Lord of the Pies by Nell Hampton

A Kensington Palace Chef Mystery

When Carrie Ann Cole bakes a lemon meringue pie to die for that actually kills someone, she must find out who the real killer is before her time at the Kensington Palace expires.

The elegant Orangery at Kensington Palace is the perfect setting for the bridal shower of Carrie Ann Cole’s best friend’s sister. Personal chef to the royal family, Carrie Ann’s pie theme is naturally winning. But a waiter later keels over dead into the lemon meringue pie she leaves as a thank-you to the staff and Carrie Ann realizes that somebody slipped a mickey into that meringue.

Her floury fingerprints are all over that pie and the authorities suspect her distress is a cover-up for murder. Carrie Ann must set out to clear her name if she wants to stay at her dream job any longer. But all too soon, another body drops in the Orangery. This time, it’s the Orangery chef.

Murder won’t crimp her style, and as bodies pile up, Carrie Ann uncovers palace intrigue, London nightlife, and British pies scouring for the killer in Lord of the Pies, the witty follow-up to Nell Hampton’s Kale to the Queen.

"Despite it being used as a murder weapon, now I'm craving pie."

The first Kensington Palace Chef Mystery, Kale to the Queen, established newcomer Private Chef Carrie Ann Cole into the kitchen for the Royal Family at Kensington Palace. In that book characters were introduced and setting established, but even though I recommend usually reading sequels in order, this one will serve fine to read out of sync if you only have the follow-up book.

Carrie is no longer a newbie to the kitchen but she’s still making waves and battling the lead head chef, this time through a cooking contest that’s filmed for charity on TV. When murder takes place and fingers start pointing toward Carrie’s pie, she has to solve the crime not only to clear up her reputation, but to prevent the body count from climbing. There’s multiple murders in this one, which pushes the mystery and the clues out through action rather than just introspective dialogue and detective skills. Carrie has clearly become a better detective since her first crime, but she still depends on the interesting and somewhat colorful staff in the Royal Palace.

As with most cozies, the violence isn’t graphic and there is humor. For the foodie fans, this is among the best since it digs into detail on various recipes, emphasizes all sorts of dishes and types, and gives a generous portion of recipes at the end of the book.

Must try that pie!

As with the first novel, while the mystery is interesting enough to dig into, it’s the setting and the characters who really bring out the novel’s memorable flavor. The budding romance isn’t cheesy but it’s certainly plausible, Carrie is likable as a heroine, and the staff she employs shows realistic hardships when it comes to finding dependable chefs who put up with difficult situations.

Fortunately this one didn’t let the reader sit too long either, dishing out more action that I figured it would. I didn’t guess the villains exactly, but the twists weren’t a huge surprise – although there were some things that made me raise my eyebrows and layered the motive behind the poisonings more than I expected.

If you’re a fan of cozies that retain cute humor but that avoid going overboard on being too cutesy, that keep some realism and seriousness mixed into the story – you’ll like this one. Top it off with recipes and a genuine enthusiasm for cooking, and you’ll see why Carrie is so cherished among the Royal Palace staff.

Received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review