This is my first book in the Cookbook Nook mystery series. I felt it gave enough for me to jump right in without being lost not reading the prior books.
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Copyright: September 2014 (Berkley) 304 pgs
Series: 3rd in Cookbook Nook Mystery series
Sensuality: some kissing
Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy Mystery
Main Characters: Jenna Hart, owner of The Cookbook Nook
Setting: Modern day, Crystal Cove, California
Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review
The entire town of Crystal Cove is gearing up for the annual Halloween fund-raiser luncheon and fair sponsored and organized by the local Winsome Witches, a women's charity group. They aren't actual witches, or so they say, but they play up the role for the sake of raising money for good causes. Pearl Thornton, "head witch" of the Winsome Witches, is a popular therapist. Shortly after the gang is gathered at her house, Pearl is murdered. Suspects start popping up including her own daughter. Initially, Jenna grasps at straws with several very improbable and even ridiculous theories. Those give way to more realistic ideas as she gains more information about the people in Pearl's life.
Jenna seems to have two personalities. The rational level-headed Jenna, and the slightly silly Jenna. Perhaps it was that the rational Jenna acted uncharacteristically at times. Either way, I don't care for silly Jenna. Aunt Vera is funny, but silly at times too, and it isn't her age either. Cary, Jenna's dad, is actually the best character IMHO. He was FBI who now runs a hardware store and has a little edge to him, he fulfilled the "stay away from anybody and everybody, heaven forbid you ask a question -- don't be a sleuth or have any curiosity at all" lines. Rhett, the boyfriend, seemed nice but was essentially just arm-candy for Jenna without much substance to him, at least in this book. Thankfully, he wasn't the standard cop for a boyfriend.
Crystal Cove, California is a standard small town with not much to distinguish it. There are a few hints tossed out that the area has some paranormal energies, but very slight mentions which don't really lead anywhere. The plot is standard cozy murder and motives, although it does take a little bit before the motive comes into focus. The pacing is a stroll, on par for a cozy. The climax had some good tense moments, but was over in a flash. I would have liked a little more attention on the climax and creating more suspense.
Rating: Good - A fun read with minor flaws. Maybe read an excerpt before buying.
Here are several easy crafts for Halloween. Some of these are great!