Murder in the Cookbook Nook

Book Retreat Mysteries #7

By Ellery Adams

ISBN 9781496729460

Author Webiste: elleryadamsmysteries(.)com

Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie


The witty new story from the bestselling author of The Secret Book & Scone Society series is perfect for bibliophiles who love a Bookish Cook-Off with a little murder on the side…

Six chefs are preparing to compete in an outdoor tent at Storyton Hall in Virginia for prizes that will boost their careers—but is there someone who can’t stand the heat? It looks that way when one of the contestants is found dead in a pantry packed with two centuries’ worth of cookbooks, among other treasures and rarities.

Could there be a connection to other recent events in town, like tampering with the costume of a local mascot? Jane isn’t sure, but after someone serves a second course of murder, the kitchen must be closed and the killer must be found. (Goodreads)


It takes an amazing imagination to design the incredible Storyton Hall with the details of every area covered and the excellent characterizations of Jane, her family, Fins, family, friends. Even Storyton Village is delightfully pictured for the reader. I am impressed with the author’s design of the series and with this novel and latest mystery.

It must be exhilarating for Jane and her staff to welcome every special group that arrives at Storyton Hall! It is early summer, and we are welcoming the star of Posh Palate with Mia Mallett, a gourmet cookoff reality show between six top celebrity chefs. The chefs, director, and crew have already arrived. Mia, international trendsetter, influencer, and 27-year-old billionaire is a gracious, friendly young woman who gifted Storyton’s head chef, Mrs. Hubbard, with a breathtaking surprise. Thankfully, the fire that began earlier in the day, near the huge tent where much of the filming will be done, did not damage anything. It has been determined that the electrical fire was an act of arson, hopefully a foolish prank. The staff will be on high alert to make sure nothing else occurs.

Storyton Hall is an amazing destination for the person who loves to read, with events and retreats held throughout the year for booklovers of all kinds. It is the kind of place I would love to visit, nestled in the mountains of Virginia like another world. It was lovingly brought from Europe, piece by piece, and reconstructed in this lovely location. The filming of the cookoff will open Storyton Hall and nearby Storyton Village up to millions of viewers with the potential of many new tourists.

Filming the first challenge goes off without a hitch. Almost. Chef Pierce, unhappy with the judges’ determination, showed everyone what a high-maintenance jerk he could be by damaging the winning chef’s prize. He had been rude, harassed one of Storyton’s kitchen chefs, and annoyed almost everyone. A couple of the chefs were wonderful guests, folks who were personable and complimentary of everything. Chef Pierce is a top-rated chef, one of the reasons he was invited to participate. The other reason he was invited, however, is to help create the drama that makes for a good show.

Early the next morning, Jane received a call from a kitchen staff member with an emergency. She dashed to the Hall to find one of their worst nightmares. Chef Pierce was dead in Mrs. Hubbard’s peaceful sanctuary, the cookbook nook, with two family heirloom serving containers shattered around him. At first it wasn’t clear, but within a couple hours they knew for sure. He had been murdered, and once again, there was a murderer staying at Storyton Hall.

The Fins have been part of Storyton for many years. They have special backgrounds and training, and are prepared to protect Jane, her great-aunt and uncle, and her sons. They also oversee the security needs of the Hall undercover of being head of the library, recreation, chauffeurs and cars, and the butler. Three of the four men were like surrogate fathers to Jane when she grew up, having lost her parents at a young age. One oversees the martial arts training she and her twin sons receive. The Fins, Jane and her family, and her friends are defined to perfection. They are endearing and invaluable. 

Plot twists affect so many things in this complex mystery! As if a fire and a murder are not enough, unusual things continue to occur. One incident cannot occur without being intertwined with several others. The sheriff spends many hours at the Hall and, without the help of the Fins and Jane, would have a much more challenging job this time. They have an excellent working relationship, so they do not have the head-butting that often happens in cozy mysteries. I enjoy the interaction between them, as well as between Jane’s twins, the staff, and the chefs. I enjoyed a special guest of one of the chefs who became fast friends with Jane. Discovery of the bad guy(s) was not easy to determine, as there were unforeseen layers to each situation. I was actually shocked at part of the solution, while expecting part of it. All the loose ends were tied up, and I am so looking forward to the next visit! I highly recommend this, and the rest of the series!