Book Review

No Parm No Foul

No Parm No Foul

  • Author: Linda Reilly
  • Genre: Cozy Mystery
  • Publication Date: July 26, 2022
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
  • Series: Grilled Cheese Mysteries #2

Thank you to NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

CONTENT WARNING: murder, bullying

The second book in a delicious culinary cozy series—the muensters have arrived in Balsam Dell in this Halloween cozy mystery featuring a grilled cheese shop owner turned amateur sleuth

After a long hot summer in Balsam Dell, Carly Hale is ready for crisp Vermont weather and gourmet grilled cheeses at her Grilled Cheese Eatery. And the upcoming Halloween food competition is the perfect way to impress the locals.

But Ferris Menard, the owner of Sub-a-Dub-Sub, is nursing a serious grudge against Carly. Two days before the competition, one of Carly’s employees quit his part-time gig at Menard’s sub shop, sending Menard into a serious snit. In a confrontation at the Eatery, Menard accused Carly of sabotage and vowed to bring her down.

That’s when Menard’s body is found in his kitchen the morning after the competition, a steak knife sticking out of his heart. But Menard had a slew of enemies, and if Carly doesn’t figure out which one is the culprit, she might find herself—or someone she cares about—serving grilled cheese sandwiches under lock and brie!

There’s so much to love about this series, which is probably why I got hooked early on. Grilled cheese were always a comfort food in my house, and I still love them, even as an adult, so the creative takes on them in this book and the punny names for them make me smile every time. Plus, someone who loves cheese enough to name her rescue dog Havarti? Irresistible.

In this book, it’s Halloween in Vermont, and Balsam Dell is having their annual food competition. Carly’s Grilled Cheese Eatery is competing for the first time, and when loyal Grant finally makes the leap and quits working at Sub-a-Dub-Sub, the owner, Mr. Menard, seems to think it’s all Carly’s fault. He blames Carly for it, and makes some threats against her. Not cool, bro. It amps up the tension in the town, and Mr. Menard seems kind of unhinged, since it’s obvious that poor Carly not only has nothing to do with it, but she’s such a sweetheart (and a local crime-solving hero). 

But when Menard turns up murdered, it isn’t looking good for Carly. Even worse, it looks like her boyfriend Ari is suspect number 1. Although Carly promises to keep her nose out of this case, as the evidence piles up against Ari, she worries that if the police are convinced that Ari is guilty, they won’t bother to find out who really killed Mr. Menard. So she decides to just do a little investigating, and naturally finds herself in over her head.

I have to admit that I love Carly, and I was so happy to see her get together with Ari. I hope that we get to see their relationship develop further in future books, because they’re such a cute couple, and they both deserve to be happy. In this book, we learn a little bit about Ari’s background and some of his early experiences that have a profound impact on his personality, which explain some of his behavior, and it was kind of intriguing to see heavier topics dealt with in this way. Carly’s own confusion about starting her first relationship after the death of her husband is also brought into the story, and I felt like it added a bit more depth to a relatively light and fun story.

This book is fast-paced and fun, with a ton of red herrings, making me constantly wonder who was really behind Menard’s murder. I already knew that Carly was going to be putting herself in danger, because she’s the kind of person who puts the needs of others in front of herself. But Menard wasn’t really a likable character, Inevitably, there were quite a few people who didn’t like him, but did any of them have a good enough reason to want to kill him? 

There were so many questions that I had while reading, and like any good cozy mystery, they were all answered by the time I finished reading. And like my favorite cozies, the book finished with a few great recipes for some fantastic grilled cheese sandwiches. The only reason I didn’t give this one the full five stars is because I’ve worked in restaurants for a good portion of my 20s and some of my 30s, and the way that Carly runs her restaurant wasn’t completely realistic. But the story is fun and a quick, enjoyable read, and I am definitely looking forward to more of this series!

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 7

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