Sunday, July 3, 2016

Book Review: The Big Chili by Julia Buckley

Title: The Big Chili (Undercover Dish #1)
Author: Julia Buckley

Genre: Mystery| Culinary Cozy| Adult Fiction| Romance
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley 
  • Publication Date: October 6, 2015
  • Source: Purchased
  • Format: Paperback
Author website

First in a delicious new mystery series filled with casseroles, confidences, and killers...

Lilah Drake’s Covered Dish business discreetly provides the residents of Pine Haven, Illinois, with delicious, fresh-cooked meals they can claim they cooked themselves. But when one of her clandestine concoctions is used to poison a local woman, Lilah finds herself in a pot-load of trouble… Goodreads

My Review

The Big Chili is a great start to a promising new series! Author Julia Buckley brings an interesting new spin to the beloved culinary cozy with our heroine, Lilah Drake and her Covered Dish business.

Plot:  Lilah Drake has a clandestine business where she provides delicious, home-cooked meals to the culinarily challenged. The one caveat? No one can know that it's not actually them preparing these meals. With furtive hand-offs occurring in church parking lots and under bridges, there is plenty of humor and shady business to go around. When one of her signature dishes is used to kill the queen bee of the church social, Lilah has quite a few questions she must answer: Is there a killer in their midst? Why did they choose that dish? Should she come forward as the person who actually prepared that dish? Is her fledgling business ruined forever?

Characters: Lilah Drake and her sidekick, Mick the Labrador, are standouts. There is just enough detail, with the additional quirk or two, to make them both real and charming. I also greatly enjoyed her interactions with her family. In fact, I would say it is the relationships that Lilah has with the various figures in her small community that make this such a fun, interesting read.

However, I was not enamored with the potential love interest, police detective Jay Parker. The meet-cute was a typical misunderstanding that could've easily been cleared up, and his character felt a little stiff. I will give this a pass, however, since this is the first book in the series and I'm sure that Julia Buckley will take the time to further develop his character.

The Mystery: Cozy mysteries are not known for their intricate plots; they're more of a light, fun read where the effort to find out whodunnit is minimum. The Big Chili provided just enough twists and turns to keep it from being utterly predictable, and although I did manage to figure out the killer, it took me til nearly the very end to do so.

Final Bite: I'm definitely ready for a second helping. Whether you're a fan of cozies or just looking for a delicious summer read, be sure to check out The Big Chili.

Rating: 4/5


  1. I enjoyed another of Julia Buckley's books, and am definitely interested in this one.

    1. What book did you read? I'm pretty sure her new book, A Dark and Stormy Murder, comes out today. Might have to review that one as well, once I manage to snag a copy.