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The Calamity Café

(Down South Café Mystery #1)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  899 ratings  ·  184 reviews
First in a new cozy mystery series featuring Southern cooking that is to die for.

Aspiring chef and small-town Virginia native Amy Flowers is ready to open her own café offering old-fashioned Southern food. But her dream may go up in smoke when someone kills the competition...

Tired of waiting tables at Lou’s Joint, Amy Flowers doesn’t just quit—she offers to buy the place f
Paperback, 283 pages
Published June 7th 2016 by NAL
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  899 ratings  ·  184 reviews

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Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*
The premise is intriguing and there are colorful characters to spice up the story, but ultimately experience comes across flat. Most of the book focused on the nitty gritty details and dreams of the MC to renovate a cafe - while cooking themes are intriguing, reading about having sausage biscuits every day gets old when it's repeated every chapter. There was too much focus on the construction, ideas and plans of laying out the building. Dare I say it went from flavorful to dense because of the w ...more
Diana • Book of Secrets
May 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Down South Café Mystery series is off to a fantastic start! The author is Gayle Leeson, who also writes cozies under the pen names Gayle Trent and Amanda Lee. It was one of her earlier books that got me hooked on the cozy mystery genre, so I was excited to give THE CALAMITY CAFÉ a read.

Amy Flowers is a budding chef with hopes of opening her own restaurant, but for now she's stuck waitressing for one of the meanest people in town. When Amy offers to buy the diner, her boss, Lou Lou, flat out
Chatting About
Gayle Leeson (aka Gayle Trent) debuts a cozy mystery set in Winter Garden, Virginia. A cast of appealing characters is led by a strong, independent lead female. Chocked full of heartwarming moments, and a fairly easy mystery that began many years before and picks back up in the present. Readers will enjoy this one.

Amy Flowers dream is to open her own cafe--the Down South Cafe. She'd like to buy an old rundown cafe from the grouchy owner, LouLou, but she refuses to sell. Her son, Pete, talks her
Jody McGrath
Sep 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is the first book in the new Down South Café Mystery series by Gayle Leeson.

Amy Flowers is sick and tired of her job as a waitress at Lou's Joint cafè. She was professionally trained as a chef and if tired of being belittled and bullies by her boss Lou Lou. She puts in her notice and offers to buy the place, her dream always having been to own her own cafè, but Lou Lou is determined not to sell. When Lou Lou's son calls her and asks her to meet him and his mom at the cafè to talk about a sa
Lisa Ks Book Reviews
Apr 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Author Gayle Leeson had me at page one!

I don’t know about others, but for me, ever so often a book comes along, and with the very first sentence I know I’m in for a wonderful read. THE CLAMITY CAFÉ is such a book. I was enjoying it so much, I was a little annoyed if my reading was interrupted.

I completely connected with lead character, Amy Flowers. I immediately felt like she was a friend. There are scene with her and several older citizens from town, where I smiled the entire time. All of the
Nov 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Southern hospitality, a spunky new sleuth named Amy Flowers who knows whats she wants and has to fight to over come the odds. The Calamity Cafe had me hooked from the very first page. The Oatmeal pie was a very interesting idea for a recipe. A promising new romance with a sexy police detective that will leave you wanting more with delicious food and a mystery that will leave you wondering who wanted Lou Lou, the cafe owner of Lou's Joint dead.

Amy Flowers is a waitress at Lou's Joint, a run down
May 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2016
Dollycas’s Thoughts

I started reading and just couldn’t stop. Love, love, LOVE this story!!

There is a lot of history at Lou’s Joint, it has been in the family forever. After working there just a short time Amy Flowers knows it is the perfect place for her restaurant but if Lou Lou won’t sell she is ready to start from scratch with a brand new building. Lou Lou does turn her down and it totally surprised when her son calls to say sure has changed her mind and wants to meet with Amy as soon as poss
Carrie Schmidt (Reading is My SuperPower)
Such a fun book! I was hooked from the first chapter and stayed that way through the entire story. A town full of engaging characters, a very compelling main character, a hint of romantic possibility with the hunky police detective (plus a bonus secondary romance behind the scenes!), food to make you drool, and a case that kept me guessing – all of these things put The Calamity Cafe at the top of my cozy mystery list!

