Posted in Reviews 2014 You Read How Many Books Challenge

Cozy Wednesday with Penny Pike – Author of Death of a Crabby Cook – Giveaway too!

cozy wednesday 2013 640Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

Today I am super excited to welcome Penny Pike!

Her new Food Festival Mystery debuted this month with Death of a Crabby Cook.

Photograph (Jim Stevens/Bay Area News Group)
Photograph (Jim Stevens/Bay Area News Group)

by Penny Pike Warner

Do you munch while you read mysteries? How could you not, when reading one of the many wonderful food-related series on the market today, everything from cupcakes and pies to bacon and fries. I think the reason these culinary mysteries are so popular is simple: they make you hungry, you eat while you read, and they come with recipes.

I got the idea for writing a food truck mystery a couple of years ago before the “meals on wheels” phenomenon swept the country. I was in Napa, CA, doing research for another book (AKA drinking a lot of wine), and spotted a circle of colorful trucks offering intriguing specialties. I decided to try some plein air dining and ordered a little of everything from trucks Kung Fu Tacos, Happy Dumplings, The Boneyard, Fins on the Hoof, Me So Hungry, and Naked Chorizo. Yum. I was hooked.

crabbycookREVISECombining my love of both food and fiction, I began writing the first book in the food truck/food festival series, Death of a Crabby Cook. I created Darcy Burnett, a total foodie who loves to eat, but barely knows how to heat a frozen dinner in the microwave. To complicate things, I made her a restaurant reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle, suddenly downsized, and desperately in need of a job. While eating a therapeutic Caramel Espresso Cream Puff whipped up by Jake Miller from the Dream Puff Truck—and recognizing a hot food trend when she sees one—she’s inspired to write a cookbook full of food truck recipes.

Her first source is the upcoming San Francisco Seafood Festival. Darcy plans to use her journalistic skills to gather recipes for everything from Crab Mac and Cheese from her aunt’s Big Yellow School Bus food truck, to Hangtown Oyster Omelets from the Bacon is the New Black truck.

But her plans are interrupted by a loud commotion in the Ft. Mason food truck area. Chef Oliver Jameson is arguing with a petite woman wielding a large knife. The woman happens to be Darcy’s sixty-something Aunt Abby, a former school cafeteria cook who now owns her own tricked-out school bus and serves comfort food to hungry diners. Abby accuses Jameson of harassing the food truckers in the area—competition for his brick-and-mortar Bones ‘n’ Brew restaurant—which he denies. Did he really plant a rat in her bus to get her in trouble with the Health Department?

When the chef is suddenly poisoned by his own crab bisque—and Aunt Abby becomes a suspect—Darcy smells a rat. Together with Aunt Abby’s hacker son Dillon and dream puff Jake Miller, she discovers something rotten in the food truck world. But it’s not the recipes…they’re to die for!

I just finished DEATH OF A CHOCOLATE CHEATER, and I have to admit, the research was more fun than the writing. I think I’ll include a warning label inside the book: Read with chocolate. And there will be plenty of recipes to help.


About Penny Warner/Penny Pike

Penny Warner has published over 60 books for both adults and children. Her first mystery series, beginning with DEAD BODY LANGUAGE, features Connor Westphal, a deaf reporter living in the California Gold Country. The book won a Macavity Award for Best First Mystery, and was nominated for an Agatha and an Anthony Award.

Her second mystery series, beginning with How to Host a Killer Party, features event planner, Presley Parker, and is set in the San Francisco Bay Area. Presley solves mysteries on Alcatraz, at the de Young Museum, at the Winchester Mystery House, in Colma, the City of Souls, and in the Napa wine country.

Her newest series, Death of a Crabby Cook, features Darcy Burnett, a former restaurant critic who now works in her Aunt Abby’s food truck and lives in an Airstream RV. The book is set among food trucks and food festivals in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the Seafood Festival. DEATH OF A CHOCOLATE CHEATER, set at the Chocolate Festival, will be out next year, followed by DEATH OF AN APPLE FEST PEST.

Her middle-grade mystery series, The Code Busters Club, won the Agatha Award for Best Children’s Mystery, and has been nominated for the World Mystery Anthony Award for Best Children’s Mystery. The series features four kids who solve mysteries by cracking codes in each chapter. The books are set in Berkeley, on Alcatraz, at the Carmel Mission, at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, and the International Spy Museum in Washington DC. Her non-fiction book, The Official Nancy Drew Handbook,was nominated for an Agatha Award.

She writes a column for the local newspaper on family life in the Valley, creates fund-raising murder mystery events for libraries across the country, and teaches child development at Diablo Valley College. She can be reached at or

crabbycookREVISEDeath of a Crabby Cook:
A Food Festival Mystery

Brand New Series
Cozy Mystery
An Obsidian Mystery (August 5, 2014)
An Imprint of New American Library
Published by The Penguin Group
Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0451467812
E-Book File Size: 1307 KB


At the San Francisco Seafood Festival, someone is steamed enough to kill a cook….

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I absolutely loved Penny’s Party Planning Mysteries so I am so glad she has returned with this Death of a Crabby Cook: – A Food Festival Mystery Series.

We meet Darcy Burnett who wrote restaurant reviews for the San Francisco Chronicle, I use the past tense because she was laid off as the story began. She quickly starts helping her Aunt Abby with her food truck with hopes of writing a cookbook based on recipes from food fests in the Bay Area.

Penny Pike has written quite a mystery and for most of the book I thought I knew whodunit and happily was so wrong. She had twisted me into quite a pretzel. No pretzel food truck in the story though but there is The Coffee Witch, Dream Puffs, The Yankee Doodle Noodle Truck, Road Grill, The Big Yellow School Bus and more.

Darcy’s aunt worked in a school cafeteria until she retired and opened The Big Yellow School Bus where she serves comfort food like Crabby Cheerleader Mac and Cheese and Science Experiment Spaghetti.

There is a local chef, Oliver Jameson, who owns a restaurant adjacent to where the food trucks park daily and he is sure they are the reason his restaurant is going broke.  He has had very public arguments with most of the food truck owners but he had a huge one today with Aunt Abby. So when his dead body is found she is the number one suspect.

Darcy knows her aunt would never hurt a soul, she may yell at someone but kill them, no way!! All the clues keep pointing to Abby so Darcy knows she is being framed. With a little help from her techie cousin Dillon, Darcy is going to catch the killer one way or another.

All these mobile restaurant owners are truly unique and most have some kind of secret. I was really surprised at how much we found out about these characters in this first book. My mother ran a restaurant/cafe for years in our small town. Aunt Abby reminds me a lot of my mom. She cooked comfort food too. She was also very independent just like Aunt Abby. Darcy is a little like I was back then, I couldn’t cook worth a darn and sometimes was a little too nosy for my own good. Thankfully my life was never in danger.

This story is a lot like the food Aunt Abby served, comfortable with a few surprises to keep those pages turning at a pretty speedy pace.  My only problem with the story is that it didn’t come with food samples. I know there are recipes included but I sure could go for a Dreamy Cream Puff or 2 or 3, any flavor drizzled with chocolate and sprinkled with powdered sugar right now and the whole time I was reading this story!!

a perfect escape5 STARFISH

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent


Thanks to the people at Penguin I have 2 copies to give away!

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”