Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters; fun mystery
Cons: Data dump in the first chapter
The Bottom Line:
Wedding morning death
Introduces new series
With great characters
First Big Event Ends in Murder
One reason I love cozy mysteries is the fact that so many are series. Each book is like visiting old friends again. One reason the recent cuts at one publisher in their cozy line has been so hard is all the friends I won’t get to visit any more. And yet, it encourages me to see so many authors I enjoy starting new series. Daryl Wood Gerber has launched one such series with A Deadly Éclair, and it is off to a promising start.
This series debut takes us to Napa County were Mimi Rousseau has opened a French bistro and hotel. After much renovation on both buildings, things are beginning to pick up. She is hoping to host events, and her first one is a big one. Angelica Edmonton, host of a TV talk show, has chosen to have her wedding on the grounds. It’s actually not that much of a surprise since Angelica grew up in this part of Napa County and her uncle, Bryan Baker, is Mimi’s mentor and investor.
The night before the wedding, the bistro is closed for a private dinner for Angelica and her out of town guests. While busy playing hostess, Mimi overhears things that show here there is plenty of tension among the various family members. However, Mimi doesn’t expect Angelica to come to her door the next morning upset about something. That something proves to be a dead body. What is going on?
Yes, I was initially surprised when I realized this new series with a French bistro theme was being set in an area known for its wine. This may be the first cozy series set up there I’m aware of that didn’t feature wine as the hook. Don’t get me wrong, wine and the wine industry is still definitely a part. Heck, Mimi’s mom owns a very small winery. But, as a non-drinker who did grow up in Sonoma County (the county next door), I appreciated this change of focus. The descriptions of the French food certainly had my mouth watering.
Those who have read either of Daryl’s previous series (The Cookbook Nook Mysteries under her own name and The Cheese Shop Mysteries as Avery Aames) know that she creates strong characters with strong ties to each other. I love that about her books, and this new series is no exception. Mimi is a great main character, and we can already feel the bonds she shares with the rest of the main cast. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing those relationships grow as the series progresses.
Now this isn’t to say that the suspects are weak characters. They are just as strong and help keep us guessing until the end of this strong mystery. There are plenty of motives and secrets that Mimi has to uncover before she figures out who the killer is. I did feel the first chapter was a bit of a data dump, but once we moved past that, the pace was steady. The climax was great and logical based on what Mimi had already uncovered.
And yes, we get several delicious sounding recipes. By my count, there are ten, ranging from Eggs Benedict and Onion Soup Gratinee to a French Raspberry Cream Tart. You can up the recipe count if you include the regular and glutton free versions we get for three of recipes.
Fans of Daryl Wood Gerber can rejoice. A Deadly Éclair introduces us to another wonderful cast of characters I’m looking forward to visiting again soon.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.