Series: A Chili Cook-Off Mystery #1
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Published by Berkley on 1 October 2013
Reading Challenges: 2013 In Uniform Challenge
Maxie Pierce has been working at Texas Jack Pierce’s Hot Cha Chili Seasoning Palace with her half sister Sylvia ever since her father went missing six weeks ago. She was hoping to divide her time between looking for their dad and dancing in the chili costume but she becomes a murder suspect when Roberto, the guy she had a fairly disastrous date with, is murdered.
Maxie is an appealing protagonist. She has her fair share of problems such as a bad track record with dating losers and having to work alongside Sylvia. Her reputation (along with her credit rating) isn’t that good, but she’s plucky and does the right thing even when it pains her. Perhaps it is because her life is such a mess that she has a flair for investigating as she can relate to many of the people she talks to.
Maxie rarely interacts directly with the police which is unusual for a cozy mystery since she is a suspect. Instead we have Nick the hot security guard (and rumoured ex-cop) who initially encourages her to investigate and provides backup when she needs it. Both Maxie and Sylvia are interested in him so it will be interesting to see if and how a romance develops. Sylvia isn’t that likeable as she treats Maxie in a demeaning manner and is more interested in making some cash than continuing their father’s dream. The other secondary characters were engaging even if some of them were stereotypical.
The mystery was fairly straight-forward with Maxie asking everyone lots of questions and reinterviewing those whose stories were inconsistent. There were some nicely placed red herrings that tried to divert us from the killer. Even though the person Maxie initially targeted turned out to be innocent, she got her killer in the end.
Chili Con Carnage is a light and quick read. If you like food themed cozy mysteries then this will whet your appetite.