A Deadly Éclair: A French Bistro Mystery
by Daryl Wood Gerber
About the Book
A Deadly Éclair: A French Bistro Mystery
Crooked Lane Books (June 12, 2018)
Paperback: 368 pages
Kindle ASIN: B06XWDWRLF
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, the scrumptious series debut by Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber.
If you want to go by my friend’s yardstick that a mystery is only a cozy if it has recipes, well this one is a super cozy mystery! Mimi’s bistro and the French food served there are practically characters in their own right. There are several dishes described in mouth-watering detail and the book ends with several pages of French food recipes. Various wines are also well-described and, for the most part, these descriptions flow with the story rather than disrupt.
This is the first book in the French Bistro Mystery series. I like that this story starts with Mimi’s new life and doesn’t drag us through her initial settling in stages in Napa. That said, at times I almost felt that maybe I missed something in a previous book.
The mystery: Who killed Bryan? He’s well-liked by his neighbours in the town of Nouvelle Vie. But it looks like within his family and business associates, things may not have been so rosy. There is a very good list of suspects, from a wide cast of characters. Surprisingly, it was pretty easy to keep track of all the different players. Perhaps this is because they are each quite distinct. Each suspect has likeable and unlikeable characteristics. I quite enjoyed that as I never knew who to back and who I’d like to see end up as the culprit. Most of the motives divined by Mimi and her support are convincing, though some are far-fetched and others still rely on a whole bunch of ifs.
In terms of characters, I fully enjoyed Mimi’s backstory and her tribulations with her first husband and her wonderful relationship with her late father. I like her drive and determination and her love for her friends and mother. However she got a tad annoying with her pushy questions and rather bold-faced behaviour regarding the very likeable town sheriff. I’m not even sure why some suspects entertained her questioning, especially as paying guests at her inn!
Speaking of the law, Tyson is the local sheriff and potential love interest for Mimi’s best friend, Jo. He’s likeable and seems very competent. He’s certainly very patient with Mimi’s parallel investigation antics. Maybe Mimi could back off a little and let the poor man do his job, in future stories.
Mimi’s mom is delightful and the stories about her late father are charming. I look forward to getting to know some of the other secondary characters better in subsequent stories, including the quirky restaurant staff and the dreamy love interest and wine expert, Nash.
In general, the pacing of the novel is good, though there are lags at points. In fairness, first novels often do take a while setting the scene for the series.
Overall, I think this was a well-plotted, interesting mystery set in the very atmospheric Napa wine valley. I look forward to the next one as well.
I give this story 4/5 French shots.
About the Author
Agatha Award-winning Daryl Wood Gerber is best known for her nationally bestselling Cookbook Nook Mysteries and CHEESE SHOP MYSTERIES, which she pens as Avery Aames. She will soon debut the new French Bistro Mysteries. Daryl also writes stand-alone suspense: DAYS 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!
Visit Daryl or Avery at www.darylwoodgerber.com.
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