Daryl Wood Gerber

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John Talbot, Talbot Fortune Agency


I have always loved reading mystery, suspense, and thrillers. There's just something about the puzzle and the chase! Though I'm known for my cozy mysteries (see below), I am very excited to venture into the world of suspense with my debut novel, GIRL ON THE RUN. I write the bestselling Cookbook Nook Mysteries. I also write the bestselling Cheese Shop Mysteries under the pen name Avery Aames. Fun tidbit: as an actress, which I did pre-writing, I appeared in “Murder, She Wrote”. In addition, I have jumped out of a perfectly good airplane and hitchhiked around Ireland by myself. I absolutely adore Lake Tahoe, where GIRL ON THE RUN is set, and I have a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky.



BY Daryl Wood Gerber

A history professor is reunited with his long-lost mother shortly before her murder in Gerber’s (Grilling the Subject, 2016, etc.) mystery-thriller.

Weyford University professor and former U.S. Navy lieutenant Chase Day is understandably shocked when he receives a call from his mother, Sybil Day, whom he thought had died in a fire more than three decades earlier. But he recognizes her voice and, upon her request, drives to the trailer where they once lived. There, he finds Sybil on the floor, bloody and barely alive; Chase tussles with her apparent assailant, who gets away. Sybil manages to utter only a few last words before she dies, asking Chase to save Luther, the father he never knew. When police don’t believe Chase’s story of what happened, he becomes determined to find his dad and stop Sybil’s killer on his own. He starts at Keystone Hospital, where Sybil had once been a patient. Chase believes that Luther was likely a resident there as well, so he searches patient files to find men who’d recently left. Soon, he finds that strangers are following him, and it becomes clear that Luther stole an item decades ago that people desperately want. Gerber’s tale is so densely packed with mysteries that it’s easy to see why Chase is often paranoid. Untrustworthy characters are in abundance: it turns out that Chase’s grandmother Barbie, for example, has been lying to him for years. The frantic plot will keep readers on edge; at one point, Chase assumes the worst when a friend and fellow professor simply doesn’t answer his phone. Gerber does, however, imbue the narrative with humor on occasion, as when Chase equates a stoic nurse in a mental institution with the antagonist from One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The final act is heavily explanatory but convincing, and it wisely doesn’t linger on the aforementioned, much-desired item for too long.

A savvy and energetic whodunit.

Pub Date:

Publisher: Chucklin Inc.

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2017



BY Daryl Wood Gerber • POSTED ON Jan. 2, 2024

A college dean in New Orleans is frantic when her son suddenly drops off the radar.

Maggie Lawson’s son is a college senior. Even when Aiden lost his girlfriend in a hit-and-run and then suddenly married Celine Boudreaux, her best friend, he’s been good about keeping in touch—until now. First he seems to be ghosting his mother by barely answering her texts. When Maggie’s ex-husband, an investigative reporter, is shot, Aiden is a no-show. Meanwhile, Maggie is facing pressures at work, including several unreasonable parents and a sexual harassment suit against a coach. Her best friend, Gina, is trying to keep her grounded, but Maggie has a very bad feeling about Aiden’s sudden silence. Growing ever more desperate, she talks to Celine, with whom she has a cool relationship. After making excuses, Celine finally admits that Aiden’s left her, and she has no idea where he is. Although Maggie had to cut the couple off financially because her house flooded and she has to pay to keep her mother in a care home, she doesn’t think that’s the problem. So she sets out to talk to Aiden’s friends, the people at the digital design company where he’s interning, and college contacts who might know his whereabouts. Maggie’s dad was an LAPD veteran, and she attended the police academy before dropping out, so she has some connections in the New Orleans Police Department. But it’s hard to get people concerned about a missing adult. Have family problems made her into a helicopter mother? So be it: Maggie decides she has to investigate herself if she’s to find her beloved son.

New Orleans is a perfect setting for the mixed bag of motives in this page-turner.

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781448312542

Page count: 224pp

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023



BY Daryl Wood Gerber • POSTED ON March 28, 2023

The California fairies pitch in to solve a murder case involving their human friends.

