Fear of Frying - Jill Churchill, Janice Young Brooks
For a light and quick weekend read, Jill Churchill's Fear of Frying fit the bill. For those of you unfamiliar with Churchill's Jane Jeffrys series (of which this is the ninth installment), amateur sleuth Jane is a single mother who likes to cook and/or eat, and has a detective boyfriend (a no-show in this story) and a best friend named Shelley. Despite the title, Jane doesn't do much cooking here, though it does give a hint with regards to the murder weapon of choice.

Along with various other people in their social circle (including two car dealership execs and their wives, a high school principal and her complacent husband), Jane and Shelley volunteer to spend a few days to evaluate Camp Sunshine, a wilderness resort which owner Benson Titus hopes to contract to the area school district for summer programs. Shades of Allan Sherman's "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah" are evident during this trip as a bit of heavy rain spoils the atmosphere for Jane and Shelley, but not so much as the lifeless body of car dealership owner Sam Claypool which they discover lying by a doused campfire.

When Sam turns up alive later that evening, and the rest of their working vacation is marred by environmental activists, a washed-out bridge leading to freedom and a grumpy sheriff, Jane and Shelley are hardly happy campers. All the same, it's fun to read. I hated camp, I sympathize entirely.

Fear of Frying may be predictable for some, but as a cozy read it works: I enjoyed being introduced to Jane and Shelley and hope to become more familiar with them in the future. They play off each other with good humor, they seem like real people and their ability to rely upon observation rather than blatant snooping is reminiscent of Christie's Miss Marple. A good read to take to the beach.