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J.A. Lang Books In Order

Publication Order of Chef Maurice Books

Chef Maurice and a Spot of Truffle (2015) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Chef Maurice and the Wrath of Grapes (2015) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Chef Maurice and the Bunny-boiler Bake Off (2015) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

J.A. Lang is a British author of the Chef Maurice cozy mystery series of novels that have become some of most popular short stories in this decade. The series is set in Costwold village Beakley, a fictional setting in England that is within driving distance of the city of Oxford. The first novel of the series was “Chef Maurice and a Spot of Truffle” that was first published in 2015. “Chef Maurice and the Rather Fishy Tale”, a prequel published in 2014 took the form of a short story and was only recently included in the series. Not much is known about J.A. Lang though she has asserted that she is a great fan of the works of Terry Pratchett, P.G. Wodehouse, and Agatha Christie. When she is not writing her intriguing Chef Maurice Mystery series she can be found drinking good wine, eating, thinking about her next meal, traveling to places with great food, and cooking. She loves to assert that any similarities between Chef Maurice the amateur sleuth and herself are pure coincidence. She currently lives with her husband among a pile of cookbooks and Bob, her sourdough starter.

J.A. Lang’s Chef Maurice series best fits in the cozy mystery genre, even as some may deem them as more of an extended short story or narrative comic books. They do not have the gore of the classic mystery and come with a good-natured cast and for good measure a pet, which might be off-putting to some readers. A few of the sections in the novels will be written from the lead character’s pig’s perspective, making for an interesting take on events. Nonetheless, even with its animal perspective it comes with a fair number of clues and many laugh out loud moments. As for the mystery, the author does write a well-constructed mystery with no weird occurrences or locked rooms that often make the formulaic cozy a little too predictable. The murders are simple such as a man that was shot in the forest, which is followed by a clever plot that keeps up the tempo of investigation right to the very end. Lang takes her time to make the supporting cast into real characters thus avoiding caricature, even though the series are more of light-hearted narrative stories. The plot and humor in the series will definitely put a smile on the face of any cozy mystery buff out there.

J.A. Lang writes delightful cozy mysteries that promise light intrigue and humor in bite sized appetizer pieces. She quickly dispels that notion by writing a compelling mystery that is frothy, funny, and pacy with some great comical one-liners. The novels, which have been compared to Agatha Christie’s best short stories, definitely follow in the tradition of one of the greatest authors of the century, while infusing great humor into well-plotted story lines. The heroes take their detective efforts in a comical fashion though these are very serious crimes, you cannot help but laugh out loud. The novels are some of the very few instances of when an author takes the animal point of view in a novel and write interesting stories. Hamilton makes use of a range of animals from cows to pigs and brief snippets borrowed from Wordington-Smythe to make for very fun mysteries.

The lead character in the Chef Maurice series of novels, Chef Maurice is a little over the top but not in a bad way as he never does distract from the plot an is at heart a very nice guy. He is the head chef and owner of the Le Cochon Rouge, where he makes some of the most delicious dishes before taking his free time to solve mysterious murders. He is an amateur sleuth in the mold of Columbo, Poirot, and Hercule and a master chef all rolled into one. He is a character that if you knew in person could be exhausting, frustrating, hilarious, and fascinating all at the same time. He gets the support of a very able cast from his assistant chefs to his Hastings like side kick who make their appearance right from the first pages of the first novel right to the very last. The novels have the mystery-filled wit, abundance of food, humor, and dash of murder in the brilliant tradition of the classic British mystery.

“Chef Maurice and a Spot of Truffle”, the first novel in the series opens in a sleepy Cotswold village. Drop into the pot a hilarious French chef who loves the odd crime mystery, add in a Poirot like murder mystery, and season with red herrings and clues and you get some of the best entertainment. Chef Maurice gets together with Arthur Wordington-Smythe, a restaurant critic and one of his best friends to try to unravel a mysterious murder. The local constabulary and the staff at Chef Maurice’s restaurant also make their debut. According to Chef Maurice, most of the residents to the town only concerned themselves with getting high on gossip and alcohol, which were legal. However, his mushroom supplier just turned up dead with hardly anyone around for miles having any motive. Maurice has excluded himself from the suspects list, as he obviously does not have any other mushroom dealer. Even though he makes his argument to the constabulary, Constable Lucy has trouble believing him, forcing him into the investigation to prove his innocence.

“Chef Maurice and the Wrath of Grapes”, the second novel is set in a world where murder rudely interrupts Chef Maurice and his lackeys, who are preparing the most rarefied of wines for their guests. Arthur and Chef Maurice now track down a wine thief and murderer on snowy night paths and hidden passages where cell phone signal is nonexistent. Opening in a wine cellar it is an excellent mystery that continues the courtship dance between Patrick and PC Lucy as the preamble for a shocking murder. A wine tasting dinner organized by Chef Maurice goes terribly wrong when a dead body is discovered inside the restaurant kitchen. A thief had come into the restaurant and had killed one of Maurice’s assistants before making away with an expensive wine. J.A. Lang writes a humorous and delightful cozy that will keep any mystery buff glued to the pages right to the very satisfying conclusion.

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