Courtney Kelly is just beginning her workday when her best friend, Meaghan Brownie, arrives with fire in her eyes. Furious with her artist ex-boyfriend Nicolas Buley, who keeps texting her, Meaghan needs calming down. So Courtney, who’s busy making large potted fairy gardens for wealthy Violet Vickers and teaching several classes on making fairy doors and smaller fairy gardens, does her best to soothe Meaghan. Although not everyone in Carmel can see fairies, many of the locals are trying to attract them by hook or by crook. After Nicolas gets into a verbal altercation with fellow artist Hunter Hock and gallery owner Ziggy Foxx and is found murdered in Meaghan’s yard, Courtney’s friends are high on the suspect list. Although Det. Dylan Summers makes it plain he needs no help from Courtney, she and her fairy friend Fiona still investigate when Ziggy is arrested. Courtney learns that Nicolas has left a trail of broken hearts, and his volatile temper has made him plenty of enemies, including his own brother, who claims Nicolas owed him a great deal of money. But which of these enemies went so far as to kill him?

Plenty of suspects, gardening tips, and fairy lore combine for a sweet treat.

Pub Date: March 28, 2023

ISBN: 9781496741271

Page count: 304pp

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023



BY Daryl Wood Gerber • POSTED ON June 28, 2022

A shop owner in enchanting Carmel-by-the Sea investigates yet another murder with otherworldly help.

Courtney Kelly owns Open Your Imagination, a shop that specializes in all things fairy. She’s well known for both her fairy gardens and her lessons in how to make them. When trust-fund baby Misty Dawn hires Courtney to throw a fairy-themed birthday party in her backyard for her friend Odine Oates, it seems like a fun and lucrative deal. Most of the guests are sorority sisters of Misty and her special guest, actress Farrah Lawson, whose past with some members of the group has been fraught. Courtney enlists some of her besties to help with decorations, games, and food, the last provided by her romantic interest, Brady Cash. At a spa party to which Misty invites Courtney, Farrah goes ballistic when a wax treatment by Twyla Waterman nearly ruins her eyebrows. So when Farrah’s found dead, Twyla’s an obvious suspect. Although Courtney, with some assistance from Fiona, her mischievous resident fairy-in-training, has already helped solve a number of murders, neither Detective Dylan Summers nor Courtney’s father, a former police officer, wants her involved. Ignoring their wishes, Courtney digs into Farrah’s background and uses Fiona’s ability to overhear conversations to identify some alternate suspects.

A charming cozy with gardening tips, recipes, and a raft of suspects for those who don’t believe in fairies.

Pub Date: June 28, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-49673-604-8

Page count: 304pp

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022



BY Daryl Wood Gerber • POSTED ON June 29, 2021

A tale of perseverance, murder, and a sprinkling of magic in California.

Courtney Kelly is the owner of Open Your Imagination, where she uses her background in landscaping to help customers create inventive fairy gardens. Carmel-by-the-Sea is a delightfully artsy town, but Courtney saw its dark side when she solved a murder with help from Fiona, a fairy-in-training who lives in her shop. Among the roses of her friends and clients is one thorn: Lana Lamar, art critic and fanatic pickleball player. Lana uses her wealth to bulldoze anyone who gets in her way, so it’s no surprise when she ends up dead at a high-end fundraiser. Unfortunately, the woman found clutching the murder weapon is Wanda Brownie, mother of Meaghan, Courtney’s bestie. Wanda’s apparently sleepwalking, but that doesn’t keep her from being arrested by Detective Summers, who’s not a fan of Courtney’s sleuthing. Ignoring him, she slowly works her way through the alibis and motives of a diverse group of people who cordially hated Lana, including her husband, a trainer at the gym where she was pickleball champ, and a woman whose husband was killed in an accident she caused. Courtney’s secret weapon is Fiona, who can eavesdrop and enlist other fairies to help track down a killer.

Even readers who aren’t tempted to create a fairy garden may be enticed by the recipes appended to this appealing cozy.

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4967-2636-0

Page count: 304pp

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021



BY Daryl Wood Gerber • POSTED ON June 30, 2020

When the owner of a nearby shop is killed in Courtney Kelly's fairy garden store, she must join forces with her fairy friend to solve the crime.

Courtney, the proprietor of the Open Your Imagination fairy garden store, doesn’t just believe that fairies are real; she has proof to share. Her store is home to Fiona, a mischievous fairy who's in a sort of remedial fairy-in-training program to get her adult wings. Apparently her propensity for pranks in fairy school has obliged her to demonstrate to the queen fairy that she’s serious about her do-gooding duties. When Courtney becomes a suspect in the murder of Mick Watkins, the owner of the Wizard of Paws grooming salon, it seems like the perfect time for Fiona to give Courtney an assist that the queen fairy will notice. If Courtney’s innocent, though, who’s to blame? When Courtney and Fiona begin to investigate, they find many too many suspects, from Mick’s wife, Emily, who’s angry about his recent affair, to Mick and Courtney’s landlord, who wanted Mick’s business out. In this old-fashioned cozy, the whos and whys won’t be a surprise. Nor will the 25 pages of appended recipes, which complement the fairy focus of the story with some serious calories.

