A fun and delicious book for readers with a sense of adventure who admire creativity

Murder at the Bijou: Three Ingredients I  - Teagan Riordain Geneviene

I am a big fan of Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene, as an author, a blogger, and I was lucky to discover her blog a few years back, and although I missed some of her early serials at the time of their initial conception, I have managed to catch up with them over time. I have also read her novel, Atonement, Tennessee (you can check my review here) and know that apart from an imagination that knows no bounds, and a love of period research and attention to detail, she has a way with words and can create magical characters that readers get to care for and make them live through situations that never fail to surprise us and keep us on tenterhooks.

As she explains in her description, she has been running a number of serials on her blog, pantser style. She asks her readers for things and/or ingredients, and she makes up a story that keeps developing as her imagination, and the things and ingredients, dictate. I am in awe at her creativity and I must recommend her blog (Teagan’s Books), as I know she is working on her next serial (and her process of creation is totally interactive).

Many of her readers (I included) kept telling her we would like to have the option of having her serials in book format, and eventually, she relented. I have reviewed her first serial in book format, Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story (you can read my review here) and many of the things I said about the previous book can be applied to this one. This is another light, fun, and fast book, with the same protagonist, Pip, a young woman, a flapper (as she keeps reminding herself and us, because being modern at the time was not an easy task), who, on this occasion, is sent to stay with her grandmother, Granny Phanny (she is a fabulous character, and although she would hate to be called a flapper, she is an utterly modern woman) in Savannah so she can learn how to cook. That helps introduce the ingredients part of the story, and the culinary theme adds a layer of interest to the story, although I would advise not to read the book when you’re very hungry, because although sometimes the ingredients don’t end up in a dish, they often do, and they all sound delicious.

Pip, who narrates the story in the first person, is recovering from a heartache and meets a cast of wonderful characters, from a family of Chinese restaurateurs, to a vet and his doctor wife, G-men, police officers, mobsters, and there is even a paranormal element in the story. Oh, and let’s not forget a collection of pets that will warm your hearts and make you laugh.

Pip’s language remains as peculiar as usual, and the author seamlessly includes the popular and fashionable expressions of the era in her book. I challenge readers not to end up using some of them, especially some of Pip’s favourites.  

I recommended readers of the previous serial to play a game and try and imagine in which direction they would send the story, or how they would use the three things at the beginning of each chapter. You can do the same here, and if you’re fond of cooking, I’m sure you will have fun exploring possible ways of using the ingredients, both to cook and to advance the story. And by the end of the book, you’ll be amazed at how the author has managed to create a cohesive story from such diverse elements.

I recommend this book to readers with a sense of fun and play who enjoy a fast and light mystery (cozy style. No explicit violence, although there is violence, no sex scenes) set in the Jazz Age (oh, don’t forget to follow the author’s blog if you enjoy that historical period as she shares a post on the subject every Wednesday), with charming characters and great food. And even if you don’t have a lot of time to read for long stretches at a time, as the serial was created to be read a chapter per week, it is very easy to follow the story and not get lost. So, there is no excuse!