"Readers will be shocked by this exciting, fast-paced thriller’s twists and turns."– Kirkus Reviews
When a festival of sweets is imperiled by the murder of its organizer, the owner of the host restaurant investigates to clear her chef of the crime.
Mimi Rousseau may have bitten off more than she can chew when she offered Maison Rousseau, her Napa Valley restaurant, as a site for the new Sweet Treats Festival. She’s relieved that she can rely on her executive chef, Camille Chabot, known informally as Chef C, to helm the kitchen while Camille’s sister, Renee Wells, runs the festival. Though Mimi knows Renee only through Camille, she trusts her chef, and Renee seems to have a real handle on supervising all the goings-on the Sweet Treats Festival entails. The only one who’s not so sure about Renee is Allie O’Malley, who regrets selling the festival to Renee and wants a cut of the profits. Renee isn’t sympathetic about Allie’s bad business decision and isn’t afraid to gloat. Allie may get the last laugh, however, after Chef C discovers that someone’s killed Renee. The town’s shocked to be the scene of yet another murder (A Deadly Éclair, 2018, etc.), and Mimi’s determined to clear Chef C of the crime even if her sleuthing implicates Allie or uncovers more enemies of Renee. Concentrating on what happened to Renee is the perfect distraction for Mimi, who’s afraid to scrutinize her feelings for Nash Hawke, who may be trying to get closer than she’s ready for.
Spicing the mix with an impressive 14 recipes, from Autumn Quiche to Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies, Gerber balances a beautiful setting with a predictable but enjoyable cozy plot.
Wedding plans go awry with the death of a treasured relative.
With the help of entrepreneur Bryan Baker, Mimi Rousseau owns Bistro Rousseau and Maison Rousseau, a charming inn in the Napa Valley. Now that Bryan’s encouraged her to spread her wings even further, she’s hosting the destination wedding of his niece, talk show host Angelica Barrington, to Lyle Ives, who manages his family’s high-end jewelry store in LA. Cracks soon appear in the joyful celebration. Lyle’s father, David, and his sister, Paula, both express doubts about the marriage. So does Angelica’s father, Edison, a problem gambler who arrives at the pre-wedding dinner drunk. When Bryan’s body is found with an éclair stuffed in his mouth and gems scattered nearby, Mimi’s old friend Sgt. Tyson Daly catches the case. Things look bad for Mimi, whose cellphone is found on the scene. And they get worse: a letter from Bryan absolving her of debt for the bistro and inn upon his death is discovered among his papers. Although Tyson keeps telling her to butt out, Mimi knows she has a better chance than the police of worming secrets out of all the other suspects. Much to Edison’s distress, Angelica inherits Bryan’s estate, and when she and Lyle marry, Mimi wonders if Lyle is after her money. Fortunately, everyone on Mimi’s loyal staff is willing to help her out, and she’s comforted by a new romantic interest: hunky wine expert Nash Hawkes , a recent divorcé whose gorgeous ex-wife seems understandably reluctant to let him go. Although Mimi’s questions apparently get too personal for someone, the threatening warnings she receives don’t deter her from continuing her search for the killer.
On the evidence here, Gerber, who writes several other series (Day of Secrets, 2016, etc.), has aimed this new one at foodies who’ll appreciate the cooking lore and appended recipes enough to overlook the unremarkable mystery.
Gerber (Fudging the Books, 2015, etc.) offers a dark suspense novel filled with desperation and cat-and-mouse games.
Chessa Paxton is keeping it together but only just. On the one hand, she has a wonderful husband, Zach, a blossoming career as a costume designer, and a beautiful Lake Tahoe home. On the other, she must contend with her controlling, conniving stepfather; the fact of her biological father’s incarceration; and the trauma of her mother’s death a year ago. But when Zach is murdered, she has to marshal all her considerable skill and resilience. She was drugged the night of his death and can recall only flashes of what happened; most of the events are a blur of blood, terror, and fairy-tale characters, because the murder took place after a charity costume ball that Chessa had organized. With no one to trust, she has nothing but her wits, her fragmented memories, and her costuming skills to keep her one step ahead of the savvy Detective Newman and the people who killed her husband and framed her. Soon she must uncover the secrets behind Zach’s false passports, her mother’s death, and her father’s alleged crimes. Gerber keeps the tension high from the beginning, and Chessa’s confusion becomes more and more relatable as the narration proceeds. For example, when police begin to consider Chessa the prime suspect, it’s easy to understand her tunnel-vision determination, and when she flees the crime scene in terror, it seems like the only choice she could make. Overall, the novel’s plot is thick, and the prose is more than rich enough to sustain it. Its shifting perspectives will give readers an even greater sense of excitement as the many pieces of the puzzle fall into place.
Readers will be shocked by this exciting, fast-paced thriller’s twists and turns.
A history professor is reunited with his long-lost mother shortly before her murder in Gerber’s (Grilling the Subject, 2016, etc.) mystery-thriller.
Weyford University professor and former U.S. Navy lieutenant Chase Day is understandably shocked when he receives a call from his mother, Sybil Day, whom he thought had died in a fire more than three decades earlier. But he recognizes her voice and, upon her request, drives to the trailer where they once lived. There, he finds Sybil on the floor, bloody and barely alive; Chase tussles with her apparent assailant, who gets away. Sybil manages to utter only a few last words before she dies, asking Chase to save Luther, the father he never knew. When police don’t believe Chase’s story of what happened, he becomes determined to find his dad and stop Sybil’s killer on his own. He starts at Keystone Hospital, where Sybil had once been a patient. Chase believes that Luther was likely a resident there as well, so he searches patient files to find men who’d recently left. Soon, he finds that strangers are following him, and it becomes clear that Luther stole an item decades ago that people desperately want. Gerber’s tale is so densely packed with mysteries that it’s easy to see why Chase is often paranoid. Untrustworthy characters are in abundance: it turns out that Chase’s grandmother Barbie, for example, has been lying to him for years. The frantic plot will keep readers on edge; at one point, Chase assumes the worst when a friend and fellow professor simply doesn’t answer his phone. Gerber does, however, imbue the narrative with humor on occasion, as when Chase equates a stoic nurse in a mental institution with the antagonist from One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The final act is heavily explanatory but convincing, and it wisely doesn’t linger on the aforementioned, much-desired item for too long.
A savvy and energetic whodunit.