Cover Image: Murphy's Slaw

Murphy's Slaw

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This is book 3 in the Alaskan Diner Mystery series and it's a great addition.  It can be read as a stand alone.  I have a desire to someday visit Alaska and this series only makes me long for the opportunity more.   Charlie Cook runs the Bear Claw diner and loves living in her home town .  When a friend is murdered at the Alaska State Fair, Charlie and her fellow sleuths who work as unofficial deputies are on the case.   Charlie's cat, Bennie is a fun addition to the story.  I received a copy of this ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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The latest Alaskan Diner Mystery, Murphy’s Slaw, by Elizabeth Logan, does not disappoint!  I have read the entire Alaskan Diner Mystery series thus far and it has been interesting to see how the characters have grown and evolved from book to book.  In Murphy’s Slaw, Charlie and her friends set out to solve the murder of their high school friend, Kelly.  The book kept my attention and I found out that I was thinking about the case the same way that Charlie was.  I really enjoyed this mystery and I believe other mystery lovers will enjoy it as well.  I hope that the Alaskan Diner Mystery series will continue!  Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read this book!  (This review is also on GoodReads.)
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Everyone knows about “Murphy’s Law”, that entirely too often true dictum that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Then there’s Cole’s Law, which is shredded cabbage with mayo, with or without shredded carrots. There’s another version of Cole’s Law, at least according to the Urban Dictionary, that when dining out, either one person will eat everyone’s coleslaw, or nobody eats the coleslaw at all.

Somewhere west of everything there’s Charlie Cooke’s coleslaw at her Bear Claw Diner in tiny Elkview, Alaska, which doesn’t use mayo in the coleslaw – using vinaigrette instead, and her recipe is included in the back of the book – along with a few other tasty treats!

While people come to the Bear Claw Diner for those tasty treats – along with a bit of traditional diner cooking and flair – it’s not possible, at least not yet, for the delicious aromas and mouth-watering mooseloaf to make their way out of the pages of the book – not that the descriptions won’t make you hungry.

We’re here for the murder mystery, the portrait of life in small-town Alaska, and reading about the way that Charlie Cooke spoils her cat Eggs Benedict – better known as Benny – absolutely rotten. (Sometimes the amount of spoiling Benny gets makes me feel a bit guilty about the relative paucity of treats for our own four cats. And sometimes it makes me feel a bit better that we don’t spoil them quite THAT much!)

Murphy’s Slaw serves up plenty of all of the above, as Charlie and her fellow volunteer investigators find themselves scouring the Alaska State Fair in nearby Palmer for clues to the Fair-site murder of their friend KC. For a woman that everyone in Elkview seems to have loved, there sure are plenty of motives for KC’s murder. It’s ferreting out the possible suspects that keeps Charlie and Company on their investigative toes!

Escape Rating B: I read and enjoy this series because it allows me to vicariously re-visit a place that I once lived and mostly enjoyed. (Except for January, January in Anchorage absolutely sucks rocks.) I still tell Alaska stories from my own time there, and I love reading Alaska stories – especially when it feels like the author gets things plausibly right – as this author generally does.

I have to say that one of the things I read this series for is the way that Charlie spoils her cat “Benny” rotten to an amazing degree. Our cats are spoiled, but she does take the concept to new dimensions. But providing a feline with their due is not quite enough to power an entire series.

So, one of the things that I especially enjoy about this series that probably has more “legs” to power a series is the brush with plausibility of Charlie and her friends assisting Trooper, the Alaska State Trooper assigned to Elkview and its surrounds, with his investigations. There are a lot of ways that things get done differently in Alaska because there are relatively few people spread out over a very big space. The state budget has been shrinking the past several years while there are many more things done at the state level than is common in the “Lower 48” as there are relatively few cities or large towns and there is no governmental unit that is the equivalent of a county. And if there’s no counties, that means there are no county sheriffs, either.

So things are done just a bit differently. Meaning that while Elkview seems to have the same homicide rate as Bar Harbor, Maine or Midsomer County in England, there are considerably fewer police agencies to deal with those homicides and it feels more likely that local volunteers might get enlisted to the cause. (Even if it doesn’t happen in real life at all.)

