Carly Hale is a thirty two year old woman who has recently moved back to her home town of Balsam Dell, Vermont, to fulfill her dream of opening a grilled cheese restaurant. Carly used the insurance money she received after the tragic death of her husband in an accident to furnish and fit-out the cafe. Carly, of course, is the sleuth in Linda Reilly’s Up to No Gouda, the first book in the Grilled Cheese Mystery Series, which is the next book I’m featuring in my posts discussing the most recommended and popular Cozy Mystery series.
Up to No Gouda, begins, appropriately enough, with Carly ladling out tomato soup to be served with her “Party Havarti” grilled cheese sandwich. Carly’s restaurant has only been open a few months, but sitting near the Balsam Dell town center with its tourist attracting shops and foot traffic from the locals, it has become quite the sensation in the town that has earned the reputation as one of New England’s coziest villages. Carly was not only fortunate in her choice of locations — she also has hired two of the best employees a small cafe could want. Both Suzanne, her server and all around helper, and Grant, her young cook, are excellent at their jobs.
Unfortunately, Carly only rents the space for her cafe. The lease is soon expiring, and the new owner of the property has no intention of extending or renewing the lease. So, after only a few months of being open, Carly faces the prospect of relocating to another location farther from the town center.
Being a cozy mystery, before long Carly finds a body behind her restaurant. And, one of her prized employees comes under a cloud of suspicion. Carly can’t let her employee be wrongly accused, and thus, the sleuthing begins.
I love grilled cheese as much as just about anybody. But, I have to admit, I had my doubts about a series centered around a grilled cheese restaurant. However, after reading just a few pages of Up to No Gouda, I was hooked and my misgivings vanished. The setting has all of the classic (and thus attractive) elements of cozy mysteries. Balsam Dell is literally a cozy village. Carly is surrounded by old and new acquaintances in this small town and in her cafe. Carly is widowed, but not so recently that she doesn’t have a budding potential romance. Also, she is quite familiar with the older police chief who is an old friend of her family. And, there is a small dog (pictured on the cover) who becomes part of the story. (I almost forgot to mention that there are grilled cheese tips and recipes at the end of the book.)
I had a good time reading Up to No Gouda. The setting is attractive, and the characters are memorable. My time reading this story just flew by. I hope there are many more entries in this charming series by Linda Reilly.
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