A good cook makes an even better detective when her grandfather is suspected of murder.
Val Deniston left behind New York City and a cheating fiance for the quiet life in Bayport, a touristy Chesapeake Bay town. She works at the cafe in a local health club and lives with her crusty grandfather in a large Victorian house. Grandad is known as the Codger Cook for his cooking column in a local paper, but his reputation is a sham, since Val does all the work while he takes the credit. A dinner at his home is a comedy of errors. Val runs and hides whenever one of the guests comes into the kitchen, where she’s preparing the meal. But it’s not so funny when one of the guests complains of stomach pain and later dies, an apparent victim of the creamy chowder. Although the guest of honor was Grandad’s girlfriend, Lillian, Val finds out there was an ulterior motive for the dinner. The dead man was suspected of running a financial scam targeting seniors, and Grandad and Lillian had hoped to unmask him. Val, no stranger to murder (By Cook or by Crook, 2014), is determined to prove Grandad innocent. When a reporter who was at the dinner is shot dead, Val digs deeper and discovers some nasty secrets, all the while dealing with harassment from her friend Gunnar Swensen’s jealous former girlfriend. Val’s problems are reminiscent of Parnell Hall’s mysteries about the fraudulent Puzzle Lady, and the pleasant sleuth's second case is similar to many another cooking cozy as well.
The appended five-ingredient recipes vie for pride of place with the simple mystery.