Review: Drowned Vanilla by Livia Day

DrownedVanillaSeries: Café La Femme #2
Published by: Deadlines
ISBN: 192210101X
ISBN 13: 9781922101013
Published: August 2014
Pages: 356
Format reviewed: Paperback
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended
Related Reviews: A Trifle Dead (Café La Femme, #1) / The Blackmail Blend (Café La Femme, #1.5)

Drowned Vanilla is the second book in the Café La Femme series, with a short novelette in-between. Still set in Hobart and still running her amazing café, trouble finds Tabitha yet again when a young woman goes missing. Literally finds her, as one of the flat mates to the missing girl has had Tabitha recommended to her now that she has a reputation for solving crimes. Especially as the girls feel they can’t go to the police for this, as they live in a house completely swarming with webcams. They sell their ordinary lives to the internet to make money for rent and so on, and have strict rules for what they need to abide for their paying customers.

Her flat mates tell Tabitha that in the recorded footage, their friend was reading on the couch – the power goes off – four minutes later, she’s gone with a pair of shoes but her mobile, handbag and everything else were left behind. There’s not a struggle, but the security into the house is also pretty secure – though that of course goes when the power’s out.

As if that’s not enough to keep Tabitha busy, she also gets roped into acting in an arty film noir project in the historical town of Flynn. Along with the very cute-accent Stewart, which only entangles Tabitha in more trouble. Some that eventually everyone she seems to know on the planet eventually sees.

Xanthippe plays more of a role in this one – one of Tabitha’s weird and excellent friends – and the background characters in this one are more gritty rather than geeky as we see in the first book. The book as a whole is less geeky and more crimey, but that’s okay – we’re reading a crime novel after all, and we can survive not reading speculative fiction every so often. The wit and the dialogue make up for this in spades.

It also doesn’t hurt that throughout this book Tabitha is trying to come up with the perfect ice cream recipe, and is thoroughly upset with the people in her life that think vanilla ice cream is good. Surely it’s just too boring, and she’s determined to find the perfect recipe for the hot summer Hobart is currently going through.

Personally I’d be one of the people Tabitha hates – a good vanilla bean ice cream is all I need to keep me happy (or at least it was before my lactose intolerance got to the stage it is now, sigh) – but what this means for the readers is that there’s recipes throughout the book, most of which make you want to try them instantly – even if it isn’t summer where you are.

Other than recipes there’s also blog posts and chats thrown in, always welcome editions to any book. Stewart is still written with his accent and Livia Day still manages to pull it off fantastically, and there’s also still a bit of a love triangle that doesn’t annoy me – I’m just very certain for who I’m cheering for. To which point I want to shake Tabitha and ask WHAT ARE YOU DOING at a certain point in the book.

These are the books that you read in an afternoon, unable to put down. This is purely character-driven, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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