“Fine Arts” Is One of the Best Culinary Mysteries I’ve Read

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Fine ArtsTrudie caters an art opening full of conflict in Gale Deitch’s Fine Arts. Trudie hears arguments between Christine and several people, including the artist, Rose, who is the partner of Jennifer, the woman A Fine Fix teams with to provide baked goods for their catered events. So when Christine is stabbed by a pendant she is wearing that has been made by Rose, it doesn’t take long for the police to arrest the artist. In horror, since her testimony of an argument between Christine and Rose gave the police their motive for the murder, Trudie goes after her boyfriend, Daniel, who is a detective assigned to the case, refusing to accept Rose’s guilt.

As a favor to Rose, who is stuck in jail an extra day on her lawyer’s advice because the judge on duty Sunday is known to be hostile to same-sex couples, Trudie takes Rose’s dog, Zeus, to compete in the state agility competition. Together, they succeed in getting Zeus the honor of a MAC (master agility champion) title and even coming in third fastest.

Trudie gets involved more deeply and deeply in the case, with someone’s stalking her and leaving porcelain clowns with threatening notes inside her and Daniel’s home. The book alternates between light moments and tenser ones in which bad things happen. It all concludes in a dramatic confrontation between Trudie and the murderer.

I really enjoyed this book and thought it the best of the three books published by Deitch. The plot was well-planned, and the characters came across as clearly defined and easy to picture. You come to feel that you are friends with Trudie and her friends and enemies with her enemies. I especially loved the addition of Zeus to the book. The agility trial is a really fun part of the book, and Zeus really seems lifelike. My only complaint is that I couldn’t picture Zeus because the only freedoms descriptions of the dog indicate that he is white with some gray and has sleek fur. But I have no idea what breed or size he is, which disappointed me. I suppose Deitch wanted to leave those details up to us to imagine, but I’d rather have been given a more thorough visual description.

I also like the food details of this book. Like many culinary mysteries, the book contains recipes, but the recipes here are actually developed by a professional chef. Further, in her narration of the book, Trudie talks about the actual details of her cooking, and Trudie talks food as if it emanates from her entire personality. I particularly love the way Trudie uses food in the place of swear words. Here are just three examples: “This thing scared the shitake out of me!” “A chorus of oven timers went off in my head.” “What the hamburger were you thinking?” This creative use of food in her speech is very refreshing.

Another detail that impressed me about this book is the inclusion of a lesbian couple in this cozy mystery. As an aficionado of cozy mysteries who has listened to hundreds of these books, I can recall only two other cozy mysteries that even includes a same-sex couple in any significant way, and in this one, the lesbian couple play not only characters, but main characters. Perhaps with cozy mysteries being traditional ones, authors try to stay away from any kind of controversy, but LGBT issues are genuine parts of the real world today.

I really loved the narration of Kristin James, who helps a lot in making the audio edition of this book more enjoyable than I’d imagine it would be for me to read it myself. She plays the part of Trudie well, with plenty of energy in her performance. I hope to hear more from her in the future.

Fine Arts delights in its portrayal of the life of the caterer Trudie. I enjoyed the mystery, the characters, the depictions of all the food details, and the delightful dog. I give this book five stars!

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author, but that in no way affected my analysis or rating of this book.

To purchase this book for yourself, click here on Amazon.

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