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by Ellery Adams
Kensington Books , April 2021
336 pages
ISBN: 1496729463

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Virginia resort Storyton Hall is hosting A Bookish Cook-Off with six chefs competing for fame and fortune over a few days for the TV show, Posh Palate with Mia Mallett. A fire on the resort's property distracts resort manager Jane Steward as she prepares to welcome Mia. Fire Chief Aronco determines the fire is arson, and Jane’s security team wonders who wants to sabotage the cookoff event.

Chef Saffron wins the first cooking challenge, and Chef Pierce intentionally damages her prize as he leaves the tent. At dinner that evening, Chef Pierce appears a little tipsy and physically assaults a serving girl. Mrs. Hubbard orders him to get out, and later, Mia agrees to dismiss him from the competition the following day.

Unfortunately, when an early morning baker arrives, he finds Chef Pierce’s body in Mrs. Hubbard’s cookbook nook. Police determine that the cause of death is murder.

As police check out the backgrounds of TV show personnel, suspects emerge. Then, as one challenge ends, a gas grill explodes.

Mia consults with the show sponsor, Cook's Pride, and they plan to continue and complete the program. Motives for the fire, the explosion, and the murder range from corporate abuse of offshore slave labor, a strained daughter-father relationship, and a visiting writer with a potential conflict.

Adams writes a complex mystery involving various new characters along with the well-developed and familiar inhabitants of the Storyton community. A consummate storyteller, Adams keeps readers flipping through the pages to uncover connections, dig out clues and speculate about the culprit’s motive and identity. The pace feels relentless but Adams includes vignettes featuring family characters, which lightens the story’s tone. In short, MURDER IN THE COOKBOOK NOOK is a riveting addition to Adams’ Book Retreat Mystery series.

§ Ruth Castleberry has worked as an investigator for Pinkerton's, a city desk assistant on the Charlotte News, free-lance writer, marketing/business strategy consultant, competitive intelligence practitioner and digital marketing consultant.

Reviewed by Ruth Castleberry, March 2021

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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