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.
“Readers will be shocked by this exciting, fast-paced thriller’s twists and turns.”
– Kirkus Reviews
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.
Publisher: Chucklin Inc.
Review Posted Online: March 27, 2017
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
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Severn House
Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 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
Page count: 304pp
Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023
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
Page count: 304pp
Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022
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
Page count: 304pp
Review Posted Online: April 13, 2021
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021
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
Page count: 304pp
Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020
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
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Crooked Lane
Review Posted Online: April 15, 2018
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018
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
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Crooked Lane
Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2017
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017
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
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