Tannie Maria has been writing a cooking column for the local newspaper in rural South Africa when the owners announce that The Gazette needs an advice column, but the only way to fit that in to us for pages is to eliminate Tannie Maria’s recipe column in Recipes for Love and Murder by Sally Andrew. Tannie (a term of respect) Maria solves the problem by combining the advice with recipes that will help the reader deal with the problem.
One of the first letters to arrive is from a woman being abused by her husband, who broke her arm and shot the ducks given to the anonymous woman by her dearest female friend. Tannie Maria becomes invested in this case, though she doesn’t know the identity of the woman or her friend, who also has written, wanting to know how long she would have to spend in prison if she kills the abusive husband in self-defense. The case also dredges up Maria’s own history with her own late husband, who abused her badly during his life. Unable to get up the courage to leave her husband, Tannie Maria is determined to prevent any other woman from having to suffer her own fate.
Then one day the newspaper gets notice that a police car and ambulance are on the way to a home, and it doesn’t take long for Tannie Maria to spot the feathers of a white duck in the pond. This is the home of her correspondent, and the woman, now identified as Martine, is dead. If this isn’t bad enough, her dear friend, Anna, gets charged for the crime. Tannie Maria gets involved in trying to solve the mystery, all the while finding her niche as an advice columnist who uses recipes to help people get help.
This book is very creatively written, with a great flavor of South Africa and a unique take on a murder mystery. The touches of recipes add in well to the story, in a unique method different than most culinary mysteries. The method of storytelling was original in its combination of advice columns, recipes, and details of the mystery.
Sandra Prinsloo performs the narration of this book, using a South African accent. This accent is quite different from the ones used by South Africans I have known, but the country is large enough that I’m sure its accents vary just as much as American accents vary. Prinsloo really enlivens the book and fits the voice of this middle-aged woman who has survived an abusive marriage.
Recipes for Love and Murder is a creative, unique book. Not your typical culinary mystery, the book includes recipes both within the book and in the appendix, though the recipes are used to help others find ways to become competent in life and love. I really enjoyed this book, giving it five stars!
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