Sunday, August 22, 2021

Review: Murder in the Cookbook Nook by Ellery Adams

by Ellery Adams
Release Date: April 27, 2021
2021 Kensington Books
Kindle Edition; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-1496729460
Audiobook: B08SFKFD8Z
Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Cozy
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

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 . . .
My Thoughts
Murder in the Cookbook Nook is the latest entry in one of my favourite cozy mystery series, the Book Retreat Mysteries.  I was so happy when I learned there was going to be another entry in this series as it really felt like it was all over after the events of the previous book, and I wondered where the author was going to take these characters next.  I enjoyed this story, and particularly liked that it was more of a traditional cozy murder mystery story although there is a part of me that would like the intrigues of Jane and the Fins to continue as well.
I have always thought the character development in this series to be one of the greater strengths, and this continues in this book.  The author spends time developing an interesting array of diverse characters and I find all of them intriguing in their own ways, even the ones meant to be boorish, or downright annoying.  I always enjoy the chapters where The Cover Girls are involved, and I like the diversity of Jane's friends.  And if you have read this author's other book series, you will recognize the name Olivia Lemoges in this book, a really nice surprise, and one I wasn't expecting. (Check out her mystery series, Books By the Bay Mysteries, if you are interested.)
One of the main themes always running through these books is family, and I love the importance the author puts on that theme, through Jane's love of her twin sons and the fierce protectiveness she feels when they are in danger, but also through the witty dialogue and interactions she has with her family members.  It plays such a huge role in Jane's decision-making and it's one of the things I love about this series.
The mystery was pretty solid as well, and as usual, there was a much darker side to what was happening, something I really like about these books, and something that made me go do some research to discover more about it.  While the book is supposed to be lighter than a regular mystery, the themes, and social issues, running through it are definitely not that light and I appreciate the author highlighting them in her book.  I was just so glad to see Jane and the Fins back in action, and it was nice to see them work on something that was a bit different than previous books, even if the subject material had some major themes underlying it.  I did figure out who the culprit was fairly early on in the book, but the author's ability to discuss uncomfortable social issues in such a format makes for an interesting read despite having figured it out. 
Murder in the Cookbook Nook was a solid entry in this series and I enjoyed it quite a bit.  I thought the characters continued to evolve, especially as their roles were changing after the events in the previous book, and I liked reading about how they were adjusting.  The mystery was solid, with some major themes running through them that make you look at cooking shows in a different light.  And while you could start the series with this book, I do recommend you read from the beginning in order tolearn about Jane and the Fins. 


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