One by One, House of Lies, & The Cooking School Murders

One by One by Ruth Ware reminds me very much of her earlier book, In a Dark, Dark Wood, which I enjoyed greatly when I read it. This builds that sense of claustrophobic menace. Here we have a ski chalet and the weather with an avalanche cutting them all off causing the isolation. A team of wealthy tech entrepreneurs have met for their company retreat and find themselves at odds over the fate of the company involving millions. The tech staff and the chalet staff of two are stranded and then the dying begins.

This had a great sense of place and an interesting protagonist to root for throughout. I think the weakness what that the villain was pretty obvious fairly early on. I did like the story line and the idea of the tech company Snoop.

House of Lies is book four in series of which I have not read the first three, but that did not really seem to be an issue with jumping in here. DS Karen Hart is called in to look into what is initially a missing person case and seems somewhat premature as the girls are almost adults and they have not yet been gone 24 hours. Natasha and Cressida are staying at a Manse turned convention center currently hosting an expensive cram session for children of well off parents who want to give their kids a leg up on exams. They had purportedly decided to take a night off of cramming and hit the town and simply not shown up for breakfast. Suspicious characters abound and soon the case does turn into a murder investigation.

This was a really interesting case with many twists and turns. The characters were all nicely developed. The resolution was very well done. I would want to read more in the series. A very good police procedural.

The Cooking School Murder has been on my TBR for quite a while. Ever since I got hooked into Culinary cozies with the Diane Mott Davidson series, I meant to read the series that is supposed to be the one that started the genre and that is this series, the Eugenie Potter series by Virginia Rich. Virginia Rich published this book, the first in the series in 1982. She published 2 more books in the series before her death. She left notes for a couple more and her friend, Nancy Pickard continued the series.

The title is somewhat of a misnomer, the mystery is not really about a cooking school, the book starts off with a group people who signed up at Eugenie’s request for an Adult Education Cooking course being offered in the Home Ec Room at the local High School. After the murder(s) occur, the course is not revisited.

The good here: I loved the character of Eugenie, the food descriptions, the recipes. The crime was interesting and clever. There is an acknowledgement of classism, which was surprising for the time period. The historical context of the development of culinary cozies is easy to trace from this. Typical things we still see in modern culinary cozies occur here such as, events occur in the story and Eugenie cooks a dish or describes a dish. The townsfolk being introduced, especially in the first book in a series, and the small town “everyone knows everyone” atmosphere which are staples in many cozies. She even uses a technique I even seen in other series of writing out scenarios for how each of her “suspects” could have done it”, as a way of showing the sleuth’s thoughts.

The bad:

It does have a dated feel to it, which is understandable to a certain extent, but I was an adult in the 80s and this feels dated to me. Particularly in the discussion of homosexuality in relation to the character of Edward and to the use of the word gay. This might be because there is somewhat of a Christian bend here. Also in general some of the techniques, like her self dialogue as to her suspects “stories” are clunky.

Overall, I am glad that I read this, simply because it was interesting to see how Culinary cozies have developed.