Monday, August 11, 2014

Death of a Crabby Cook

Author:  Penny Pike
Genre:  Mystery

Five Stars

When restaurant reviewer Darcy Burnett gets served a pink slip from the San Francisco Chronicle, she needs to come up with an alternative recipe for success quickly.  Her feisty aunt Abby owns a tricked-out school bus, which she's converted into a hip and happening food ruck, and Darcy comes aboard as a part-timer while she develops a cookbook project based on recipes from food fests in the Bay Area.

But she soon finds someone's trafficking in character assassination-literally-when a local chef turns up dead and her aunt is framed for the murder.  The restaurant chef was an outspoken enemy of food trucks, and now Darcy wonders if one of the other vendors did him in.  With her aunt's business-and freedom-on the line, it's up to Darcy to steer the murder investigation in the right direction and put the brakes on an out-of-control killer...

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Darcy Burnett loses her job at the Chronicle due to downsizing.  Her ex-boss, however, throws her a bone in the fact that he tells her he will be offering her freelance positions occasionally, and the first one is the San Francisco Crab and Seafood Festival, which includes the food trucks.  Since her aunt is owner of one of them, serving up comfort food, Darcy is reluctantly helping her aunt out during the festival.  Reluctantly, because although Darcy was a food critic, she can't cook.  She can't even boil water.

While arriving at her aunt's truck, she sees her arguing with a local brick-and-mortar business owner about who has a right to be where.  Her aunt is carrying a large kitchen knife, and is observed by most of the other truck owners.  After convincing Abby to calm down, she finds out that Oliver, the business owner, had threatened Abby.   So, when Oliver later turns up dead, Abby is front and central on the police radar.

While trying to clear her aunt, Darcy figures it must have been another food truck owner, so she begins questioning them - Willow, the Coffee Witch, Sierra and Vandy, the vegan truck owners, etc., and most important - Jake Miller, owner of Dream Puffs.  Jake makes cream puffs to die for, and it doesn't hurt that he's gorgeous, either.  As a matter of fact, Darcy has gained five pounds trying to get to know him (her words, not mine).

But when there is another murder, and this time it's a food truck owner, now there are two murders to solve, and the heat is not only on Abby, but also on her son Dillon, who is a computer geek and has taken to hiding and outlandish disguises to keep under the radar.

This book is fun, fresh, and different.  I've never read a mystery with food trucks, (or 'roach coaches' if you will) as the focal point.  It's something that doesn't immediately come to mind when you think cozy mystery.  Or any mystery, for that matter.  But it's written well and makes perfect sense as the story progresses.  And when the killer is finally revealed, I must say that all the red herrings pointed in a different direction (at least until Darcy started putting everything together).  And that, for me, is the sign of a good mystery.  Highly recommended.

http://www.amazon.com/Death-Crabby-Cook-Festival-Mystery/dp/0451467817/

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