Friday, January 29, 2016

Review and Giveaway: Death of A Bad Apple by Penny Pike

Death of a Bad Apple
Author:  Penny Pike
Series:  A Food Festival Mystery 3
Publisher:  Obsidian, January 5, 2016
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
List Price:  US$7.99 (print and eBook)
ISBN:  9780451467836 (print); 9780698143364 (eBook)

The latest deliciously appealing mystery from the author of Death of a Chocolate Cheater

Anxious to take a break from bustling San Francisco, Darcy and her Aunt Abby pack up the food truck and head for the apple festival at Apple Valley, California. Aunt Abby is sure her almond apple tarts will be a hit and Darcy wants to collect more recipes for her food truck cookbook.

But when a fellow guest at the Enchanted Apple Inn is pared-down—and the Inn’s owner ends up the prime suspect—Darcy must peel away the layers of the mystery. Because an apple a day certainly isn’t keeping the killer away…

Jennifer's Review

The third installment of Penny Pike’s Food Festival Mystery Series is entitled Death of a Bad Apple and is centered on the Apple Valley Festival, a celebration of all things apple in Apple Valley, California. The story follows Darcy and her family. Darcy’s Aunt Abby has decided to take her popular comfort food truck, a converted big yellow school bus, to Apple Valley to showcase her newly created caramel apple tarts. Aunt Abby convinces her son, Dillon, and Darcy, to accompany her to the festival and Darcy is happy to learn that her boyfriend, Jake, will be taking his cream puff food truck there as well. Instead of the romantic apple filled weekend that Darcy is envisioning, the group get mixed up in a mystery that involves the big business of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the small town apple growers opposition to them, arson, and, of course, murder. The group aren’t in Apple Valley for an entire day before they experience a fire and the murder of one of their fellow inn guests.

Darcy is an unemployed journalist who most recently worked as a food critic and has decided to take her experience with writing and working in the food truck industry to pen a new cookbook featuring classic and innovative food truck recipes. It has taken Darcy the course of two books to warm up to the idea of changing the course of her life with the food truck, but is now getting comfortable. Her natural curiosity is peaked whenever a crime is afoot, and she can be reckless when looking for clues in a mystery. Her absolutely dreamy boyfriend, Jake, is more cautious but every bit as curious when a puzzle comes along. Aunt Abby is a delightfully vivacious character and although she is in her sixties, she is really a young girl at heart. She is always well coiffed and coordinated, is eternally cheerful, and has a strong and comical mischievous streak. Abby also brings her boyfriend along on the trip, Detective Wellesley Shelton, a seasoned cop she met in a previous novel. Abby’s son Dillon shares her mischievous streak, but his is much more quietly displayed. Dillon is a reclusive and talented computer hacker, who is often unkempt and awkward, but has a good heart.

The group are staying in a quaint little inn during their stay in Apple Valley, run by an old friend of Abby’s, Honey Smith. Joining Honey are a host of other local characters including Roscoe “Red” Cortland and his ex-wife Crystal and their daughter Tiffany, Nathan “Appleseed” Chapman, and Adam Bramely. We also meet two outsiders also staying at the inn, Roman Gold and Paula Hayashi. Honey is a sweet lady with a great love for her hometown and an equally great hatred for the GMO industry. Red is her boyfriend, who runs a neighboring apple farm and is also not a fan of GMOs. Red is divorced from Crystal a rather bitter vintner of apple wine, and has a daughter, Tiffany, a young woman who has a changeable character. Nathan, the organizer of the apple festival, is purported to be a descendant of famous apple grower, Johnny Appleseed, and has a wandering eye for women much younger than himself and a fondness for alcohol. Adam is the mild mannered head of the local apple association and also a farmer. Inn guest, Roman, says he is in Apply Valley to pen an article about the festival, which is why everyone is so surprised when this innocuous gentleman is found stabbed to death the morning after his arrival. Roman’s companion and photographer, Paula, a shark like, sexy siren, seems genuinely distraught and confused by his murder, but Darcy wonders if Roman and Paula are actually what they seem.

The mystery is complex, keeping the reader guessing as to the motives and perpetrators of the various fires and murders that are plaguing the festival and small town. The main characters, well developed from the beginning of the series, show even more depth in this installment. The book is bit too heavily peppered with everything related to apples, from character names to multiple references to apple themed food and drink, but this does not detract from the plot. There is also a nice section at the end with recipes. I’ll be interested to see what kind of scrape Darcy and her crew get into in the next book in the series.


Death of a Chocolate Cheater
A Food Festival Mystery 2
Obsidian, June 2, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

Food truck vendor Darcy Burnett unwraps a murder at the San Francisco Chocolate Festival in this mystery from the author of Death of a Crabby Cook
At this year’s chocolate festival, Darcy and her Aunt Abby hope to win the $10,000 prize in the chocolate contest with Aunt Abby’s taste sensation: the chocolate raspberry whoopee pie. A little friendly competition from Darcy’s sometime-beau Jake Miller, who plans to enter with his chocolate cream puff delight, only sweetens the deal. But things get sticky when one of the judges, Polly Montgomery, is taken out of commission—permanently.

The suspects include every contestant with reason to believe Polly wasn’t too sweet on their sweets, including Aunt Abby’s high school friend. Now Darcy must pick through an assortment of secrets to catch a killer before someone else gets a bittersweet finish.

Death of a Crabby Cook
Obsidian, August 5, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

First in a new series!
At the San Francisco Seafood Festival, someone is steamed enough to kill a cook....
When restaurant reviewer Darcy Burnett gets served a pink slip from the San Francisco Chronicle, she needs to come up with an alternative recipe for success quickly. Her feisty aunt Abby owns a tricked-out school bus, which she’s converted into a hip and happening food truck, and Darcy comes aboard as a part-timer while she develops a cookbook project based on recipes from food fests in the Bay Area.

But she soon finds someone’s been trafficking in character assassination—literally—when a local chef turns up dead and her aunt is framed for the murder. The restaurant chef was an outspoken enemy of food trucks, and now Darcy wonders if one of the other vendors did him in. With her aunt’s business—and freedom—on the line, it’s up to Darcy to steer the murder investigation in the right direction and put the brakes on an out-of-control killer….


The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of Death of a Bad Apple by Penny Pike from the publisher. US ONLY

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on February 6, 2016. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change without any notice.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I'm not familiar with this series but it looks inviting. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

  2. First I've heard of this series, but it looks interesting. Also, I'm always up for the chance for a free book.

  3. I have heard of this series and it looks captivating and special. Thanks for this lovely feature and giveaway.saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  4. Sounds like this will be an interesting addition to this series. Thanks for the chance to win.