Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Book Review: Death of a Bad Apple by Penny Pike (Food Festival Mysteries #3)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Characters we love in a strong mystery
Cons: None worth dwelling on
The Bottom Line:
An apple a day
Does not keep murder away
Another great read

Who is Poisoning the Apple Festival Atmosphere?

Okay, I have a confession to make.  I’m not actually a fan of apples.  I love them in pies and tarts and apple sauce and apple butter, but straight off the tree?  You can have them.  Still, I didn’t hesitate to start reading Death of A Bad Apple because I’ve loved the previous two books in the Food Festival Mystery series so much.

The series centers on Darcy Burnett who is helping her aunt Abby run a food truck while researching recipes for a new cookbook.  The first two books have been set in San Francisco, but this book moves the action to the Apple Festival held in Apple Valley, a couple of hours north of San Francisco.  Fans of the series don’t need to worry, all their favorite characters are still along for the ride.

In fact, shades of trouble appear before Darcy, Abby, and the others even arrive.  It seems that a GMO company is trying to set up a genetically modified apple operation in the area, and the local farmers are resisting.  Then there are the suspicious fires that have increased the tension factor in the small community.

Darcy, Abby, and the rest are staying with Abby’s friend Honey at her Enchanted Apple Bed and Breakfast, and their first night there shows the tension brewing just below the surface.  Honey gets into a fight with another of her guests who appears to be defending the GMO foods, but that fight is interrupted by a fire at the barn down the road.  In the morning, a guest at the inn is murdered and Honey is the prime suspect.  Can Darcy clear Honey before they have to return to San Francisco?

Now if you are concerned that this book will be nothing but a lecture about GMO vs. regular food, let me put your mind at ease right away.  While this is certainly an underlying theme (and it’s fairly easy to see how the authors feels about it, not that I disagree with her), the issue never takes over the book.  Instead, it provides a wonderful backdrop to the mystery and mayhem we pick up cozy mysteries to read.  In fact, I felt it added a little depth to this book.

There is plenty of mystery and mayhem to be had.  In fact, I was still unclear how everything was going to fit together very late in the book.  By the time that Darcy fits all the pieces together, it all makes perfect sense.  The ending could have been a tad stronger, but that’s a personal preference on my part, and a minor issue overall.

For the third time in a row, I have to talk about how much I love these characters because I really, truly do.  They are fun and fully developed, and once again, we get to see their relationships grow over the course of this book.  The new characters are just as strong and that helps keep us guessing as to who the killer might be.

Since this book is set at an apple festival, the three recipes we get at the end are apple based.  There’s Aunt Abby’s Salted Caramel-Apple Tarts and Jake’s Caramel-Apple Dream Puffs.  Both sound delicious to me.  The only one that doesn’t appeal to me is the Caramel-Apple Cinnamon Latte, but then again, I don’t like coffee even more than I don’t like raw apples.  Those who enjoy both will probably love that recipe, too.

If you have yet to go to a food festival with Darcy, you really need to fix that.  Death of A Bad Apple is a great way to do just that.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book in exchange for me honest review.


Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy of this book to give away.  Because it is a physical book, the contest is limited to residence of the US.

Just leave me a comment with your e-mail address so I can get in touch with you if you win.  I will pick the winner next Tuesday, January 12th, so please leave your comment before 12:01AM Pacific Time on 1/11.  You will have until midnight on 1/17 to get back to me, or I will choose a new winner on 1/18.


  1. I haven't tried this series.... but it sounds like I should. :)
    afarage (at) earthlink.net

  2. I enjoyed reading the first in the series, and hope to get to the next ones soon! Darn TBR pile! :) kelley.dworaczyk(at)gmail.com

  3. Happy New Year Mark! Thank you for the intro to this new-to-me author and series. I have some catching up to do!

  4. I just realized that I haven't read the second book yet. Thanks for the chance to win this one.
    momzillasteel at gmail dot com

  5. I really enjoy this series so I am happy that the new one is just as good.

    gibsonk ay hiwaay dot net

  6. I think it's interesting they've been able to pluck something so controversial and make it a good backdrop for the mystery! And heck, anything salted caramel sounds great! Thanks!

  7. An apple mystery? What fun.
    libbydodd at comcast dot net

  8. Great review. Looks like a great cozy mystery.

    xzjh04@ gmail.com

  9. I am going to like this series! prentissg@gmail.com

  10. I haven't read any of this series, but I loved Penny's party planner series. stclairck@gmail.com

  11. I signed up for the Cozy Challenge this year and this sounds like it would be a great addition to my list. Thanks for a chance to win a copy. elainehroberson@gmail.com

  12. Ha, ha, I'm just the opposite, Mark. I take my apples raw and don't care for cooked ones, or apple sauce/butter.

  13. Sounds like a great book to me, too! My birthday is Tuesday so maybe that will be lucky for me. Thanks. Judy Mullen

  14. This book sounds so fun! amyscookingadventures (at) gmail (dot) com

  15. This sounds like a fun series. wendyklik1517@gmail.com

  16. I love cozies with recipes!! I'd like this series I think!

  17. I love foodie mysteries and this series sounds like good fun. I'll keep an eye out for it. ;-)

  18. I am more a raw apple than cooked but I can take them either way. This sounds like a fun mystery series. :)

  19. Apples, I always think they get a bad rap as the fruit that did Eve (and Adam..) in! Raw apples in a crunchy spicy peanutty asian slaw work pretty well - although I have to say I haven't read enough cozies to know if I like em raw, or cooked! :) Sounds like I should read more of them.

  20. Hi Mark, I just wanted to thank you as I was the winner of this raffle. You can see my book review and recipe at http://adayinthelifeonthefarm.blogspot.com/2016/03/apple-fritters-inspired-by-death-of-bad.html