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January 28, 2023

Against the Currant by Olivia Matthews ~ a Review

by Donna Huber


Lyndsay Murray has long dreamed of open a bakery with her family that celebrated their Caribbean heritage. Just as that dream is about to be a reality, rival bakery owner Claudio is found murdered in his home. Though all the evidence is circumstantial, are the police even looking at other possible suspects or are they just looking for more evidence against Lyndsay?

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of cozy mystery Against the Currant by Olivia Matthews
January 2023; St. Martin's; 978-1250839046
audio, ebook, print (304 pages); cozy mystery

I'm always on the lookout for new cozy mysteries, particularly ones that are unique in some way. Against the Currant is book one in Oliva Matthews's Spice Isle Bakery Mystery series. It is set in a neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York known as Little Caribbean. 

Lyndsay, along with her parents and brother, immigrated to the U.S. when Lyndsay was little more than an infant. Sometimes later her grandmother joins the family in New York. Extended family also live in the family. I think this is the only cozy mystery series I've read that features an immigrant as the main character.

This is my first book by Olivia Matthews though she has several novels which are part of two other series.

I thought the premise was a good one. I love culinary cozies and I liked learning about the Caribbean culture. I had never heard of the phrase "She kissed her teeth." I'm assuming it is an idiom common in their culture. I think it is like sucking air through your teeth.

Unfortunately, I found the execution lacking. The pacing was off. And a pet peeve of mine is continuity issues and this one had a few. The timeline was off in a couple scenes. For example, it was around midnight when one scene started and the characters drove 20 minutes home, told their story, called the police and family, the brother came to the house, and then they drove back to the scene to meet the police and it was just after midnight when they get there. Then they go over what happened with the police and then drive back home and it is still just after midnight. 

I know this is the first book in a new series so there is some amount of set-up and explanation required but it felt like there was too much explaining of things in the first several chapters and it was repeated a number of times. I felt like I was being beat over the head with the fact she opened a family bakery among other facts. There was a lot of telling instead of showing as well. All of this added up and diminished my enjoyment of the novel. It was such a slow start. We know who is going to get killed and who is going to be accused of the murder early on and I found myself thinking "can we hurry up and get to the murder?" I found it to be a boring read that was a struggle to get into.

Some of the characters have potential. I wasn't overly fond of the main character Lyndsay. I found her to be a little too immature. She should have moved on from high school by now. I know it's hard as I too was mistreated in school, but she's been to college and graduate school and worked at a marketing firm. She's probably in her 30s by now and shouldn't still be thinking of herself as the shy, tormented child. I've moved on and I didn't enjoy reliving the toxic thoughts through the character.

I think the secondary characters could have been put to better use. I was expecting some good zingers from her grandmother. And I couldn't really figure out why Lyndsay's cousin Reena was around sometimes. She is there to be a foil to Lyndsay and she fills that role well but she doesn't have a stake in the business as far as I could figure out. I assume she is supposed to fill the quirky sidekick role which she doesn't do as well. But seeing as Lyndsay doesn't have any friends outside of family, she is the best choice for a sidekick and contemporary confidente.

I often find the first book in a new cozy mystery to be a bit of a bumpy ride - it is why I often don't start a new series with book 1 (I like coming in around book 3 or 4). I would consider reading a second book in this series to see if some of the kinks get worked out as I do think it has the potential to be a fun series.

Buy Against the Currant at Amazon


Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour



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