January 03, 2003

Appetite for Murder, Cecille Lamalle

Why are murder mysteries with recipes such a successful genre? Appetite for Murder is an okay light mystery, bludgeonings, comedy, social commentary and caricatures and all, but really any proximity to death by bludgeoning makes me that much less interested in ramekins of chicken.

Recipes turn up in series 'cozy' mysteries, making them 'culinary cozies'. They're awfully long on desserts, though some are tea cozies. Spenser doesn't give recipes that I recall, but Robert B. Parker goes on enough about his cooking to out Spenser as a crypto-cozy. Ha! We knew it, drippy romance, spoiled pet and all.

Wimsey justifies murder-mystery-writing to Harriet as a vision of a world in which justice is done in the end. Doing justice isn't easy in their world; they have moral debates and nervous breakdowns and marital grief over it. (When are Strong Poison and Gaudy Night going to be republished with recipes?) The cozies make it a bit too easy, which is to our discredit, if we no longer imagine achieving anything hard, or maybe to our credit, if we're imagining common or domestic virtues as natural allies to Justice with her book, blindfold and sword.

I haven't established whether the recipes are generally any good. So wrote clew in Mystery.

And thus wrote others:
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