"A Catered New Year’s Eve": A Chocolate Trigger Warning

A Catered New Year’s Eve by Isis Crawford is just the sort of cozy little murder mystery to curl up with on a blustery day. Sisters Bernie and Libby slosh their way through wind, snow, and dysfunctional family members to figure out just who the murderer is. It is a daunting task, confounded by not knowing how many murders have happened.

There aren’t so much twists and turns in this mystery as there are jolts, stops, dead-ends, and spin-outs. For being experienced sleuths, Bernie and Libby aren’t particularly good at solving crimes. The major leg work was done by their father, Sean, and a team of retired, bored cops. Bernie and Libby’s main contribution seem to be over-stretching their minivan and terrifying their father into helping them. But, what they lack in insight, they make up in gumption and pastries. Lots and lots of pastries.

This is the fifteenth installment in the “A Mystery with Recipes” series, but the first I’ve read. It assumes that there is a history that the readers have with the characters, so certain parts of them are left unexplained. Why did Bernie move back from California? Why does neither sister like their widowed father’s new fiancé? What’s up with the cat? In her writing style, Crawford relies heavily on dialogue rather than description. While this does allow the reader to make up their own mind about characters, which I love, it also is difficult for some people to enjoy.

If forced family fun becomes too much this season, maybe treat yourself to a pastry and tea, curl up on a couch, and let “A Catered New Year’s Eve” convince you that, actually, they aren’t that bad. It’s not like they tried to run you off the road . . . I hope.

Also . . . the coconut-ginger-lentil soup recipe at the end was delicious and all I’ll be eating this week.