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    BY COOK OR BY CROOK by Maya Corrigan

    BY COOK OR BY CROOK by Maya Corrigan is the first book in the A Five-Ingredient Mystery series. After the break up with her cheating fiancée and being demoted to a menial job after a car accident incident, Val Deniston moved to Bayport where she lives with her grandfather and runs the Cool Down Café at the Bayport Fitness Club. She hopes to eventually work on a cookbook of her own instead of promoting professional chefs and their cookbooks as she did in New York. After the very public display of emotions at finding out her husband, Maverick, had cheated on her with Nadia Westrin, Monque Mott, Val’s cousin, is the prime suspect when Nadia is found brutally murdered. Val feels the only way to prove Monque’s innocence is to find out who did it. Although Val believes she is being discreet in asking questions under the guise of doing an article about Nadia’s death for the Tennis Club newspaper, evidently she is hitting too close for comfort because accidents seem to start finding Val. In the meantime, Val’s grandfather enters some of Val’s 5 ingredient recipes with his embellishment in a newspaper contest to win a job. Surprisingly for a man who doesn’t cook, he won. Val describes her grandfather as a codger, but her love for him is evident as she helps him with his cooking and encouraging him to fix up his older home. He has some good advice for Val as well that helps her with her sleuthing and her safety. Val does share the information she gathered with Chef Yardley, an old friend of Val’s grandfather, as well as gained some insight from him as well. It wasn’t until after the third “accident” that everyone began to think they were all connected in an attempt to keep Val from investigating. Definitely highly recommend BY COOK OR BY CROCK. It is an excellent written cozy that will have you on the edge of your seat one minute, hoping for romance between Val and Gunnar the next while leading you on the search for clues on whodunit. It will have you making guesses only to have them proven wrong. Loved the mix of character which as Val’s grandfather said added spice to an already wonderful recipe. It was thrilling to see how the author got you to reveal of solving the crime, but even then it wasn’t over. She had you right up to the last page shaking your head going “Oh right!” BY COOK OR BY CROOK can definitely be read as a standalone. However, if like me, you will be anxious to see where the rest of the books in this series go. What adventures can Val or the rest of the characters take us on? Will Val and Gunnar have a chance? What other wonderful recipes will she share with us?
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