Monday, August 26, 2013

Book Review: Final Sentence by Daryl Wood Gerber (Cookbook Nook Mysteries #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Plenty of twists and turns and likeable main characters
Cons: Some timing issues and a story element I didn’t quite buy
The Bottom Line:
Series starts cooking
With fun plot, great characters
Cozy fans rejoice

Cookbooks are Murder, Too

Just when you think they can’t find any new culinary theme for a cozy mystery series, along comes Final Sentence.  This is the first in the Cookbook Nook Mysteries, which is set in a cookbook store with an attached café.  Yep, we’re combining two popular cozy themes, book and food.  The result was pleasing to my mystery palette.

Jenna Hart needs a change of pace, so she is leaving behind a successful advertising career in San Francisco to move home to Crystal Cove, on the central California coast.  She is helping her aunt Vera open up a bookstore focusing on cookbooks.  For their grand opening, they’ve got Desiree, Jenna’s college roommate and a popular host of a Food Network show.

Desiree is very high maintenance and pushy, usually getting her own way.  But Jenna doesn’t expect to discover Desiree murdered on the beach the morning after Desiree arrives in town.  With the local busy body ready to proclaim Jenna guilty to anyone who will listen, Jenna decides to find the killer herself to clear her name.  But who did Desiree irritate enough to kill her?

The first couple of chapters were establishing characters and setting.  They were certainly needed, but at the end of the second chapter, the first twist appeared, and the plot was off and running after that.  It never really slowed with plenty of more surprises before reaching a logical and suspenseful conclusion.

The main characters were appealing as well.  I liked them and enjoyed spending time with them.  There is a large cast, so they could be better developed, but I certainly look forward to getting to know them better as the series progresses.  The suspects were strong as well, which helped make me care about the outcome.

The book does have a few weaknesses.  Combined, they bothered me, but by themselves they wouldn’t have been that bad.  First, Jenna learns some family history in this book that is part of the events of the story.  I just found it hard to believe she didn’t already know this.  After all, Crystal Cove is supposed to be a small town.  I can’t believe this never came up while she was growing up.

Second, there are a couple of minor timing issues with the story.  We’re talking about clues that don’t quite seem to fit the timeline as has been explained to us before but everyone in the story takes it at face value.  The timing wasn't important to the plot, and someone who doesn’t obsess over time won’t even notice.  (And if I can ever figure out why time matters so much to me in a story, I’ll be happy.)

Finally, there’s Jenna’s dad who seems to be the weakest of the main characters.  I really hope he gets more development and a better part in the cast in future books.

As is usual in culinary themed books, there are a few recipes in the back to try.  We get 5, and they are mostly mouth watering cookie recipes.

And the book drops titles of both other culinary mysteries as well as cookbooks.  While I’m not familiar with the later, I had fun looking for other mysteries I’ve read or at least heard of before.

Despite the weaknesses I mentioned, I really did enjoy the book.  I’m looking forward to seeing what Jenna and cooks up next for Cookbook store.  Those looking for a new series will enjoy Final Sentence.

As a final note, for those who don’t know, Daryl Wood Gerber is the real name of author Avery Ames.  Under that name, she writes the Cheeseshop Mysteries.  Fans of that series will want to look for an Easter Egg on the cover of this novel.

Enjoy this book?  You'll want to read the rest of the Cookbook Nook Mysteries in order.

No comments:

Post a Comment