Friday, April 10, 2015

Introducing J.A. Lang & Chef Maurice with a Review & Giveaway

I'm so pleased to welcome J. A. Lang to the blog today. J.A. writes the Chef Maurice Mystery series. A prequel (Chef Maurice and a Rather Fishy Tale) was released last November, but the first full novel, Chef Maurice and a Spot of Truffle, was just released this week.

Kathy: Chef Maurice is a great new character. He is reminiscent of Hercule Poirot, Monsieur Pamplemousse and Charly Poisson, yet with a style completely his own. Are you a fan of these other characters?
JAL: I’m a huge Poirot fan. I’m currently collecting (well, amassing!) all the Poirot books in paperback, then after that it’ll be time to start on Miss Marple. I haven’t read the other two, but I like their surnames!

Kathy: I love food themed books, indeed, food themed almost anything (TV, film, clothing, ...) Do you consider yourself a foodie?
JAL: I think my friends and family would definitely class me as a raving foodie, seeing as I have food on the mind pretty much all the time! Whenever I plan a holiday, the first thing I look up is restaurants and local food producers. It’s a great way to get to know a region.

Kathy: Do you enjoy cooking yourself? How would you rate your cooking? 
JAL: I love cooking, though I wish I had more time to try more recipes and new cuisines. Rating my cooking? Eek! I attended culinary school in London a few years back, so I guess I should claim some level of competence, though my guests will have to be the judge of that! 

Kathy: I love Hamilton! How did you decide to tell some of the story from his point of view?
JAL: Good question, I don’t remember making any particular decision – I think he just turned up, butted me with his snout, and demanded to tell his part of the story! 

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
JAL: I grew up reading Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie, so cozy mysteries seemed the natural follow-on. I like the definition of cozies as ‘books to curl up with by the fire on a rainy Sunday afternoon’ – and who wouldn’t be drawn to that?

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
JAL: Not currently, but I’m reading a lot of period mysteries, especially Victorian ones, at the moment, so watch this space!

Kathy: Tell us about your series.
JAL: The Chef Maurice Mysteries are a series of culinary cozies set amidst the rolling hills of the Cotswolds, in which Chef Maurice, proprietor of a little French restaurant called Le Cochon Rouge, discovers a sudden appetite for solving crimes, leading to trouble all around for his friends, kitchen staff and, not least, the local constabulary...

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
JAL: I’ve got a soft spot for all of them, though of course Chef Maurice loves to hog the limelight!

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
JAL: I live in Oxford, near the Cotswolds, so the setting was an obvious choice. Otherwise, the characters just turned up one night in my head when I was trying to get to sleep, and that was it... 

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
JAL: I love the creative freedom of being able to have the final say about my books, whether it be the story itself or things like the design of the cover. Or perhaps it just means I’m a little bit of a control-freak!

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
JAL: Agatha Christie, Terry Pratchett, Colin Cotterill, Anthony Bourdain. Though I don’t know if they’d all get along!

Kathy: What are you currently reading?
JAL: A collection of Sherlock Holmes short stories and Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss. 

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
JAL: Oh dear. I think cooking, eating, reading and writing pretty much covers all my interests (and uses up all my time!) at the moment. I also love travelling, so long as there’s good food, good weather and, ideally, good wine. 

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
JAL: Tinned tomatoes. Soy sauce. Olive oil. Carrots. 

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
JAL: The second Chef Maurice book, Chef Maurice and the Wrath of Grapes, will be out this July. I think you can guess what this one might be about...

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
JAL: The freedom to set my own hours and work from anywhere I can plug in my laptop. And as a culinary cozy author, eating and cooking surely counts as research, right? *grin*



Chef Maurice and a Spot of Truffle by J.A. Lang
The First Chef Maurice Culinary Mystery

Are you hungry for a new culinary hero? Look no further than Chef Maurice, the man who whet my appetite in his prequel Chef Maurice and a Rather Fishy Tale. Take missing mushrooms, murder, and kidnapping. Heat with some messy romance and bungling break ins. Stir in some village characters and unsavory suspects. Add a dollop of humour and you have a recipe for a delightful mystery. While Chef Maurice and a Rather Fishy Tale was an amuse bouche Chef Maurice and a Spot of Truffle is a full course meal.

Chef Maurice is in trouble. He's running out of mushrooms and his supplier, Ollie Meadows, hasn't been seen in days. When Chef Maurice goes to Ollie's home he finds the delivery for his restaurant and he also finds a large bag of white truffles. Not quite the rare Alba truffles of Italy, these appear to have been grown in England-but how...and where? Chef Maurice is on the hunt with the help of his new business companion, Hamilton. However, it's not truffles they find, but the body of Ollie Meadows-murdered!

Chef Maurice is my new gastronomical hero. A man as determined to cook and eat a magnificent meal as to solve a mystery put before him. My favorite character, however, has to be Hamilton , the pig. Although I was a bit concerned when he entered the story (one must take pause when a chef adopts a live pig) the relationship that develops between Hamilton and Chef Maurice is a joy to witness. We also get to hear a little of the story from Hamilton's point of view-a decided treat, as is the commentary from the cow!

I am enamoured of this new series which delivers unique characters in a charming setting with a realistic restaurant background.


For a chance to win this fabulous prize pack click on the following link to be taken to J.A. Lang's giveaway:

Contest open to US and UK residents over 18 years old.
Contest will end on April 30, 2015 at 11:59 PM GMT, and the winner will be chosen at random and notified by email.


  1. Thank you for the interview and review! Both of them were great. I am looking forward to learning more about Hamilton. He sounds like a cutie!