Death at Breakfast by Beth Gutcheon Death at Breakfast by Beth Gutcheon
Series: Maggie Detweiler and Hope Babbin #1
Published by William Morrow on February 21, 2017
Source: Publisher
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback
Buy on Amazon or Audible
Add on Goodreads

Retired New York City private school head Maggie Detweiler and her old friend, society matron Hope Babbin, are off on a weeklong vacation to Maine, to visit Hope’s son and attend a master cooking class at the picturesque Oquossoc Mountain Inn. The worst tragedy they anticipate is a boring fellow guest or a fallen soufflé.

But their quiet idyll is disrupted by the arrival at the inn of a boorish couple, Alexander and Lisa Antippas, and Lisa’s sister, Glory. Imperious Hollywood one-percenters, Alex and Lisa are also the parents of the latest pop sensation, teen icon Artemis. Discord enters with the family, closely followed by disaster. When a suspicious late-night fire at the inn is brought under control, Alex’s charred body is found in the ashes.

Enter the local deputy sheriff, Buster Babbin, who is Hope’s long-estranged son and a former student of Maggie’s. Buster needs a success, and Hope and Maggie, informed by a lifetime of observing human nature, coupled with a certain cynicism about small town justice and a healthy dose of curiosity, decide there is role for them to play here.

I expected to enjoy Death at Breakfast. It seemed right up my alley. Recently retired Maggie Detweiler and her old friend, Hope Babbin, are staying at an inn in Maine and attending a week-long (I think) cooking class held by the chef. A great setting, two intelligent but quirky amateur detectives and food – a promising set-up.

Quick review: Fine, but not outstanding. It’s not exactly a waste of time, but if you have something you’re dying to read, skip this and pick that one up instead. On the other hand, the choice of murder weapons is semi-unique.

I guess my main problem with the book is that the character I found most interesting is the one who ends up dead. And he was interesting because of his thoughts, his way of seeing the world, things that we no longer see once he’s dead.

Maggie and Hope are nice and smart, but I didn’t connect with either of them. There are a lot of characters in the book, hotel employees and permanent residents, cooking class guests, townspeople, the deputy sheriff and other cops, Maggie and Hope’s friends who help with the investigation. To be honest, they all just kind of blurred together and I had trouble keeping track of who was who and why they were there.

The mystery portion worked well. The clues were woven into the story; the cops were sufficiently focussed on the wrong person to make the interference of Maggie and Hope necessary. Several of the characters were potential suspects, although some motives were stronger than others. I did find the murder weapon noteable and slightly terrifying.

I’m not even sure why it’s titled Death at Breakfast. The murder happened in the middle of the night and everyone who mattered knew almost immediately, they didn’t just find out about it the next day over breakfast.

About Beth Gutcheon

Beth Gutcheon was born and raised in western Pennsylvania. She graduated from Harvard with an honors degree in English literature. After a stint in the editorial department of a Boston publishing house, she moved to New York’s SoHo district before it was legal and before it was SoHo, and worked free-lance in the arts throughout the seventies.

Since 1978 when her first novel, The New Girls, was published, Gutcheon has made her living full-time as a storyteller. She is the author of nine previous novels, all in print, and of many commissioned screenplays, including for the 20th Century Fox feature film Without a Trace, based on her novel, Still Missing. She has also contributed to New York Magazine, Savvy Magazine, The New York Times, the NYT Book Review, the San Jose Mercury News, the San Francisco Chronicle, Conde Nast Traveler, and many other periodicals.

Beth Gutcheon currently lives in New York City with her husband and her elderly poodle, Daisy Buchanan.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: