Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Book Review: Death of a Crabby Cook by Penny Pike (Food Festival Mystery #1)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters in a twisting, fast moving plot
Cons: A couple of editing errors that are easy to overlook.
The Bottom Line:
Line up for this fun
New mystery series that
Cooks up a winner

Nothing to Make You Crabby Here

It pays to pay attention to pen names.  That’s how I learned that Penny Pike is a pen name for Penny Warner (not that they try to hide it too much since it’s right in her biography in the back of the book).  Since I’ve enjoyed the books of Penny’s I’ve read, I knew I had to read Death of a Crabby Cook, the first in this new Food Festival Mystery series.  It has all the ingredients of a winning debut.

Darcy Burnett has lost her job as a food critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, but while she tries to figure out what to do next, she gets a job helping her aunt Abby Warner at Abby’s food truck.  Abby is famous for her comfort foods, and she has a permanent spot in one of the most sought after locations in San Francisco.

On Darcy’s first day helping, she witnesses a fight between Abby and Oliver, the owner of a restaurant across the street from where Abby and several others park.  Oliver is convinced the food trucks are what is driving his restaurant out of business even though the food and service at the restaurant have declined.  The fight ends with Abby threatening Oliver with a knife.  Later that night, the police show up to question Abby.  Why?  Oliver has been murdered.  Darcy knows that Abby couldn’t have done it.  But can she use her reporter’s nose to find the killer?

This is a fast moving book from start to finish.  There were clues, red herrings, and events happening constantly, and they kept me confused until the very end.  And yet, when everything did come together, it all made perfect sense.

The characters were absolutely wonderful.  Darcy is a strong heroine who sometimes acts before she thinks, but most of the time does try to be careful in her investigation.  Aunt Abby is lots of fun; but what am I going to say about someone who is a bigger DisNerd than me?  There is a strong love interest, and I like how their relationship is progressing already.  The detective assigned to the case was a good guy, and I actually felt sorry for him when Darcy attacked him for not doing his job.  The truth is, he was doing the best he could with the evidence he was gathering.

My only complaint involves some things that slipped by editing.  A couple of times, Darcy refers to her cousin as her nephew in the first person narration.  Additionally, once she repeats herself to Detective Shelton, who acts like he wasn’t just told that same information 10 pages before.  I had so much fun in the book overall, that both of those were easy things to overlook.

Since this is a culinary mystery, we get three recipes from three different food trucks.  The Crab Pot Pie doesn't interest me since I don't like seafood, however, the cream puff sounds delicious.  There's also a drink for the coffee truck here.

On the whole, this book proved to be a wonderful debut, and I can’t wait to see where Darcy and this cast of characters go next.  If you are hungry for fun new series to follow, sink your teeth into Death of a Crabby Cook.