Something else this story highlights is just how few degrees of separation there are between people. Charlie and her bestie Annie knew the victim in high school. They also have continuing interactions because KC was a local farmer and supplier to Charlie’s diner and possibly even Annie’s inn. KC’s mother and Charlie’s mother are friends. Her murder hits close to home, as does the search for her murderer.

So I enjoy watching Charlie solve the mystery in this series, usually by getting herself smack in the middle of it whether she intended to or not. But what I sink into with a grateful sigh is the cozy small town ambiance that reminds me of somewhere I still remember fondly.

The one element I could have lived without in this particular entry in the series is the “bobble” in the relationship between Charlie and her best friend Annie over whether either of them can, or should, take even the first steps in a potential romantic relationship with the third member of their investigative trio, newspaper reporter Chris Doucette. Chris, of course, is not present for this discussion, but the difficulties that it raises between Charlie and Annie, and between Charlie and Chris, casts a strange air over their performance of their “regular” sleuthing for entirely too much of a chunk of the story. Not every long-running mystery series requires a romance between any of the continuing characters. My 2 cents.

But it all did get resolved by the end, along with the murder. So I’ll be back the next time the author takes a trip to Elkview. After all, I have to see how Benny is doing!
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In the 3rd of the Alaskan Diner series, Charlie is asked by Trooper Graham to check out the crime scene next to the State Fair where a woman was murdered.  When it turns out the woman was a friend of hers, the case becomes personal and Charlie overcomes her intense dislike of the Fair and sets off with a mission.  Once again Trooper Graham plays puppet master to his "volunteer detectives" and Charlie and journalist Chris and their friends gradually dislodge clues and secrets while checking out some of the charms of the Alaska State Fair. Naturally this requires lots of trips to the diner for a dinner review with Trooper and provisioning, as well as checking in with her cat Eggs Benedict (Benny).  This is the first time Charlie has worked on a crime where the victim was a friend, and it hits her pretty hard, and takes her a while to work through her emotions.  Good continuing character development of her and her friends, and change in the community to keep things fresh.  Good mystery, sensible character actions.  Very well done cozy.  Highly recommend.
My copy was an eARC from NetGalley.
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This was my first foray into the Alaskan Diner mystery series, and I hope it’s not my last.
Charlie Cooke owns the Bear Claw Diner, a popular place to be for local townspeople as well as those who are passing through.
Her friend Annie Jensen, who owns the local motel, convinces Charlie to go with her to the state fair. Charlie really doesn’t care for the fair, but agrees to go, especially after Cody Graham, the local state trooper, asks her to look into the death of a vendor. As it happens, the deceased woman woman just happens to be Charlie’s friend, Kelly. Charlie finds herself back at the fairgrounds more than once as she tries to help Annie and Chris, a local reporter, figure out who the guilty party is.
Now, I need to local the first two books for more detail about the relationships among some of the quirky characters.
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Bear Claw Diner owner Charlie Cooke is dreading a trip to the Alaska State Fair, despite the enthusiasm of nearly everyone else around her. Her teenage experiences staffing the cotton candy machines have ruined an annual event most other people look forward to, so it’s with great reluctance that she accepts her best friend Annie Jensen’s invitation to make a day trip of it. When State Trooper Cody Graham, or Trooper as she prefers to call the man she’s known as an authority figure and friend almost all her life, alerts the women to the fact that he’ll need their help as his deputies at the fair, Charlie perks up considerably… until she realizes that it’s due to the fact that another old friend of hers has been murdered just on the outskirts.

With local reporter and fellow deputy -- and Charlie’s sometime love interest -- Chris Doucette in tow, the friends use their day at the fair to gather as much information as possible while Trooper attends a mandatory law enforcement conference that allocates funding throughout the state. Charlie and Annie are saddened by the fact that the victim, Kelly Carson, was not only two years ahead of them in high school but was also a vendor to their businesses, and someone they were regularly in contact and friendly with. It seems inconceivable that someone could have stabbed her to death right as the fair was closing the night before.

The question, of course, is whodunnit? Who could possibly want to harm, much less murder, a likeable woman who’d dropped out of college in order to raise her orphaned nephew while making a success of her family farm? Could it have been a shady boyfriend, or a neighbor with a land dispute, or someone with even more nefarious purposes? Soon, Charlie is jumping at shadows as she worries she might be next on the killer's list. Even more distracting for her is the growing attraction between Annie and Chris, and what this might mean for her own relationships with them.

