Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Good mystery, delightful characters
Cons: Jenna’s relationship with Cinnamon bothers me
The Bottom Line:
Celebrate book clubs
While solving puzzling murder
Fun cozy story
Jenna Must Sift Through the Suspects to Find a Killer
One thing I enjoy about Daryl Wood Gerber’s Cookbook Nook Mysteries are the various themes she works into the books. It seems that each week, her fictional town of Crystal Cove on the California coast is celebrating something different, and Jenna Hart, part owner of the Cookbook Nook, is planning fun activities and carrying fun items to celebrate. And Daryl’s pick a wonderful theme for Sifting Through the Clues.
Spring has sprung in Crystal Cove, and the town is celebrating all things book club. Clubs from neighboring towns have come to advertise their clubs and Jenna is letting the Cookbook Nook be used to host some of the book discussions happening during the week. But she’s most excited about the progressive dinner that her own book club, the Mystery Mavens, is planning for Saturday night. However, the night ends in tragedy when they arrive at their last stop and find their final hostess, Ivy Beale, dead on her kitchen floor. Ivy had a reputation of knowing everyone’s secrets, and Jenna had seen her clashing with several people in town recently. Was that what got her killed?
Ivy owned the Dreamcatcher store, a store devoted to healing stones and crystals. While I don’t believe in that stuff myself, I actually found that this element provided some intriguing additions to the mystery. Of course, there are the usual suspects with various motives for Jenna to work her way through before she reaches the end. The final confrontation is very fun, and the clues lead to a completely logical final killer.
Over the course of the series, we’ve met quite a few of Jenna’s friends, and they are all present and accounted for. If, like me, you have a hard time keeping track of everyone and how they all relate, you’ll love the character guide in the front. Now, I’m not saying that the characters aren’t well developed; it’s just that there are so many of them that it is hard to keep track. Even with the large cast, we get a little update from everyone, and I always enjoy checking in with the gang.
The focus of the book is on the investigation, and that brings us to the suspects. I felt these characters, most of whom were introduced here, were good as well. I definitely felt that any of them could have done it at some point before Jenna started focusing her attention on the real killer.
My only real issue with the book is Jenna’s relationship with Cinnamon Pritchett, the chief of police. The two are supposed to be good friends, but Cinnamon is always sniping at Jenna. I get that she doesn’t want Jenna in danger from the killer or ruining the investigation, but still, I have a hard time buying their friendship since we don’t really see any evidence of it in any of the books.
Fans of Daryl’s other series will find some fun Easter eggs hidden in this book. I love it when I spot an in-joke or reference.
The recipes at the end are divided into two categories, sweet and savory. We get four sweet recipes, including gluten-free versions of most of them, and ten savory recipes, most of which are various tea sandwiches. Everything sounds yummy.
Any reader will enjoy the theme of Sifting Through the Clues. This book will especially appeal to cozy lovers who want to get lost in a town of delightful residents as they work out a good puzzle.
Looking for more? Here are the rest of the Cookbook Nook Mysteries in order.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.
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