Knife Skills for Beginners
January 15, 2024

Book Review

Knife Skills for Beginners

reviewed by Carolyn Scott


British celebrity Chef Orlando Murrin (a winner of Masterchef, food writer and podcaster for the BBC) has written a light and entertaining cozy mystery set in a Belgravia cooking school.

It all starts with Paul Delamare’s, old friend and fellow Chef Christian breaking his arm. Paul and Christian both trained as Chefs together with Christian going on to become a celebrity chef. However, when his chain of up market restaurants went into liquidation, he was offered a job teaching at Chester Square Cooking School, including accommodation in a flat behind the building. Although located in Belgravia in a magnificent old building, the school itself is run down and on its last legs financially, which is why Christian is begging Paul to step in and take his place teaching a week-long residential cooking course covering basic techniques.

Ten years previously, Paul met and married wealthy businessman Marcus Berens, moving into his small house in Belgravia and since then has worked freelance, including writing a monthly recipe and food styling section for Escape magazine. However, after Marcus died a few months ago, Paul has rarely left the house or seen anyone, except his friend Julie, Escape’s food editor. He decides the teaching job might be just what he needs to get out of the house and he finds that he is enjoying it, at least up to the point where a murder occurs and he and the students all become suspects.

This debut cozy mystery is quite a fun read, however I did feel that the characters needed more development. Paul is quite well fleshed out, but could do to grow further into a more solid personality. Rose, the owner of the cooking school, Rose, is quite bland and forgettable and the students on the course were flat and stereotypical, particularly the women making it difficult to remember who was who. Marcus’ son Jonny, who is waging a personal crusade against Paul, at first sparked some interest and could have been included more to cause conflict with Paul to liven up the plot. Julie is also a great character I would also have liked to see more personal interaction between her and Paul.

With Orlando Murrin being a Chef himself, the setting of a cooking school for this mystery is an inspired choice and I anticipated we would be treated to descriptions of wonderful food and recipes. However, perhaps because the cookery course was for beginners, the cooking was all very basic and not very exciting. Some recipes found by Paul in Christian’s personal notebook are included – one for a potato dish, strangely based on frozen hash browns, and one for rocky road, both uninspiring and disappointing choices. A recipe for a cake based on a traditional Cornish tea time treat called ‘Thunder and Lightning’ did however sound more interesting and innovative. Overall, a light, enjoyable read with the potential to go on to become a fun cosy mystery series, with stronger character development and inclusion of some delicious recipes.

With thanks to Random House via Netgalley for a copy to read.

Knife Skills for Beginners is available at:

More Cozy Mysteries


Cozy Mystery Features