Food, books, and a town's Halloween celebration. Daryl Wood Gerber's Stirring the Plot sounds light and seasonal. But, she never forgets that murder is serious, and the owners of The Cookbook Nook are determined to find justice for a lost friend.
All of Crystal Cove, California celebrates Halloween. The Winsome Witches, a charitable group of women, use the celebrations to raise money for literacy, culminating in a fund-raiser luncheon. However, Jenna Hart, owner of The Cookbook Nook, notices that some of her Aunt Vera's friends seem a little snappy. But, the luncheon is successful and the women end up at the High Priestess' house afterward to toast their success. Unfortunately, Pearl's party is disrupted by her angry daughter, Trisha, who makes a scene, saying hateful things about her mother. And, then the next day, three of the Winsome Witches, including Jenna's Aunt Vera, find Pearl dead.
With an excellent police chief, Cinnamon Pritchett, the Winsome Witches should let her solve the crime. But, Aunt Vera is convinced she lost her psychic powers after Pearl's death, and, in order to get them back, she needs to find the killer. Jenna fears she herself may have brought bad karma to the town. And, she wants to support her aunt.
Daryl Wood Gerber excels in the description of Crystal Cove and its Halloween celebrations. The town, the bookstore and all of the other shops are beautiful participants in the season. Halloween is truly celebrated in the book.
There does seem to be an extreme hysteria in the book. Aunt Vera fears her loss of power. Jenna is all over the town with her suspicions and her fear for her aunt. However, as I wrote this, I realized hysteria and witchcraft, even pretend witchcraft, go hand-in-hand. So, maybe it isn't so out of line for Stirring the Plot.
Although the feeling of hysteria bothered me, Stirring the Plot was delightful. It's about women who truly care for each other, and the search for answers to the death of one of them. At the same time, Gerber manages to incorporate Halloween, food, an excitement about books, and a touch of romance. It's a fun, seasonal treat.
Daryl Wood Gerber's website is www.darylwoodgerber.com
Stirring the Plot by Daryl Wood Gerber. Berkley Prime Crime. 2014. ISBN 9780425258064 (paperback), 287p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.