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Gayle Leeson Books In Order

Publication Order of Down South Cafe Mystery Books

The Calamity Cafe (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Silence of the Jams (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Honey-Baked Homicide (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Kinsey Falls Books

Hightai It to Kinsey Falls (2018) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Putting Down Roots in Kinsey Falls (2018) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Sleighing It in Kinsey Falls (2018) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Gayle Leeson is an American mystery writer based in Virginia. Leeson’s actual name is Gayle Trent and also uses the pseudonym Amanda Lee for her Embroidery Mysteries and Daphne Martin Cake Decorating series.

The Calamity Cafe

Leeson’s series Down South Café Mystery is her most famous effort. The first book in the series, “The Calamity Café” was written in 2016. It introduces the main protagonist of the series Amy Flowers, who has just returned to the town of Winter Garden, Virginia after finishing her culinary arts studies. The beautiful, kind and ambitious woman takes a waiting job at a small café owned by a mean called Lou Lou. The young waitress has high ambitions involving buying the eatery from her boss and turning it into a café serving delicious Southern food that she had learned to prepare from her grandmother. Her approaches to Lou Lou are rebuffed at first and intensifies the bad blood between them but finally Lou looks ready to make a deal. However the day after Amy gets an invite to discuss the deal, Lou is found murdered and all fingers immediately point to Amy.

Now the prime suspect in the gruesome murder, Amy has to try and clear her name. Her mission becomes that of finding the real killer and it is a tall order given Lou’s propensity to make enemies out of everyone. She teams up with a handsome police deputy, Ryan Hall, to vet the large number of potential killers. In the meantime, Lou’s son who had taken over the diner is willing to sell Amy the property, looking to move on with other endeavors. While she is delighted at the opportunity to finally realize her dream, she unearths shocking secrets tied to the diner’s history that could put her next on Lou’s killer’s list.

Calamity Café brings out Leeson’s penchant for suspenseful action punctuated with numerous plot twists. One can never quite predict what action each character is going to take and this is a staple of murder mystery genre. The solution to the murder is always tantalizingly close yet frustratingly out of reach every time you think it is solved. The reader just cannot put the book away as the investigations jump from suspect to suspect, with enough of them to yield a scary web of blind spots. Any writer aspiring to become a murder thriller writer cannot succeed without a mix of these attributes in his or her locker. Leeson does an excellent job of introducing the different components of the story, easing the reader into the events of the series and getting more intense as the pages turn.

Silence of the Jams

“Silence of the Jams,” the sequel to Calamity Café serves up yet another thrilling murder mystery, with Amy again at the center of the crisis. Having taken over Lou’s outlet and converted it to her dream restaurant, her new establishment is experiencing booming business and the future looks bright. The Lou murder mystery is solved and everything has settled into place nicely as she looks to grow the Down South Café. The only blot in her ambitions is that a powerful business mogul George Lincoln, the Chamber of Commerce director, is after the property in order to demolish it and build a bed and breakfast on the site. Amy consistently rebuffs the determined geezer’s offers, intent on seeing her vision through to the end. As the town folk are preparing for Independence Day celebrations, things are about to turn dark at Amy’s eatery which has become a hit with Winter Gardens residents. One morning Lincoln comes into the restaurant, with Amy expecting more of the same impassioned pleas for the property but she is instead plunged into familiar unsolicited chaos when Lincoln collapses and dies.

At first it appears to be a heart attack that had killed the unwanted patron but the autopsy reveals that he had been poisoned. Suspicion is again thrown her way, and this time her freedom is not the only thing threatened by the murder. Her reputation and that of the Down South is in danger of taking a hit. Amy again plunges into the investigations unveiling sinister happenings and dynamics tied to the death. Her investigations send her on a menacing brush with murderous individuals who come into town to protect the villainous secrets they wish to keep under wraps. On this journey, her now boyfriend Deputy Hall is again instrumental in bringing closure to the incredibly intricate crime mystery. Silence of the Jams is another product of superior quality on a level that few professional writers can deliver. The intrigues, humor and vivid imagery from the previous novel are carried on into this book, proving that her brilliance was not a one-off.

A bright future for Leeson

The authenticity of the experiences described in Leeson’s series is an impressive attribute, which helps the readers to feel connected with the Winter Garden setting as well as the characters. While the series is based on grave happenings, Leeson manages to spruce it up with fun narration and character construction. The loveable, fun and almost childishly innocent personality of Amy makes her extremely relatable and easy to root for from the start. This positive side to her is complemented by a fearless and unmovable grit to succeed at anything she sets out to do. Even the grim revelations about the murders, which had even police officers hesitating to pursue the crimes do not dissuade her from finding the facts. The romantic relationship between Amy and Hall further lightens the mood from the dark events in the series, without dominating too much of the storyline. In the end, although the relationship is a major component of the storyline, the narrative remains a murder mystery rather than leaning too much into romance. The series is an incredibly well written effort on all aspects and it will be a tall order to replicate the quality. However Leeson has shown enough pedigree to prove that the excellence will be a consistent presence in her future works.

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