Series: Café La Femme #1
Published by: Deadlines
ISBN 13: 9780987216298
Published: March 2013
Format reviewed: Paperback
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended
Related Reviews: The Blackmail Blend (Café La Femme, #1.5) / Drowned Vanilla (Café La Femme, #2)
A Trifle Dead by Livia Day is the first in the Café La Femme series, a fun crime series set in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. I say fun, as I’m not generally into the crime genre – it would make a very small percentage of what I read year to year. This series is different though – it’s sharp and witty with a great focus on food and excellent characters.
Tabitha Darling in particular, our protagonist. Owner of the café Le Femme, she’s also the daughter of the previous Police Superintendent, which means most of the police force still frequent her café in both an effort to support her, as well as keep an eye on her. It doesn’t help that her mum used to own said café. They all see her as ‘Geoff and Rose Darlin’s previous little girl’ still, which is a shame as Senior Constable Leo Bishop could certainly pay her a little more attention and she certainly wouldn’t mind, as much as she hates herself for thinking it.
She soon gets her wish as trouble seems to find her. Or she doesn’t hesitate in finding it – either way. Like a dog with an itch, Tabitha just can’t leave a mystery alone which soon has her dragging a few (awesome) friends along, running through Hobart described in a way that makes anyone who’s been there know exactly what they’re seeing, and anyone who’s never been there want to book a holiday pronto.
The book is also full of geeky little pop-culture tidbits, as well as a range of characters who don’t fill the usual parameters. Tabitha’s flatmate for example is refreshing to see, and easily one of my favourite characters if Tabitha and the bitey Nin didn’t already take up so much of that space. And then there’s also Xanthippe. And Bishop is adorable too. So really, it’s impossible to have a favourite character in this series as they’re all so damn good.
The crime in this is believable and well-realised; I certainly didn’t manage to piece it all together by the end when it’s all revealed – you always think you have it all figured out, and then she manages to work in yet another little twist to leave you one step behind.
Two things of note in this series – yes, there is a love triangle. No, this isn’t a bad thing because Livia Day shows how it can be done well. Similarly, there’s a character called Stewart McTavish, who has an accent. Usually one may cringe to see the accent written out in his dialogue – I know I usually do, and I looked upon this with a harsh eye… and yet, this is another thing that Livia pulls off as though it’s easy.
Livia Day happens to also be Tansy Rayner Roberts, one of my favourite authors known for her work pretty much anywhere – fantasy series Creature Court, one third of the podcast Galactic Suburbia, web-serial Musketeer Space, and a dozen other things. She could write about the telephone book and I’d be there. Check this series out, check out anything by Tansy/Livia, and you won’t be disappointed.