Fairies flutter throughout the first in this by-the-book series.

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4967-2634-6

Page count: 304pp

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020



BY Daryl Wood Gerber • POSTED ON July 10, 2018

When a festival of sweets is imperiled by the murder of its organizer, the owner of the host restaurant investigates to clear her chef of the crime.

Mimi Rousseau may have bitten off more than she can chew when she offered Maison Rousseau, her Napa Valley restaurant, as a site for the new Sweet Treats Festival. She’s relieved that she can rely on her executive chef, Camille Chabot, known informally as Chef C, to helm the kitchen while Camille’s sister, Renee Wells, runs the festival. Though Mimi knows Renee only through Camille, she trusts her chef, and Renee seems to have a real handle on supervising all the goings-on the Sweet Treats Festival entails. The only one who’s not so sure about Renee is Allie O’Malley, who regrets selling the festival to Renee and wants a cut of the profits. Renee isn’t sympathetic about Allie’s bad business decision and isn’t afraid to gloat. Allie may get the last laugh, however, after Chef C discovers that someone’s killed Renee. The town’s shocked to be the scene of yet another murder (A Deadly Éclair, 2018, etc.), and Mimi’s determined to clear Chef C of the crime even if her sleuthing implicates Allie or uncovers more enemies of Renee. Concentrating on what happened to Renee is the perfect distraction for Mimi, who’s afraid to scrutinize her feelings for Nash Hawke, who may be trying to get closer than she’s ready for.

Spicing the mix with an impressive 14 recipes, from Autumn Quiche to Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies, Gerber balances a beautiful setting with a predictable but enjoyable cozy plot.

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68331-586-5

Page count: 336pp

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018



BY Daryl Wood Gerber • POSTED ON Nov. 7, 2017

Wedding plans go awry with the death of a treasured relative.

With the help of entrepreneur Bryan Baker, Mimi Rousseau owns Bistro Rousseau and Maison Rousseau, a charming inn in the Napa Valley. Now that Bryan’s encouraged her to spread her wings even further, she’s hosting the destination wedding of his niece, talk show host Angelica Barrington, to Lyle Ives, who manages his family’s high-end jewelry store in LA. Cracks soon appear in the joyful celebration. Lyle’s father, David, and his sister, Paula, both express doubts about the marriage. So does Angelica’s father, Edison, a problem gambler who arrives at the pre-wedding dinner drunk. When Bryan’s body is found with an éclair stuffed in his mouth and gems scattered nearby, Mimi’s old friend Sgt. Tyson Daly catches the case. Things look bad for Mimi, whose cellphone is found on the scene. And they get worse: a letter from Bryan absolving her of debt for the bistro and inn upon his death is discovered among his papers. Although Tyson keeps telling her to butt out, Mimi knows she has a better chance than the police of worming secrets out of all the other suspects. Much to Edison’s distress, Angelica inherits Bryan’s estate, and when she and Lyle marry, Mimi wonders if Lyle is after her money. Fortunately, everyone on Mimi’s loyal staff is willing to help her out, and she’s comforted by a new romantic interest: hunky wine expert Nash Hawkes , a recent divorcé whose gorgeous ex-wife seems understandably reluctant to let him go. Although Mimi’s questions apparently get too personal for someone, the threatening warnings she receives don’t deter her from continuing her search for the killer.

On the evidence here, Gerber, who writes several other series (Day of Secrets, 2016, etc.), has aimed this new one at foodies who’ll appreciate the cooking lore and appended recipes enough to overlook the unremarkable mystery.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68331-341-0

Page count: 352pp

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

Girl on the Run Cover

Girl on the Run

BY Daryl Wood Gerber • POSTED ON April 9, 2016

Gerber (Fudging the Books, 2015, etc.) offers a dark suspense novel filled with desperation and cat-and-mouse games.

Chessa Paxton is keeping it together but only just. On the one hand, she has a wonderful husband, Zach, a blossoming career as a costume designer, and a beautiful Lake Tahoe home. On the other, she must contend with her controlling, conniving stepfather; the fact of her biological father’s incarceration; and the trauma of her mother’s death a year ago. But when Zach is murdered, she has to marshal all her considerable skill and resilience. She was drugged the night of his death and can recall only flashes of what happened; most of the events are a blur of blood, terror, and fairy-tale characters, because the murder took place after a charity costume ball that Chessa had organized. With no one to trust, she has nothing but her wits, her fragmented memories, and her costuming skills to keep her one step ahead of the savvy Detective Newman and the people who killed her husband and framed her. Soon she must uncover the secrets behind Zach’s false passports, her mother’s death, and her father’s alleged crimes. Gerber keeps the tension high from the beginning, and Chessa’s confusion becomes more and more relatable as the narration proceeds. For example, when police begin to consider Chessa the prime suspect, it’s easy to understand her tunnel-vision determination, and when she flees the crime scene in terror, it seems like the only choice she could make. Overall, the novel’s plot is thick, and the prose is more than rich enough to sustain it. Its shifting perspectives will give readers an even greater sense of excitement as the many pieces of the puzzle fall into place.

