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Things heat up for bookstore owner Jenna Hart in the latest Cookbook Nook mystery from the Agatha Award-winning author of Fudging the Books.
As the Wild West Extravaganza rides into Crystal Cove, California, Cookbook Nook store owner Jenna Hart is ready to indulge her appetite for grilled and barbecued treats and maybe even try the Texas skip. But when the body of one of her father’s neighbors is found the next morning smoldering in a bonfire, the rodeo revelry is extinguished.
Sylvia Gump had acquired plenty of enemies with her practice of illegally encroaching on her neighbors’ properties—including Jenna’s dad, who was off fishing by himself and has no alibi for the murder. Now it’s up to Cary Hart’s dutiful daughter to clear his name before the real killer turns up the heat and rakes someone else over the coals...
Jenna Hart is preparing her bookstore, Cookbook Nook, for the Wild West festival that is coming to town by featuring several barbecue-related cookbooks. Jenna and the whole town of Crystal Cove, California are looking forward to the good food and good fun of the event, and Jenna is also hoping sales of her grilling and barbecue cookbooks will help add to her store’s bottom line. The only thing putting a damper on her excitement is a dispute between her father and other neighbors with the outspoken Sylvia Gump over her use of her neighbors’ properties without their permission. However, things get worse when Sylvia is murdered and her body is left smoldering on a bonfire. Sylvia made so many people angry with the property issue, there are many suspects. Unfortunately, Jenna’s father Cary is among them and doesn’t have an alibi, but Jenna knows her father didn’t do it, so it’s up to her to prove her father’s innocence.
This is an enjoyable series with books that are nice, light reads for those who enjoy a good cozy mystery. Jenna is smart and funny and is a likeable main character. A flaw in some cozies is that it often makes no sense for the main character to be involved in an investigation that should be handled by the police. However, in this case, since one of the main suspects is Jenna’s dad, it makes sense that she would be invested in the case. This is especially true since the investigating officer, her dad’s protégé Cinnamon doesn’t seem up for the job. Cinnamon has never been my favorite character in this series, and even though she cares about Cary and really doesn’t believe him capable of murder, she seems to single-minded and rigid to find the true killer, in this book and in prior installments in the series. Jenna’s dad is lucky to have her on his side! In spite of the direction Cinnamon’s investigation appears to be headed, there are many other viable suspects. Sylvia gave so many people a reason to dislike her, the reader is kept guessing as to who the real killer is as Jenna searches for evidence to clear her dad’s name.
As with most of my favorite cozy series, there is a bit of romance mixed in with the detecting, and that part is well-done in this book. Things have been moving slow for Jenna and her love interest, Rhett, but there is an interesting twist in this book that should help things progress as the series continues. I enjoyed the book and look forward to more by Daryl Wood Gerber.