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Monday, July 23, 2012

Someone’s in the Kitchen with Dinah by Barbara Pearson Arau

Someone’s in the Kitchen with Dinah by Barbara Pearson Arau
A Dinah McKinnon Mystery
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (176 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Cooking columnist meets her match in the Florida Keys, as she battles a crazed killer along with a raging hurricane.

When she moves to the Florida Keys, cooking columnist Dinah finds herself entangled with a wacky group of artists, fishing captains and rednecks, one of whom may be responsible for two grisly murders. Sassy, funny and glib, yet basically compassionate, Dinah becomes the target of someone’s rage as she works on her new cookbook and tries to adjust to the possibility of a new life and a new love. When a hurricane smashes into her island, she is suddenly on the run for her life. Filled with humor, suspense, mouthwatering recipes and crackling dialogue, this is the story of how a gutsy young woman, hoping to heal her own emotional wounds, succeeds in restoring more than one broken spirit.

All Dinah wanted was some time and space to pull herself together. She got a hurricane and a couple of murders instead.

Dinah earned my respect almost immediately. She demonstrated admirable strength and resilience after the death of her father and the collapse of her marriage by setting out on her own and moving on with her life. Even when her smooth talking ex-husband makes an unexpected and unwanted appearance, Dinah puts him firmly in his place. She is certainly not the sort of woman to let others run over her. As with many well rounded characters, Dinah has a softer side as well. She is a very compassionate person who makes friends easily no matter their background or what other people may think. Her relationship with Amanda, a young girl who doesn’t speak, is especially sweet.

Webb Key is home to many colorful characters, but Rena is by far the most developed. She has a larger than life personality and is very bold and brash. Rena is the sort of person who has no qualms about poking her nose into other people’s business. I’m not entirely sure that Rena and I would get along well if we were to meet. I think I’d find her personality a bit overwhelming. However, Rena is a caring soul and she generally means well. At first I thought that Rena and Dinah might not get along, but I was pleasantly surprised to see how quickly they bonded and how well they worked together to solve the murders.

Someone’s in the Kitchen with Dinah contains not one, but two mysteries. Dinah first begins looking into the murders, but as she begins digging up dirt on the inhabitants of Webb Key, she discovers a second puzzle surrounding her young friend, Amanda. As I read, I was constantly kept guessing as to whether or not the murders were connected to Amanda’s situation. I thought both mysteries were wrapped up well, if a bit too quickly for my taste. I especially wanted to know more about the plot surrounding Amanda. I felt that some events of the past were glossed over a bit too quickly and I was left wanting a bit more detail.

Dinah and Joe's budding relationship adds just the right amount of romance to this tale. Joe seems to be the complete opposite of Dinah’s ex-husband, so it was easy for me to see why she would be so attracted to him. I do think Joe could have been a bit more rounded. All I really know about him is that he is a very down to earth man with amazing blue eyes and a passion for architecture. Dinah and Joe develop feelings for each other quickly and it isn’t long before their relationship is on the fast track. I was a bit worried that things were moving too rapidly between them. However, Ms. Arau put together a wonderful “happy for now” ending that fit Dinah’s situation perfectly.

Someone’s in the Kitchen with Dinah is certainly a fun book to read. Dinah was easy to like and I truly enjoyed watching her tackle her first mystery. I look forward to reading about her adventures in the future.