This third installment of the Alaskan Diner mystery series was a little more slowly paced than its predecessors but was still a fascinating look at life way up in the north. Revolving around the Alaska State Fair and the quirks of law enforcement in our largest but least densely populated state, it showcases a collaborative, community-based approach to crime-solving that's perfect for the cozy mystery genre. The relationships also take center-stage, not only in the nascent love triangle, but also in Charlie's bonds with her traveling parents as well as with her beloved cat Benny.

As always there were two recipes included, one fairly accessible, the other slightly more complicated. As always, I opted for the easier one:

QUOTE
Slaw
Makes approximately 10 servings

8 cups red and green cabbage, shredded
4 medium carrots, shredded
½ cup parsley leaves, coarsely chopped

Dressing
½ cup canola oil
½ cup white vinegar
1 T dry mustard
3 T sugar
1 tsp celery seeds
salt and pepper to taste

Toss cabbage and carrots and parsley.

Mix all other ingredients to make dressing.

Pour dressing over cabbage and carrot mixture, wetness to taste.

Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
END QUOTE

This vegan coleslaw is perfectly piquant, with the dry mustard and celery seed balancing nicely with the sugar in the dressing. It's great as a side, as pictured, where I enjoyed it with some delicious Mexican food. I also recommend trying the slaw mixed with a protein for a salad or for a sandwich filling. The brightness of the slaw is especially delicious with tuna fish. 

This recipe also halves nicely if you're not making it for too large a group. I even used pre-shredded cabbage from the store to save myself a step, but also to cut down on the quite large amount of coleslaw the original recipe makes. Bonus: this recipe comes just in time for cookout and picnic weather!

Next week, we catch up with one of my favorite paranormal-tinged mystery series while whipping up an amazing Hungarian dish. Do join me!
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First time reading this series. I enjoyed the characters and the setting. They mystery kept me guessing. I plan on going back and reading the previous books. 

Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for my eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Charlie Cooke, manager of the Bear Claw Diner, and human who is owned by Eggs Benedict Cooke, her cat. is up to her neck in yet another mystery. This time she and the rest of Trooper’s Deputies are helping out when a produce seller is murdered at the Alaska State Fair. We find out that Charlie really doesn’t like to go to the fair and hasn’t been there in years. This homicide hits close to home for Charlie and her best friend and neighbor, Annie. It turns out that the victim, KC, had gone to the same school and was only a couple of grades ahead of the pair. 
With Charlie, Annie, and Chris tasked with following up at the fair, and helping out Trooper with trying to solve the case, they would meet nightly to go over the case and give updates to what they discovered. No stone left unturned, no tire left unchecked, no witness not interviewed, no belly unfed. 
I was able to figure out early on who the killer was, and why, then I had to wade through a lot of filler before the killer was unmasked at the end. Also, she’s the manager of a restaurant, but barely did more than check in during most of the book. Even if she had a great staff, a manager would be in her restaurant more than just for dinner, making her staff do the extra work of creating meals for the four taking up space and all at her expense. I understand that she offered, but most family run businesses don’t turn a large profit. That’s a lot of expense on her part. This was the first book I read in the series and I didn’t feel lost at any point, so you don’t have to worry about not having read the earlier books. 

**I received an ARC of this story from the Publisher and Netgalley and this is my honest and voluntary review.
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Brought to you by OBS reviewer Andra       

Murphy’s Slaw is the third book in the Alaskan Diner Mystery. While this is the third book in the series, this is the first book I have read by this author –  regardless of the name she is writing under (aka Camille Minichino and the pseudonyms of: Elizabeth Logan, Jean Flowers, Ada Madison and Margaret Grace). I found the story enjoyable and it flowed very well.

The book starts off with Charlie finally agreeing to her best friend’s request to visit the state fair (a place that Charlie does not enjoy nor even want to go to!). But before they get a chance to leave, Alaska State Trooper Cody Graham comes to Charlie’s home and asks Charlie (Charlotte) to gather her “sleuthing” posse (unofficial deputies) and go to the state fair to investigate the murder of a local woman down in Palmer, Alaska – the town where the state fair is being held. So Charlie, Chris and Annie (Charlie’s best friend from childhood) head to the fairgrounds to investigate the death of Kelly A Carson. Turns out Kelly was a school mate of Charlie’s so this murder is hitting Charlie very hard.

