Death at Breakfast: A Novel by Beth Gutcheon

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Death at BreakfastDeath at Breakfast is a delightful first book in a very promising new mystery series. Many people dream of traveling when they retire. Maggie Detweiler is not just dreaming of travel, she is ready to go. Freshly retired from her head mistress job, she recruits a long time friend Hope Babbin to accompany her on her first journey. As the two women are as polar opposites, this quick trip to Maine for a cooking class is more or less a trial run to see if different as they may be, these two friends can become ongoing travel buddies. What could possibly go wrong?

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Yes, the two women ate going to a resort in Maine for a week long cooking class, but this is not exactly a completely random selection for their first outing. The local deputy sheriff, Buster Babbin, is the long estranged son of Hope. What does Hope expect from this reunion of sorts? Whatever her motives, Buster is having none of it until, as fate would have it, there is a fire at the Inn and the charred body of a guest is found in the ruins. Now Buster has a job to do right under the noses of his mother and her busybody friend.

What I particularly liked about this book is how crisply defined the characters were. The two traveling protagonists with their little quirks, are extremely likable. The various other guest at the inn are a mixed bag of people like you would expect to find. The rich couple who seem to hellbent on making everyone else’s life miserable, while completely despicable are portrayed in a sadly realistic way.

Another strength of the book is the actual mystery. The book was well plotted with enough clues to keep the reader guessing until the end.

The one point that was a bit off putting for me was the pacing. While little moments of humor along the way made it bearable, there were times when I wanted to scream at the characters to just get on with it! That point aside, Death at Breakfast has all of the elements needed for a long running series.