ARC Review: The Calamity Cafe by Gayle Leeson

15:07 Unknown 2 Comments

Title: The Calamity Cafe: A Down South Café Mystery 

Author: Gayle Leeson
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Source: NetGalley

Synopsis: First in a new cozy mystery series featuring Southern cooking that is to die for.

Aspiring chef and small-town Virginia native Amy Flowers is ready to open her own café offering old-fashioned Southern food. But her dream may go up in smoke when someone kills the competition...

Tired of waiting tables at Lou's Joint, Amy Flowers doesn't just quit—she offers to buy the place from her bully of a boss, so she can finally open the café of her dreams. Amy can't wait to serve the kind of Southern, down-home treats and dishes that her grandmother always loved to the kooky cast of regulars at the restaurant. She knows her comfort food will be the talk of the sweet, small town of Winter Garden, Virginia.

At first Lou Lou refuses to sell, but when she seems ready to make a deal, she tells Amy to come see her.  Showing up at the eatery ready to negotiate, Amy is shocked to find her former employer murdered. As the prime suspect, Amy will have to clear her name by serving up the real killer—and with Lou Lou's stack of enemies, that's a tall order.

Includes delicious Southern recipes!

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Plenty of things about the premise of The Calamity Cafe appealed to me: a persevering leading lady, small-town whodunnit, the inclusion of comfort food. In those ways, it was a nice, cozy read. It didn't, however, quite manage to surprise me.

As it should be, the most compelling part of the book is the mystery. I enjoyed the way it unfolds and how we meet the suspects. Lou Lou as a victim is hardly sympathetic, but I like how the story slowly shines a different light on her character. I like that a good amount of Amy's detective work is carried out through conversations with friends and rumours - it's true to the way small town operates. Plus, the part where Amy builds her cafe is fun, and not only because of the amount of food mentioned.

Frustratingly, I could not connect to the characters. While the dialogue was fun to read, the relationships were predictable. I don't mind the predictability of the romance, but the chemistry wasn't there. There were several points during the book where I thought about giving up because I didn't care for the people at all, but I kept going because I wanted to know the answer to the whodunnit.

All in all, despite the interesting mystery, this book fell flat for me. It might appeal more strongly to fans of cozy mystery and Southern settings.

(I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The expected publication date is 7 June 2016.)


  1. The summary does sound pretty cute. I'm sorry it didn't really work for you though! I'm the same - the romance can be predictable but there needs to be chemistry there! And not being able to connect to characters is the worst. I hope your next read is a bit better, Cilla!

    1. Yess, characters are so important to keep me engaged in reading! Thanks, Anika! <3


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