by Cynthia Chow
& Daryl Wood Gerber
Not only do we have a review of the second book in the Cookbook Nook mystery series by Daryl Wood Gerber (aka Avery Aames), but we have a fun guest post from Daryl about coming up with new food ideas for both of her cooking series. At the end of this post you will also find details on how to win a copy of Inherit the Word. Also, in this same issue we have a review & giveaway of the new Cheese Shop mystery, Days of Wine and Roquefort, that Daryl writes under the name Avery Aames.
Inherit the Word: A Cookbook Nook Mystery By Daryl Wood Gerber
Review by Cynthia Chow
Nothing brings out the competitive spirit like a cooking contest, and Crystal Cove’s annual Grill Fest pitting amateur cooks against one another for bragging rights turns lethal in a battle for the ultimate grilled cheese. A former advertising wizard, Jenna Hart returned home a young widow to California to partner up with her aunt and create The Cookbook Nook, a bookstore specializing in all books related to food, cooking and eating. Jenna knows a good marketing scheme when she sees one, so when her friend and fellow former advertising wiz, Bailey Bird, announces an opportunity for the store to host the cooking competition at the store, Jenna Hart eagerly accepts. This is despite knowing that the previous year’s contest ended with a battle that became a YouTube sensation, for all of the embarrassing wrong reasons.
Eight-time champion, Natalie Mumford, is not about to give up her grilling crown without a fight, despite some of her stiffest competition coming from Bailey’s mother Lola, the owner of The Pelican Brief Diner. Natalie has a reputation for being a cutthroat businesswoman, dominating her Mum’s the Word Diner employees, and the daughter and son-in-law who work there. Unfortunately, with Lola being the last one seen arguing with Natalie it is Jenna’s “second Mom” who becomes the chief suspect of Police Chief Cinnamon Pritchett, despite her finally ending her family’s rivalry with the Harts. Spurred on by Bailey and unfailingly loyal to Lola, Jenna of course must “help” Cinnamon uncover who really bashed in Natalie with a Panini press.
A mystery featuring a cookbook bookstore is completely irresistible, especially when the author combines it with complex and very well-developed storylines. Jenna still mourns the loss of her husband at sea, and the discovery of hidden treasures he left threatens to disrupt both her trust and memories of him. Experienced mystery readers may detect the identity of the murderer, but this secondary complication will prove to be far more disconcerting. That Jenna finds herself unsettlingly attracted to the improbably named, Rhett Jackson, only confuses her further, but resolving that situation will have to take second place to keeping Lola out of jail. Also the author of the Cheese Shop Mysteries under the name Avery Aames, Gerber entertains readers with her delectable descriptions and knowledge of food.
Cooking classes taught to Jenna by her childhood friend Katie not only allow the reader to be educated in the art of food preparation but permit Jenna, Katie, and Bailey to metaphorically dish, with their gossip being as informative to the investigation as it is a guilty pleasure. As a side note, I love how the author mentions the cookbooks of Sam Choy, renown for popularizing and revolutionizing Pacific Rim cuisine. You would be hard-pressed to find a household in Hawaii without one of his many (over a dozen) cookbooks in the kitchen, and this is another indication of the author’s appreciation, knowledge and love of cooking.
How do you create something unique each time out?
By Daryl Wood Gerber, aka Avery Aames
I had no idea when I started writing mysteries that I’d also have to be a cook. Lucky for me, I was a cook already. I sold pies around the neighborhood when I was ten; I catered parties while in college; I worked in a number of restaurants as I started to build my career as an actress. But now, writing two culinary mysteries, I find that I have to cook all the time to come up with recipes I can include in my books or share on my blog. (*See below about Mystery Lovers Kitchen blog). For each, I want to create something new and unique. So, let me tell you how hard it is to come up with new recipes, week in and week out. Everything under the sun has been done, hasn’t it? Not necessarily. Here’s what I do to keep it fresh.
In each Cheese Shop or Cookbook Nook mystery, I focus on a theme. For the Cheese Shop mysteries, I usually feature a recipe with the cheese based on a title. Throughout Days of Wine and Roquefort I mention a number of delicious, pungent cheeses. One of the recipes included is for a pear and Roquefort quiche. Yum! In the Cookbook Nook mysteries, I often focus on the event that is going on in town, like a festival, a competition, or a play. For example, in Inherit the Word, the second in the Cookbook Nook mysteries, I set the theme as a grill fest contest. Being a little sassy, I decided to make the grill fest all about grilled cheese. Why not write rip off the idea from Delilah, a supporting character in the Cheese Shop series who wanted to have a grilled cheese contest? Oh, the joys of writing two series!
The theme of grilled cheese dictated that I should include grilled cheese recipes in the book. So, I started researching all the cookbooks I own for new and unusual grilled cheese sandwiches; cookbooks with titles like Grilled Cheese, Please!, The Cheese Course, and Grill Every Day. Now, get this, the ingredients in a recipe are not copyrightable. Phew! Ingredients are simply a list, essentially a formula. However, what is copyrightable is the language used to concoct the recipe [i.e., the directions]. Granted, sometimes, I tweak the ingredients, adding things that I believe might zip up a recipe.
However, I also rewrite the directions, putting the instructions in my own words. Sometimes, that’s not so easy to do. Think about it. Verbs like stir, mix, and whip all seem to crop up in a recipe. I’m not going to change those to blend, beat, and whisk just to make the directions different (though, come to think of it, that might be easier to do than what I do. Hmmm.). In addition, if a recipe calls for a six-quart pot; I’m not going to change it to an eight-quart pot just to alter the words. ?
So how do I make it my own? I use my own voice. Oh, sure, I could copy someone else’s recipe (and possibly get sued), but it wouldn’t be written in my voice, and that’s important to me. To make it my own, I have to use words that I might use. Terms I say when I cook. A recipe might call for chopped vegetables, but I call them veggies. And, actually, I prefer the term diced to chopped. I call the refrigerator the fridge. And so on…
Does this sound silly? Not really. As a writer, every day I come up with expressions that are specific to me (or my characters). I don’t want to have my character say, “Dang, that doesn’t sound like me,” when she’s speaking to me—um, yes, my characters speak to me. It’s nuts, I know, but it’s true. Lock me up. Throw away the key. So each time I create a new recipe to include in a book or share on the blog, I really work on those directions, in my voice. It’s my time to share how I do it and bring you into my kitchen…my life.
By the way, did I mention I not only have to cook, but I have to be a photographer? I’m not. I won’t kid you. I’m an aspiring photographer, but I will never be as good as a couple of the authors on our blog (ahem: Cleo Coyle is a master!), but I have fun.
As promised above, here’s a tidbit about the blog I’m a part of: Mystery Lovers Kitchen is a fabulous foodie blog, where mystery authors cook up crime. Check us out. There are new recipes and stories every day! Who knows? You might meet a new author you haven’t read yet!
And if you haven’t checked out the Cheese Shop or Cookbook Nook mysteries, please do. Savor the mystery!
To enter to win a copy of Inherit the Word, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Inherit,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 15, 2014. U.S. residents only.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.