Brought to you by OBS reviewer Daniele
Jenna Hart moved back to Crystal Cove, California, to recapture her joie de vivre and to help her aunt Vera run the local culinary bookshop and café. But it’s hard to follow a simple recipe for relaxation when murder gets thrown in the mix …
The Cookbook Nook is set to host the town’s upcoming Grill Fest, a tasty tradition which pits local amateur chefs against one another to concoct the most delicious dishes. This year’s challenge: grilled cheese. But with competing chefs bearing grudges from past years, more mouths are running off than savoring the fare.
The expression “too many cooks” proves all too true when the eight-time champ is found murdered in the alley behind the café. Soon a local diner owner (and Jenna’s “second mother”) is suspected of bumping off the competition, and Jenna has to douse the flames before the wrong person gets burned….(Goodreads)
This second installment in The Cookbook Nook series takes place about a month after the conclusion of the first mystery. Jenna is in her late twenties, a former advertising executive, part time painter and sculptor, and widow. She and Aunt Vera, who does tarot card readings between retail customers, run the local cookbook and culinary mystery store and have agreed to host their tourist town’s annual Grill Fest. Everything goes smoothly with the grilled cheese competition until the reigning cook-off champion, Natalie, is found dead behind the shop. And Jenna’s employee’s mother, Lola, is the number one suspect since she and the deceased had a very public argument a few days before the competition. However, there are plenty of other suspects to choose from: the deceased’s daughters and son-in-law, her business manager, and his wife (who always manages to come in second place behind Natalie). Jenna feels compelled to find the answers out of love for Lola and because this is the second murder that has been associated with her store. There is also a secondary mystery regarding Jenna’s late husband, David, that helps plump up the story.
I found this book to generally be far superior to Weber’s first book in the series. Jenna has grown more comfortable being back in her home town and is a more confident, thoughtful sleuth this time around. Many of the issues that drove me crazy in the Final Sentence, such as too many cookbook plugs that seemed like filler and rude behavior, snap judgments, and hasty accusations from Jenna, have been somewhat resolved. There are, however, still too many moments of “in my other life” where Jenna waxes on about her former career’s ad campaigns that I found added nothing to the story. The thread of Lola being the prime suspect is dropped rather quickly, but I found it to be underdeveloped. A scene involving Cinnamon, the police chief, relieving Lola of suspicion would have made the story more complete. There are enough twists in the plot to keep it interesting, and most readers will probably not figure out whodunit and why very early in the book. The subplot concerning David satisfactorily wraps up that chapter of Jenna’s life, leaving room for future romance development. I can only hope there will be no love triangles, which seem to be all the rage in cozy mysteries lately, in Jenna’s future.
There are plenty of supporting characters that could and should be allowed to develop as the series progresses. I still feel there is room for improvement where filler is concerned and how it affects the flow of the writing, but there is a lot of potential here for a long running, entertaining cozy series. I would recommend Inherit the Word to lovers of cookbooks and culinary mysteries and to fans of the author’s other series that she writes under the pseudonym of Avery Aames.
Now I feel the need to go make a grilled cheese sandwich.
*A print copy of this book was supplied to OBS by the publisher in exchange for an honest review