Pressing the Issue
By Daryl Wood Gerber
Cookbook Nook Series #6
Beyond the Page, 2018
The Agatha Award–winning author of Grilling the Subject returns to the Cookbook Nook in Crystal Cove, where the annual Renaissance Fair serves up a helping of crafty courtiers, damsels in distress, and medieval murder ...
As the annual Renaissance Fair comes to Crystal Cove, Jenna Hart’s Cookbook Nook is packed with tasty treats and all things medieval, while her pal Bailey is ready to swoon over her upcoming nuptials at a local vineyard. But when the two friends discover the body of the vineyard’s owner bludgeoned by a wine press, all their merriment fades, along with their hopes for a vintage year.
Which churlish varlet did the deed? Was it the victim’s errant brother, who stood to inherit the vineyards? Or the owner’s crestfallen ex-girlfriend? Mayhap it was the newly arrived lusty wench, or her jealous husband. Fie on them all! Verily, Jenna can’t rest until justice is served, and she vows to track down the killer. But can she sniff out the truth before the villainous culprit strikes again?
Daryl Wood Gerber writes several successful mystery series and is consistently good. This is the first Cookbook Nook story that I’ve read, but I easily connected with the characters and would like to read the earlier stories. The main characters, warm and sometimes quirky, are well drawn and endearing.
The coastal California setting of Crystal Cove is vividly conveyed, making its beach and shops a place I’d love to visit. But the real setting, one that literally becomes a major character, is the Renaissance Festival. Food, crafts, theater, costumes, faire speak … the author does a great job of conveying the essence of the fair and enveloping readers in its atmosphere. If you've never been to a Renaissance Festival, you'll want to after reading Pressing the Issue.
Jenna, owner of the bookstore, is an appealing lead character with logic and sensitivity. Rarely do police and amateur investigators get along, but I’d love for the Police Chief to appreciate Jenna’s insight and intuitiveness. The murder victim was a likeable figure, making this story touching. It’s probably not appropriate to enjoy the scene when the protagonist’s life is being threatened, but the final revelation was quite creative and had me smiling.
Pressing the Issue is a clean read, which I greatly appreciated. This is a perfect story for cozy mystery fans and I look forward to more Cookbook Nook mysteries.
I was provided a copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
Agatha Award-winning Daryl Wood Gerber writes the brand new French Bistro Mysteries as well as the nationally bestselling Cookbook Nook Mysteries. As Avery Aames, she pens the popular Cheese Shop Mysteries. A DEADLY ÊCLAIR, the first French Bistro Mystery, comes out November 2017. Daryl also writes stand-alone suspense: DAY OF SECRETS and GIRL ON THE RUN.
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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I have enjoyed Pressing the Issue and it has been an honor to host Daryl today. Now enjoy as she shares some interesting things about the book and herself as well …
Q – A favorite mystery series, other than your own … Domestic Diva Mysteries by Krista Davis. I want Sophie Winston to come to my house and fill my freezer with goodies.
Q – A recent book you enjoyed that wasn’t a mystery … About a Dog by Jenn McKinlay, but caveat, it’s a steamy romance. But funny. Love her voice.
Q – If you could have lunch with any literary character, who would it be and why? Scarlet O’Hara - to have a chat about what she did wrong. LOL Nancy Drew, to figure out why she’s so bold. Hercule Poirot to find out how he became so darned smart.
Q – If you had a bucket list, one thing on it would be … I’d love to tour all the places in Agatha Christie’s mysteries. Is there such a tour?
Q – Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you have different career path in mind growing up?
When I was young, I tried my hand at writing a Nancy Drew novel. I’m not sure how many pages I wrote or whether it even had chapters. My mother didn’t keep it in my “baby book,” but she kept the story about the long-necked giraffe. Hmm. What does that say about my first mystery? LOL
But to directly answer the question, no, I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer. However, I sang and danced and wrote little plays for myself for years, so I guess I was always a storyteller. That passion to write for myself fizzed in 7th grade when I was dealt a mighty blow. A teacher said I shouldn’t be a writer. Now, honestly? What teacher does that to a child? I didn’t even think of writing again until I was in my twenties … I was an actress … and I wanted to write a screenplay that I could star in. That didn’t happen, but taking the step toward writing again and really putting my mind to learning the craft—I took a lot of classes—opened a whole new world for me.
Q – What is a must-have when writing to enhance your creativity? Writing aids, food, music?
There are no “must-haves” for me, but I do enjoy listening to music. I have a number of playlists that are all instrumental. The Secret Garden playlist is the one I use when I’m rewriting. It’s very soothing. When I start a project, I’ll choose a playlist that fits the mood of the book. Depending on which cozy mystery I’m writing, I’ll select Somewhere in Time, Christmas music, or The Secret Garden. For my suspense, I like to listen to jazz or movie themes. In my Cookbook Nook Mystery, Jenna likes to listen to what her mother used to listen to, Judy Garland (which of course has words and is not instrumental), so I often play that music as I drive to get me in the mood.
As for writing aids: a computer. Food: decaf coffee and maybe a sweet. Companionship: Sparky.
Q – What kind of research did you do for Pressing the Issue?
This book focuses on the Renaissance Fair that has come to Crystal Cove. I attended many Renaissance Fairs over the years. Last year, I went to the fair in Los Angeles. It was splendid. The scope was vast. I dressed up. I drank mead. I took lots of pictures and touched something in virtually every seller’s booth so that I could get a feel for the event. I sang with some madrigals. When I was designing the fair for Crystal Cove, it was on a much smaller scope. I reviewed Renaissance Fair sites online for names of the shops and crafts. Fun!
Now, the book also features Jenna’s pal Bailey’s upcoming wedding at a vineyard. I’ve done lots of research at vineyards over the years. There was one I went to in Santa Cruz that had a view of the ocean from its tasting patio. I used that as my basis, and the rest was my imagination.
To one commenter, Daryl is giving away commenter’s choice of one of the first five Cookbook Nook Mysteries or any of the Cheese Shop Mysteries, plus fun swag, including recipe cards and a utility measuring spoon.
To enter the drawing, please click on this link and share my Facebook post, then leave a comment here. Winner will be drawn from those who share. And if you've ever been to a Renaissance Festival, please share about your experience.
BE SURE to leave your name and your email address in a safe format - [at] and [dot] - for the drawing. E-mail required for entry. Contest ends at midnight PST on Wednesday, February 28. Winner will be chosen by random.org and contacted by e-mail.
Eligibility: US residents