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Prepared for Murder    by Cecile Lamalle order for
Prepared for Murder
by Cecile Lamalle
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2001 (2001)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Prepared for Murder is the third (following Appetite for Murder and Glutton for Punishment) in a series about Charly Poisson, chef and owner of La Fermette 'the finest French restaurant in Van Buren County'. It also happens to be the only one in this part of upstate New York.

Lamalle has written a very fishy murder mystery. First she has fun with the names - Poisson (French for fish) and Baleine (whale) and then there are recipes like Broiled Shad with Sorrel Sauce or Sea Scallops with Sauce Provencal. Finally her story centers on a smelly culinary supplier, misnamed Fabulous Foods, that specializes in recycling rotting shrimp and swordfish into appetizing restaurant entrées. But the story begins when Charly uncovers a decomposing body while harvesting nettles from his fields. The local police chief is not surprised since bodies are Charly's specialty.

The author pens a cozy, quirky tale and serves up a variety of peculiar characters and farcical situations - from Charly himself with his nose for trouble and dependence on herbal remedies, to his favorite customer, the gangster Ugo Buonsarde, and his helper's rich aunt Honoria who likes young men a little too much. I particularly enjoyed a delightful dissertation on French humor, with a mention of the delicate fritters whose name translates to 'the fart of a nun'.

If you like your mysteries light and humorous, then sit down to a plateful of fishy fun in Prepared for Murder. It combines charmingly eccentric characters with mouth-watering recipes, entertaining Gallic trivia and all the elements of a French farce, including a surprising answer to whodunit.

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