I found the organization proclivities of Charlie amusing (keeping an “agenda” for nightly dinner meetings of the posse (plus Trooper Graham) to discuss the progress made with their sleuthing and keeping track of assigned tasks.

As there frequently is with cozy mysteries, there were a number of potential “murderers”, all with viable reasons for wanting Kelly dead. The posse work through the list systematically and as they do, more red herrings seem to abound and confuse them (and potentially the reader). But they all work hard and in the end – the mystery of who murdered Kelly is solved (as it is in cozy mysteriesJ). There were also some additional storylines (like Annie and Charlie have a minor falling out or the introduction of a new state trooper) that added a different dimension to the story so that the reader could get to know the town and its people.  I really enjoyed how Charlie treated her staff!

One item that was a bit confusing, and possibly reading the first and/or second book in the series might have helped (or a bit more back story in this particular tale) is the development to date of the main protagonist (Charlie) and her relationship with newspaper man Chris Doucette.

And it was never explained, but I got the feeling that Benny, an orange tabby, was Charlie’s therapy cat (or so it appeared to me). Charlie was watching him on her “BennieCam” when away from the house and the story spent an inordinate amount of time with Charlie worrying about and spending time with her cat, in my opinion – so much so that I felt it detracted a bit from the story for me.

All in all, a satisfying cozy mystery that kept me guessing for quite a while, though I must admit I did figure out “whodunit” about ¾ of the way through the book. The writing was good and the methodical flow of the story was nice. I also enjoyed getting to know some peripheral characters (like Charlie’s mom).

If you like cozy mysteries with interesting and quirky characters (and a cool location – Alaska), then I suggest picking up Murphy’s Slaw.
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This series is a fun one with lots of elements that I always enjoy.  I love that the setting isn't just window dressing and life in non-Anchorage Alaska gets discussed.  I really enjoy the team investigation aspect from Trooper who is actually law enforcement and then Charlie, her friend the local innkeeper Annie, and reporter Chris.  They each bring a different perspective to the investigation which I really enjoy.  I also really enjoy the dynamics of the diner with customers and staff and all the food talk.

The mystery is an interesting one though emotionally a bit harder for Charlie as the victim is an old friend.  There's a mix of guilt and obligation fueling Charlie and Annie in their investigation and bunches of clues though no real obvious motive - at least not at first.  I really enjoy the mystery and the read in general and always like spending time in Alaska!

I have a couple of very minor issues with the book.  Charlie is obsessed with her cat Benny who does seem like a pretty great cat but she's always checking in on him through the camera.  Or sharing stories of his antics. Or reading stories to him or buying treats for him or whatever else.  To me, it felt like it slowed down the pacing a bit.  That said, this series is quickly turning into a reliably entertaining series with a great cast and an interesting setting.
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This is the third book in the Alaskan Diner series and I think it has finally reached its stride. Charlie and the crew are called in to investigate the murder of a local produce farmer. Charlie is saddened by the knowledge that the victim is a former classmate. She, Annie and Chris attend the local state fair to dig up clues.

This is by far the best book in the series. The characters have settled into good, dependable roles have have very distinct personalities. I love all the  diner talk and the variety of food that the Bear Claw Diner provides. Charlie and Annie have a bit of a rough patch in this book but everything is resolved before the end.

It amazes me that Trooper allows civilians to investigate local murders. But they do come up with great information for the case. I had suspicions  early on who the culprit was and did get it right.

As a cat owner (or someone who is owned by cats!), I enjoy the interaction between Charlie and Benny. I think she may be a bit over the top with her constant surveillance of him, but I do understand the need to check in on him.

The plot is well done and leads us through a variety of  situations that could be the reason behind the murder. This was an enjoyable read and I look forward to the next book.

Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Books for providing me with a copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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The was a DNF for me.  After the first hundred pages of repetition and little forward movement all based on an unlikely scenario of a police sheriff unofficially deputizing a restaurant owner, innkeeper, and newspaper reporter to investigate a murder at a fair, left me shaking my head in wonder. 

No additional reviews will be left.
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Charlie dislikes going to the state fair, but when her best friend begs her to go for a day, she grudgingly agrees to go. When they discover that one of the vendors, who also was a supplier for Charlie's diner, has been murdered, they are determined to find out what happened. 

