This month, I read the first entry in the Cookbook Nook Mystery Series by Daryl Wood Gerber (aka Avery Aames), titled Final Sentence. This is yet another entry in my (mostly) monthly series about the most popular and recommended Cozy Mystery series.
Marketing expert Jenna Hart has returned to her home town of Crystal Cove, a small coastal town in California known for both water sports like skiing and surfing as well as crafting stores for things like knitting, sewing, and embroidery, after the death of her husband left her with little desire to remain in San Francisco at her advertising job. Still, she’s going to be keeping her business skills busy enough, as she’s helping her Aunt Vera open a culinary themed bookshop and cafe.
To that end, she’s invited her old college roommate, celebrity chef Desiree Devine, to do a cookbook signing at the cafe’s grand opening. Unfortunately, Desiree brings more than just her autographing hand to the opening – she brings drama as well, in the form of her dodgy boyfriend/director, her jealous sister, and her self-absorbed masseur. Oh, and a potential motive for Jenna herself to take a sudden dislike Desiree, as the aforementioned jealous sister lets slip that Jenna’s deceased husband may or may not have had an affair with Desiree at some point.
With all that baggage, it’s hardly any surprise when Desiree turns up dead, concealed in a sand mermaid sculpture on the beach. Naturally, Jenna is both shocked and pained when she finds the body – though hurt by the thought that her friend may have had an affair with her husband, she never would have hurt her, and hadn’t even had a chance to clear the air on whether or not such an affair had even occurred yet. But the – a motive made more believable when the local police chief’s own mother indicates she saw Jenna and Desiree speaking on the very beach the corpse was found on.
Fortunately, Jenna has people in her corner as well. Her Aunt Vera, her father – a former FBI analyst – and even the local police chief, who was something of a protege of her father’s, all seem less than convinced that Jenna committed the crime. Still, that doesn’t make Jenna feel any more secure, and it isn’t long before she’s investigating herself – not only to find out who killer her friend, but also to see if her friend had had an affair with her husband.
Final Sentence may not exactly break the mold for modern Cozies, but it certainly does a good job of making a nice, pleasant setting for the characters to live in. At the same time, it gives enough attention to the murder and introduces new clues enough to keep the investigation element engaging. If you’re interested in a culinary-themed Cozy with a coastal setting and a decent mystery, this might be just what you’re looking for.
If you’d like to see other entries about some of the most recommended Cozy Mystery authors, be sure to check out the Most Popular and Recommended Cozy Mystery Series page on my site.
PS: For those who love recipes, this one does include a number of them at the end – deserts, in this case!