The mystery in The Calamity Cafe is layered just enough to stay interesting but
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cozy-mystery
Amy Flowers returned to her hometown in Southwestern Virginia to care for her Nana. She took a job working at the local dive, Lou Lou's, and hates every minute of it. Lou Lou's favorite pastime is berating her employees, second only to standing over the food with a cigarette. Amy went to culinary school and has a dream of opening her own cafe. With a legacy from Nana untouched, Amy decides now is the time for action. When she offers to buy Lou Lou's, Lou Lou flat out refuses. Amy threatens to op ...more
Really 3.5 stars, but I rounded up.

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from Berkley and Netgalley. This title will be released tomorrow, June 7! All thoughts stated in this review are entirely my own.*

A sound start to a new series by a tried-and-true cozy author, The Calamity Cafe was both enjoyable and a fast-paced read.

I liked the MC, Amy. She was kind, and determined; however, she was a bit too ready to investigate for my taste. I felt she was making a huge d
Jessica Robbins
Mar 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-kindle
For complete review check out my blog at https://booksaplentybookreviews.blogs... ...more
Mark Baker
Jun 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, 2016
Amy Flowers is ready to follow her dream of opening her own cafe, and she’s hoping to do it by buying the local greasy spoon. However, Lou Lou, the owner, is not at all interested in selling. Amy stops by the cafe late one night and finds Lou Lou dead in her office. Naturally, Amy knows she has a good motive. Can she clear her name?

This is a fun start to a new series. The book focuses a bit on Amy starting her café early on, but the mystery begins to be the focus as we gear up toward the logical
Oct 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Amy Flowers is determined to open her own cafe rather than waiting tables at Lou's Joint. She turns in her notice, and offers to buy the cafe, but her boss refuses her offer. That day her boss's son Pete calls and says he's talked his mother into selling, and asks Amy to meet them at the cafe that evening.

Only when she arrives, Amy finds Lou Lou dead. When she hears she's on the suspect list she decides to investigate herself, to find the real killer.

I would give this book three and a half stars
May 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cozy, arc, e-books
Arriving at Lou's Joint to sign purchase papers Amy Flowers was surprised to find only one car present and the cafe dark. Where were the others? As she enters the darkened building she heard a noise. She entered Lou, Lou office to find Lou, lou slumped over in her chair bleeding from the head. She called 911 for help. This tale has several changes in direction that have you turning pages until the end. I did guess the killer early on but the book was excellent.

Disclosure: I received a free from
Dawn Frazier
Jun 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Loved loved loved this book! Can't wait until the next one!
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cozies
This is the first book in the down south cafe series. Amy Flowers works at Lou's Joint waiting tables and working for a horrible boss. She dreams of opening her own cafe. She offers to buy the cafe from her boss lout Lou. Lou Lou initially refuses to sell but seems to have a change of heart when she tells Amy to come see her. When Amy goes to meet here she finds Lou Lou dead in her office. She immediately becomes the prime suspect. Lou Lou son, Pete, wants to go into the trucking industry and te ...more
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cozy-mysteries
Sigh this book took me longer than I was expecting to finish and the ending dragged on and on. I was hoping that this cozy mystery series would be one that I liked to include in series that I binge but that is not the case. In the first book. Amy decides that she is finally going to begin her dream of owning a restaurant. She offers Lou Lou, the owner of the local cafe, a deal so that she can take over ownership and put her own spin on it. Unfortunately, Lou Lou absolutely does not want to sell ...more
If possible my actual rating would be 3.5 stars

In compliance with FTC guidelines-- I received this book free through Goodreads Giveaways. The content of this review is not influenced by that fact. The feelings and opinions expressed are solely mine.

This is my first time trying to read a "cozy mystery". I am always searching for the proverbial palate cleanser type books. I have found no trouble finding deep and emotionally demanding books but nobody could or should for the sake of their sanity r
May 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Calamity Cafe is the first book in the A Down South Cafe Mystery series.

I thought this was a great start to an interesting new series.

