For a fast paced, action packed, food and fun filled cozy murder mystery, grab a bite of Penny Pike’s new DEATH OF A CRABBY COOK. It’s a jam-packed buffet of poison puffs, bisques, and brews, red herrings, and kooky characters, with a generous slathering of suspense and sprinkling of sweet romance.
The story is set in a daily food truck gathering during the annual San Francisco Crab and Seafood Festival at Fort Mason. It’s here that Pike introduces her new protagonist/sleuth, Darcy Burnett, an ex-restaurant reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Darcy’s been let go, due to downsizing, and hopes to nab a freelance job covering the festival.
Among the cleverly named temporary eateries which act as a colorful backdrop for the mystery, are the Yankee Doodle Noodle Truck, Kama Sushi, Road Grill, Dream Puff, and the Big Yellow School Bus.
It’s in this latter vehicle that Darcy’s eccentric Aunt Abby, a former high school cafeteria cook, serves such classic American comfort foods (with a festival twist) as Crabby Cheerleader Mac and Cheese, and the Principal’s Crab Pot Pies. Darcy has promised her aunt to help out during the festival after her nerdy cousin flakes out. She even gets an idea to write a cookbook featuring the various food truck recipes, that is, until more pressing and deadly circumstances intervene.
Across the street is the “brick and mortar” restaurant, Bones ‘n’ Brew, whose grumpy owner blames the food trucks for his declining business. His treacherous tactics to run them out of town has everyone on edge. And after one very public and heated exchange with a knife-waving Aunt Abby, the spiteful owner is found murdered.
Aunt Abby of course is the prime suspect, and Darcy knows she must find the true killer to prove her aunt’s innocence. With a lot of guts and persistence and the help of the dreamy Dream Puff guy (and occasionally her reclusive cousin), Darcy goes through her own list of suspects. Tension builds after someone else is murdered and the tenacious sleuth starts getting death threats.
Although you might suspect the real killer in the last few chapters (or not), DEATH OF A CRABBY COOK is a thoroughly enjoyable read, keeping you turning the pages and wondering which of the oddball “Roadies” is dishing up death. Hopefully there are more Food Festival Mysteries “in the oven.”
Penny Pike, AKA Penny Warner, has used her hometown San Francisco and surrounds as the setting for at least three other mystery series; the popular middle grade CODE BUSTERS mysteries, the Party Planning Mysteries, and the earlier Connor Westphal series featuring a deaf reporter, which won the Macavity Award for Best First Mystery.
For more info, check out her website: http://www.pennywarner.com/