Welcome to my stop on the Great Escapes Book Tour for A Flicker of a Doubt by Daryl Wood Gerber! Read on for a guest post from the author and for my review.
A Flicker of a Doubt (Fairy Garden Mystery #4)
Publication Date: March 28, 2023
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Preorder on Amazon (affiliate link)
Fairies are trending hard, especially when it comes to fairy garden décor in Walmart and Target and on Amazon. The latest installment in the nationally bestselling Daryl Wood Gerber’s Fairy Garden mysteries is a perfect read for Laura Childs readers and all fans of whimsy and charm.
With a theater foundation tea and an art show planned at Violet Vickers’s estate, Courtney is hired to create charming fairy gardens for the event. It’s not so charming, however, when her best friend Meaghan’s ex-boyfriend turns out to be Violet’s latest artistic protégé. Even worse, not long after Meaghan locks horns with him, his body is found in her yard, bludgeoned with an objet d’murder.
There’s a gallery of suspects, from an unstable former flame to an arts and crafts teacher with a sketchy past. But when the cops focus on Meaghan’s business partner, who’s like a protective older brother to her, and discover he also has a secret financial motive, Courtney decides to draw her own conclusions. Fearing they’re missing the forest for the trees, and with some help from Fiona the sleuthing fairy, she hopes to make them see the light . . .
Author guest post:
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, because I write culinary mysteries, I have to come up with recipes that I can include in my books. May I tell you how hard it is to come up with new recipes? Everything under the sun has been done. So here’s what I do to keep it fresh. For 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 the upcoming Poaching is Puzzling (April 2023), the theme is a crossword puzzle event. There is a kickoff party featuring lots of appetizers, so I decided to share appetizer recipes with my readers. Crispy salmon appetizers, mini quiches, mini potpies, and of course, dessert comes after appetizers, so I include a few desserts. The pumpkin cardamom pie is to die for. For the Fairy Garden Mysteries, because Courtney serves tea at her fairy garden shop, Open Your Imagination, on the weekends, I come up with recipes that could be served for tea. Cookies, tea cakes, scones, and my favorites, brownies. In addition, Courtney’s boyfriend owns a popular café, so in A Flicker of a Doubt, I put his savory recipes on display.
Now, perhaps you didn’t know this, but the ingredients in a recipe are not copyrightable. Why not? Because ingredients are essentially a formula. Granted, when I land on a recipe, I often tweak the ingredients, adding spices or items that I believe might zip up a recipe. But how many variations of ingredients could there be when, say, making sugar cookies? What is copyrightable is the language used to concoct the recipe [i.e., the directions]. Putting the instructions in one’s own words can be a challenge. Think about it. Verbs like stir, mix, and whip all crop up in a recipe. I’m not going to change those to blend, beat, and whisk just to make the directions different, although, come to think of it, that might be easier to 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 use words that I typically use, terms I say to myself when I cook. A recipe might call for chopped vegetables, but I call them veggies, and I prefer the term diced to chopped. I call the refrigerator the fridge, and so on . . .
Does that sound silly? Sure, but as a writer, every day I come up with expressions that are specific to me or to my characters. Therefore, each time I create a new recipe to include in a book, I fine-tune those directions. It’s a way for me to bring you into my kitchen . . . and into my world.
Savor the mystery!
This was the first of Daryl Wood Gerber’s Fairy Garden Mysteries that I’ve read, but I was able to follow along without too much difficulty. And now I want to read them all!
Courtney Kelly runs a shop called Open Your Imagination, where she sells fairy gardens and fairy doors and the supplies to make them. She’s also filling an order for several large fairy gardens that Violet Vickers wants to decorate for her theater foundation tea and art show.
Nicolas, her friend Meaghan’s ex-boyfriend, is back in town. He’s one of the featured artists at Violet’s show, and he manages to get into confrontations with several people in short order. The tension ramps up when Nicolas’s brother shows up demanding to know where Nicolas is and threatening to collect on the sizable debt he claims Nicolas owes him. Shortly thereafter, Ziggy, Meaghan’s business partner and friend, finds Nicolas dead outside Meaghan’s house. Courtney can’t sit idly by and not try to help. And the more she digs, the more unsavory things she learns about Nicolas and his family.
Carmel-by-the-Sea is a delightful setting for this story. It feels like the kind of place where one might find fairies. With all of the creative energy, it also sounds like a place I’d love to visit!
Courtney is a likable character. She has a jewel of a helper in her shop in Joss, and Joss’s assistance lets Courtney be there when she needs to be for her friends. Violet is a treat, too. I love that she pokes fun at herself about her excessive use of the word “lovely.”
The more Courtney tries to figure out whodunnit, the more suspects she comes up with. Was it Nicolas’s brother? Any one of the several women who apparently had a thing going with him? Suspects are considered and ruled out, and then we’re back to square one. Gerber did a good job keeping me guessing as to who the real killer was.
I love the fairies! Gerber includes a lot of lore and information about different fairy types and classifications, and the fairies we meet are charming. Fiona, Courtney’s fairy, cracked me up with her efforts to figure out which humans could see her and which couldn’t. And the ending of the book left me wondering if we’ll see Fiona in the next book in the series. I hope so! (Spoiler: No, Fiona isn’t dead. Now go read the book and see what happened.)
If you like a clean cozy mystery with interesting characters, a beautiful setting, and a mystery that keeps you guessing, you need to pick up A Flicker of a Doubt. Heck, start at the beginning of the series. I give this five stars, and now I’m off to catch up on the first three!
About Daryl Wood Gerber
Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber is best known for her nationally bestselling Fairy Garden Mysteries, Cookbook Nook Mysteries, and French Bistro Mysteries. As Avery Aames, she penned the popular Cheese Shop Mysteries. In addition, Daryl writes the Aspen Adams Novels of Suspense as well as stand-alone suspense. Daryl loves to cook, fairy garden, and read. She has a frisky Goldendoodle who keeps her in line. And she has been known to jump out of a perfectly good airplane and hitch-hike around Ireland alone. You can learn more on her website: httsp://darylwoodgerber.com
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