Readers will be shocked by this exciting, fast-paced thriller’s twists and turns.

Pub Date: April 9, 2016

Page count: 332pp

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2016

Girl on the Run Trailer


Final Sentence

In need of a change, Jenna Hart leaves the high-pressure world of advertising to help her aunt Vera open a culinary bookshop and café. Back with her family in Crystal Cove, California, Jenna seems to have all the right ingredients for a fresh start—until someone adds a dash of murder. As a marketing expert, Jenna wants to make sure the grand opening of the Cookbook Nook draws a crowd, and no one is better at getting attention than her old college roommate, celebrity chef Desiree Divine. But when Desiree arrives in quiet Crystal Cove to do a cookbook signing, the diva stirs up more trouble than business…especially when she turns up dead. Known for stealing husbands and burning bridges, Desiree left behind plenty of suspects—including Jenna. Though the celebrity’s life always appeared to be an open book, Jenna will have to read between the lines in order to clear her name, and catch a killer before another body is served cold.
Published: July 1, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-425-25804-0

fudging the books

The Agatha Award–winning author of Stirring the Plot returns to the Cookbook Nook in Crystal Cove, California, where February brings Pirate Week, National Chocolate Month—and bitter murder… Pirate Week is sweeping through Crystal Cove and keeping Jenna Hart and her bookstore, the Cookbook Nook, plenty busy. But she’s not too swamped to also host the local Chocolate Cookbook Club’s meeting—especially because the guest of honor is her friend, candy maker and cookbook author Coco Chastain. Jenna whips up a delicious event amidst the rowdy festivities, but the mood is soon broken by robberies, simmering tempers, and a dead body—Coco’s editor, Alison. The suspects turn out to be more plentiful than a pot full of gold doubloons, so to prove Coco isn’t responsible for the dastardly deed, Jenna will have to stir up some clues and figure out who’s the real sticky-fingered killer…

grilling the Subject

Where there’s smoke... As the Wild West Extravaganza rides into Crystal Cove, California, Cookbook Nook store owner Jenna Hart is ready to indulge her appetite for grilled and barbecued treats and maybe even take in a horse or stagecoach race. But when the body of one of her father’s neighbors is found the next morning smoldering in a bonfire, the rodeo revelry is extinguished. Sylvia Gump acquired plenty of enemies with her practice of illegally encroaching on her neighbors’ properties—including Jenna’s dad, who was off fishing by himself and has no alibi for the murder. Now it’s up to Cary Hart’s dutiful daughter to clear his name before the real killer turns up the heat and rakes someone else over the coals...

Inherit the Word

Jenna Hart moved back to Crystal Cove, California, with the intention to relax and help her aunt, Vera, run the local culinary bookshop and café. But it’s hard to follow a simple recipe for relaxation when murder gets thrown in the mix… The Cookbook Nook is set to host the town’s upcoming Grill Fest, a tasty tradition which pits local amateur chefs against one another to concoct the most delicious dishes. This year’s challenge: Grilled Cheese. But with competing chefs bearing grudges from past years, more mouths are running off than salivating. The expression “too many cooks” proves all too true when the eight-time champ is found murdered in the alley behind the café. Soon a local diner owner (and Jenna’s “second mother”) is suspected of bumping off the competition, and Jenna has to douse the flames before the wrong person gets burned…


Halloween in Crystal Cove, California, is a big deal, involving a spooky soiree where the Winsome Witches, a fund-raising group, gather to open up their purse strings and trade superstitions. But party magicians, fortune-tellers, and herbalists are only the beginning of this recipe for disaster… Jenna Hart has packed The Cookbook Nook chock-full of everything from ghostly texts to witchy potions in anticipation of the annual fund-raiser luncheon. But there’s one unexpected addition to the menu: murder. When the Head Priestess of the Winsome Witches is found dead under mysterious circumstances, there’s no logical answer and plenty of blame to go around. With her aunt, Vera, unable to call on her ability to foresee the future, Jenna will have to use more than just sleight of hand and a few magic tricks to conjure up the truth…
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