This is the third book in the Alaskan Diner series, and I have to admit that the series is growing on me. The first two books were only so-so, in my opinion, but this one was better, maybe because we're getting to know the characters better as the series progresses. I like watching relationships grow and change, and it was interesting to learn so much about the carnie side of fairs and festivals. 

It's a little hard to believe that a state trooper would deputize a handful of civilians to help investigate murders, but I appreciated the way Charlie and the others reported their findings to Trooper on a regular basis, rather than keeping things to themselves like so many other cozy sleuths do. There were plenty of clues and suspects, and I thought I knew the identity of the murderer, but it wasn't until it was revealed in the story that I knew for sure. I look forward to reading the next book in this series.
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I absolutely adore the Alaskan setting in this cozy mystery series. Elizabeth Logan does a fantastic job of creating an atmosphere that lets the reader envision the scenery of the town and the characters. This book was well-written and fast paced, and I enjoyed the mystery very much.
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An Alaskan themed cozy series featuring Charlie, who comes home from the big city to run her mom's cafe/diner in a small Alaskan town. When Charlie and her ditzy friend Annie are visiting the fair, Charlie discovers the body of a food vendor.

Charlie and a couple of friends help the local state trooper investigate crimes at his invitation, a pretty unbelievable plot element. And a lot of time is spent describing interactions with the cat Charlie shares with her travelling mom.

A quick read that cat lovers might appreciate. Thanks to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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I had fun reading this latest book in the Alaskan Diner series.
Charlie is a fun character, and this story is fast paced and exciting.
Charlie loves her diner, her friends, and her cat, Eggs Benedict, known as Benny.
What she doesn't like is going to the fair, but when her friend Annie begs Charlie to go with her, she gives in.
Unfortunately for Charlie, a murder hits close to home, and she finds herself trying to find the answers, while trying to figure out how to maneuver her relationships with her friends.

I'm starting to really enjoy this series as I get to know all of the characters.
I'm looking forward to reading more in this series.
 #MurphysSlaw #NetGalley
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I love Camille Minichino's books. The In Miniature series she writes as Margaret Grace is really good and this series has become another that I look forward to reading. In this book one of Charlie's suppliers at the diner meets a bitter end and Trooper enlists the help of his erstwhile team of deputies to solve the crime.

A lot of developments take place in this book. There's somewhat of a falling out between Charlie and Annie, things get a little awkward between Charlie and Chris, we get to hear about Charlie's parents trip to Oregon, and Charlie begins to dream a bit about her own future. I really like how the characters are developing and growing and how we're seeing subtle changes in their lives through the books in this series. Hopefully the series will continue for a long time!

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC.
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The third installment in the An Alaskan Diner Mystery Series, Murphy's Slaw, by Elizabeth Logan was such a fun book! This one takes place in the Alaskan summer at the state fair. The band is back together to help diner owner Charlie Cook solve the murder of a high school friend KC. This one was cozy and as the series develops I can really see how fleshed out favorite characters are becoming! I think this series has the ability to be long standing and would recommend to fans of Joanna Fluke's Hannah Swenson Series!
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I received this ARC via Netgalley and Berkley Publishing Group, in return for an honest review. While the third book in this series, it is easily read as a standalone.  Charlie Cook loves her Alaskan hometown, particularly since she’s returned from the lower 48 and a cheating ex.  Now running the Bear Claw Diner since her parents retired to enjoy a traveling life, Charlie also dotes on the cat she inherited from them as well.  What she doesn’t like is visiting the Alaskan State Fair.  Convinced by her best friend, Annie, that it can be a day of research for diner recipes, Charlie and Annie are also conscripted to supplement the local State Police Trooper and investigating a suspicious death.  Sadly, they realize the deceased is a high school classmate and things are pointing to murder.  But why?  Charlie and her intrepid friends, including Benny the cat, know there’s more going on than riding the rides and eating the funnel cakes!  This is quite the cast of fun and quirky characters.  Charlie is a believable heroine and not hesitant to ask for help from her friends.  The setting and the descriptions are the next best thing to visiting Alaska!
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The third installment is a solid entry in the Alaskan Diner Mystery series. Please see my complete review at www.reviewingtheevidence.com.
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