to identifying the murderer.
Meanwhile throughout the book Tannie Maria answers the letters she receives with some advice and a recipe.
Oh yes, and at the back of the book are some of the recipes mentioned in the story. I haven’t tried them out personally but I would love to have a go – some day!
The story is set in South Africa, Tannie Maria is half English, half Afrikaans and some Afrikaans words are used in the book. Don’t let that put you off. Most of these words are easy to understand, often the English translation being used elsewhere on the same page. I found it slightly strange at first but I soon became used to the words and they didn’t cause me any problems.
I think Sally Andrew has written a really good first novel. I love the writing style. It’s a great mix of murder mystery, a little bit of romance, delicious food (with recipes) and friendship.
If you have read and liked Alexander McCall Smith’s No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, you will probably like this book. The books are not the same (apart from both books being set in Africa, albeit different countries) but both books have a main character who is big-hearted, friendly, welcoming and with a great common sense attitude.
This is the first Tannie Maria book but I’ll be looking out for the next one!