Amy Flowers has decided to ask LouLou Holman to sell her Lou's Joint, a cafe in Winter Garden, Va. When she finally gets the nerve up, LouLou flatly turns her down, but then later in the day Amy gets a call, reportedly from LouLou's son, Pete, saying that he has convinced his mom to sell and to meet them at the cafe after it closes. When Amy arrives for the me
Stacie Amelotte
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love this author’s writing style and have enjoyed her other cozy series written as Gayle Trent and Amanda Lee. I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. This is the beginning of a fantastic new series. This book has everything a cozy mystery needs, a strong character, a great support system of friends and family, intriguing mystery and a little bit of romance thrown in. Plus it’s an added bonus that recipes are included in the book. You will be entertained from page one with the way the author encirc ...more
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
I just discovered this series and read all four in the span of a week. I love books set in small towns with an interesting cast of characters, and this fits the bill. From Amy to Homer to Aunt Bess they all kept me laughing and intrigued. A must read for fans of small town cozies.
Andrew Kauffmann
Aug 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
So, let me apologize in advance for all of the mockery; that's just my way. And this book, while a nice enough read and all, just happened to contain a lot of elements that made me laugh (kind of at the book's expense, occasionally at my own).

3.5 stars

Well, thank God. I was concerned when I began this one that I would have to give my first negative review (I say mean things sometimes in my reviews, but generally with a sense of fondness). For me the beginning of this one was...rocky. Those short
Amanda McGill
Jul 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
A good start to a new series.

Amy Flowers is a waitress at a local restaurant. Finally one day she goes to quit and she tells her boss (the owner of the restaurant) that she wants to buy the place to open up her own cafe. The owner (Lou Lou) says no, however after some talk with her son, she is coming around. Lou Lou arranges a meeting with Amy, however when Amy shows up Lou Lou is dead in her office.

I liked Amy and the supporting cast of characters. I didn't love how much time was spent going b
Jun 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jeanie

The Calamity Cafe
Down South Cafe Mystery, Book #1
By Gayle Leeson
ISBN 9781101990780
Author’s website:
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie


First in a new cozy mystery series featuring Southern cooking that is to die for.

Aspiring chef and small-town Virginia native Amy Flowers is ready to open her own café offering old-fashioned Southern food. But her dream may go up in smoke when someone kills the competition…

Tired of waiting tab
Jul 29, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This takes place in Virginia. The story involves a diner, a secret, and murder. I didn't like the way the main character behaved. She seemed like a pushover. I didn't like the romance either. I thought the mystery was okay. There were a lot of suspects, but I figured out the culprit before the main character did.
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cozy
I thought this one might be better but I was wrong. It was predictable and the writing got old quickly which is saying something because cozy mysteries are formulaic to begin with.
Mar 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Add half star for recipes at the end!
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this cozy mystery and looking forward to more from Gayle Leeson. It has all the suspense of a good mystery, "down-home" cooking, humor and romance. Recipes included at the end of the book, and more info on the author's other books, that sound as good as this one.

From Amazon:
First in a new cozy mystery series featuring Southern cooking that is to die for.

Aspiring chef and small-town Virginia native Amy Flowers is ready to open her own café offering old-fashioned Southern food
Aug 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cozy-mystery
This was a great start to a series. There was plenty of action and it was interesting how they ending turned out. I like all the main characters. Definitely looking forward to reading the 2nd book in this series. Gayle is a great author who keeps one on their toes with the interaction of the people. A good read on the small type of town community.
Jun 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Southern cozy mystery fans, boy do I have an entertaining new series for you to add to your reading list!

Welcome to Winter Garden, Virginia!

The Calamity Cafe is an entertaining whodunit story with a southern twist! Author Gayle Leeson weaves an intriguing southern cozy murder mystery tale told in the first person narrative by Amy Flowers, who immediately draws the reader into her story when she finds herself a suspect in the murder of her mean boss, Lou Lou Holman, after finding her dead in the
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Gayle Leeson is a pseudonym for Gayle Trent. I also write as Amanda Lee. As Gayle Trent, I write the Daphne Martin Cake Mystery series and the Myrtle Crumb Mystery series. As Amanda Lee, I write the Embroidery Mystery series.

The cake decorating series features a heroine who is starting her life over in Southwest Virginia after a nasty divorce. The heroine, Daphne, has returned to her hometown of B

Other books in the series

Down South Café Mystery (5 books)
  • Silence of the Jams (Down South Café Mystery #2)
  • Honey-Baked Homicide (Down South Café Mystery #3)
  • Apples and Alibis (A Down South Cafe Mystery Book Book 4)
  • Fruit Baskets and Holiday Caskets (A Down South Cafe Mystery, #5)

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