By Cook or by Crook (A Five-Ingredient Mystery, #1)by Maya Corrigan

Published November 4th 2014 by Kensington

4.5 Stars

Synopsis: Take one burned-out city girl. Add a crusty codger, a dash of romance, and a twist of humor. Stir in a generous helping of murder, and you’ve got the ingredients for one truly delicious mystery …

Haunted by the car accident that ended her career as a cookbook publicist, Val Deniston has traded in the chaos of New York City for a quieter life near the Chesapeake Bay. Living with her curmudgeonly grandfather in the tourist town of Bayport is hardly glamorous, but she enjoys running the Cool Down Café at the local fitness club, and she finally has time to work on her long-planned cookbook. After a club patron is murdered, Val cooks up a scheme to find the killer who framed her best friend. While Val investigates five suspects and uncovers five key clues, Granddad takes up cooking, creating havoc in the kitchen even when trying recipes that have only five ingredients. Includes 8 five-ingredient recipes!

My Review: This is the first book in “A Five-Ingredient Mystery Series”. The protaganist, Val Deniston has lost her job as a publicist for cookbooks and chefs after a serious car accident, so she has come home to Chesapeake Bay. She has been asked by her mother to assist her grandfather in fixing up his old Colonial House so that he can sell it. She gets a job as the manager of the Cool Down Cafe at the local tennis club. Managing the cafe and playing on the local tennis team, Val quickly gets to know a lot of the people in the small town. Most small towns are the same when it comes to eveyone’s business. When Val’s cousin, Monique gets an anonymous letter that her husband Maverick is having an affair with local real estate agent and tennis club member Nadia, she loses it in front of many tennis club members. When Val goes to Nadia’s home to meet her about a catering job, she finds her dead, stabbed by a sharpened wooden tennis racket. When Val realizes that Moniqe will be the prime suspect, she starts to investigate the murder on her own. Val puts herself at risk and accidents start to happen.

Val’s grandfather is a hoot. When Gunnar, a tourist who might be moving to Chesapeake Bay starts to show an interest in Val, he tries his best to keep them away from one another in his not so subtle way. When he applies for a job as a columnist for the local paper writing a food column, he gets the job. He calls himself the “Codger Cook” and uses Val’s recipes, with some minor changes for his column. There are many other characters introduced in this book that I hope will play a larger role in future books.

There are eight recipes are at the back all made from five ingredients. Enjoy! You know you’ll want to cook them because they look simple and delicious. A cozy mystery lover, who also loves food in their stories will really enjoy this book. I am looking forward to the next one in this series. This is a solid 4.5 star read for me.