cover image The Secret Ingredient Murders: A Eugenia Potter Mystery

The Secret Ingredient Murders: A Eugenia Potter Mystery

Nancy Pickard. Delacorte Press, $22.95 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-385-31227-1

Fans of the late Virginia Rich's Eugenia Potter series (The Nantucket Diet Murders, etc.) will be pleased to learn that Genia is back, cooking and sleuthing up a storm in the coastal town of Devon, R.I., where she's come for the summer to help various needy family members, notably teenage great-nephew Jason, who may be violating his probation agreement after a marijuana conviction. Genia plans to host a special dinner party with an old friend and town leader, Stanley Parker, at her rented cottage, but when someone bashes in Stanley's head, Jason, alas, is way up on the suspect list. Investigating on her own, Genia learns that many Devon locals might be more comfortable with Stanley dead. A second murder thickens the broth. While the plot lacks suspense and the secondary characters tend to be caricatures (the flamboyant alcoholic, the devoted swain, etc.), Edgar Award-nominee Pickard, author of the Jenny Cain series, provides mouth-watering descriptions of such Rhode Island specialties as doughnuts and gingerbread, along with recipes for culinary delicacies like ginger carrot soup and lobster bisque. (The appealing cover art shows a lobster steaming in a pot on a stove.) A neat surprise ending is also a plus. Readers will be left licking their lips in anticipation of the next book in this savory series. (Jan. 9) FYI: After collaborating with Virginia Rich on one Eugenia Potter mystery, The 27-Ingredient Chili con Carne Murders, Pickard has continued the series on her own.