A Deadly Éclair
By Daryl Wood Gerber
A French Bistro Mystery #1
Crooked Lane Books, 2017
It’s always been Mimi Rousseau’s dream to open her own bistro, but it seems beyond her grasp since she’s been chased back home to Nouvelle Vie in Napa Valley by her late husband’s tremendous debt. Until her best friend Jorianne James introduces her to entrepreneur Bryan Baker who invests in promising prospects. Now, working the bistro and inn until she’s able to pay it off and call it her own, Mimi is throwing the inn’s first wedding ever.
The wedding will be the talk of the town, as famous talk show host Angelica Edmonton, daughter of Bryan’s half-brother, Edison, has chosen the inn as her perfect venue. Anxious, Mimi is sure things are going to turn south, especially when Edison gets drunk and rowdy at the out-of-towners’ dinner, but by the evening, things begin to look up again. That is until six AM rolls around, and Bryan is found dead at the bistro with an éclair stuffed in his mouth. And the fingers point at Mimi, whose entire loan is forgiven in Bryan’s will.
Now it’s up to Mimi to clear her name and get to the bottom of things before the killer turns up the heat again in A Deadly Éclair.
Setting, characterization and plot all come together beautifully in A Deadly Éclair, book #1 in Daryl Wood Gerber’s entertaining new French Bistro series. The stage is superbly set for future stories as the cast of characters is introduced and fleshed out, but not in an overwhelming way. Supporting characters, some a little quirky, add richness and depth. Through the fictional setting of Nouvelle Vie, as well as the bistro and inn, the sights and smells of Napa Valley felt so very real.
A Deadly Éclair has a delightful traditional cozy feel. As you would expect from a bistro series, food plays an important part, but descriptions don’t slow the pace down – they only make me hungry! Several appealing recipes are included at the end, introduced by little notes from Mimi and Chef C that make them more personal. They don’t appear to be all that difficult and I plan on trying one or two.
I enjoyed Ms. Gerber’s writing style and all the twists & turns involving the suspects. Readers will be easily drawn to Mimi. It was fun to follow her logical and methodical questioning of the suspects as background info was revealed little by little. She also employed one of my favorite techniques – listing suspects and motives on a blackboard – which helped me keep things straight. And the chemistry between Mimi and Nash added just the right touch of romance, with lots of room for development.
A Deadly Éclair is a clean, enjoyable read. Mimi, as well as her family and friends, are strong, appealing characters, and I look forward to seeing them grow through the series. The only negative for me is the surprising mention of the political leanings of a couple of secondary characters toward the end of the story, something that I want the books I read to be free of.
I was provided a free copy of this book through The Review Crew and Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
Agatha Award-winning Daryl Wood Gerber is best known for her nationally bestselling Cookbook Nook Mysteries and CHEESE SHOP MYSTERIES
Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote.” She loves to cook, and she has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky who keeps her in line!
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