Book Review (and a Giveaway!): Poaching is Puzzling by Daryl Wood Gerber

Posted April 27, 2023 by meezcarrie in contemporary, cozy mystery, Daryl Wood Gerber, giveaway, mystery/suspense / 31 Comments

A Cookbook Nook Mystery #12

GENRE: Cozy Mystery
PUBLISHER: Beyond the Page Publishing
RELEASE DATE: April 25, 2023
PAGES: 318

In the cutthroat world of crossword solvers, Jenna Hart will have to decipher some puzzling clues to catch a killer . . .

The annual crossword puzzle contest has drawn contestants from near and far to Crystal Cove, and Jenna watches in amazement as puzzle-themed books fly off the shelves at the Cookbook Nook. Her aunt Vera is putting up a sizable cash prize, and no one is more surprised than Jenna to discover there’s bad blood between Vera and the prominent puzzle constructor who’s acting as master of ceremonies. And when the puzzle guru has his throat slit while he’s out hiking, the police instantly peg Aunt Vera as the culprit.

Jenna can’t stand by and watch her aunt take the fall. It’s been clear since the victim arrived that he had contentious relationships with a number of the contestants—even going so far as to steal puzzles from some of them and claim them as his own—and Jenna’s certain one of them is the killer. Trading puzzle solving for crime solving, she sorts through the convoluted clues and cryptic suspects, hoping to nab the guilty party before they decide she’s a problem they’ll solve with another murder . . .

Includes mouthwatering recipes!

Other Books I’ve Featured In This Series


I’ve sadly missed a few books in this series, since the last one I read, but it was easy to pick up Poaching is Puzzling without feeling like I was missing anything. Daryl Wood Gerber immediately immerses you back  – or for the first time – into the world of Jenna, Aunt Vera and the Cookbook Nook. Just like with Sifting Through Clues, I really loved the concept of this bookstore that’s all about cookbooks, culinary fiction, and food (as further evidenced by the yummy Nook Cafe next door). Jenna is a great protagonist who draws you in and engages your attention, and the whole ensemble cast of supporting players are equally endearing.

In Poaching is Puzzling, the author combines this fun bookstore with something else I love – crossword puzzles! It was fun to see some tongue-in-cheek references to the most overused crossword clues/answers, and I had to chuckle because for the most part the reason I even know those words at all is thanks to doing puzzles lol. In fact, Daryl Wood Gerber does a great job here of finding a balance between honoring & respecting the crossword puzzle world and also not taking itself too seriously. The words and definitions that begin each chapter added to the overall atmosphere of the book too, though the elevated vocabulary of so many of the puzzlers did get a bit tedious before it was over. For instance, I don’t know many people who use the word cruciverbalist in everyday conversation but it came up a lot in this book.

The mystery is its own puzzle to be solved, of course, and the parallels between solving this murder & creating a crossword puzzle were not lost on me as I read the book. The true culprit was indeed on my radar but so were almost half a dozen other suspects, and sometimes it did feel like realizing one of the intersecting words you’ve filled in must be wrong because those letters are just not adding up. The author is definitely skilled at crafting a plot that keeps readers guessing, and I had fun trying to solve it along with Jenna – especially with Aunt Vera being under the microscope in this one!

Bottom Line: Poaching is Puzzling by Daryl Wood Gerber is an enjoyable addition to this popular cozy mystery series! Not only will it test your sleuthing skills and hone your vocabulary, but it will also whet your appetite for the delicious food served up on its pages. A bevy of cookbooks will cross your path too … and may even end up in your Amazon cart before it’s over. Charming and entertaining, this is another must-read from this author!

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)

My Rating: 4 stars / loved it!

Reviewer’s Note: Readers of this blog may want to be aware that there is the mention and use of tarot cards by characters in this book.

affiliate links used

Agatha Award–winning and nationally bestselling author Daryl Wood Gerber is the author of the Cookbook Nook Mysteries, the Fairy Garden Mysteries, the French Bistro Mysteries, the Cheese Shop Mysteries (as Avery Aames), the Aspen Adams Novels of Suspense, and two other stand-alone suspense thrillers. Little known facts about Daryl are that she’s jumped out of a perfectly good airplane, has hitchhiked around Ireland by herself, and has appeared on an episode of Murder, She Wrote. She loves to read, cook, and golf, and has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky who keeps her in line!

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What about you? What makes you want to read Poaching is Puzzling by Daryl Wood Gerber?

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31 responses to “Book Review (and a Giveaway!): Poaching is Puzzling by Daryl Wood Gerber

  1. Roxanne C.

    I enjoy crossword puzzles and cozy mysteries, but I never imagined combining them. Love the cover!

    • Daryl Wood Gerber

      Roxanne, I love crosswords. I do them every day. Sometimes twice a day. It was only a matter of time before I put one of these tournaments in a book. 🙂 ~ Daryl

  2. Nancy

    I would like to read Poaching is Puzzling by Daryl Wood Gerber because I have read other books in that series and enjoyed them.

  3. Anne

    This cozy sounds unique and delightful. I have read this author’s different series and enjoyed them greatly.

    • Daryl Wood Gerber

      Anne, I’m thrilled to hear you’ve read others. That brings a smile to my face. My goal is to entertain. ~ Daryl

  4. Daryl Wood Gerber

    Carrie, thanks for the terrific review. I’m so thrilled you enjoyed the story and play on words. I had a blast writing it. ~ Daryl

  5. Deborah D

    I have not read any of tour books yet. This book sounds really great. Definitely getting your books from the library.

  6. Donamae Kutska

    I’ve read some of your other books and know this one will be interesting as well. Puzzles are intriguing.

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