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By Cook or by Crook

(A Five-Ingredient Mystery #1)

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  707 ratings  ·  118 reviews
Take one burned-out city girl. Add a crusty codger, a dash of romance, and a twist of humor. Stir in a generous helping of murder, and you’ve got the ingredients for one truly delicious mystery ...

Haunted by the car accident that ended her career as a cookbook publicist, Val Deniston has traded in the chaos of New York City for a quieter life near the Chesapeake Bay.
Paperback, 310 pages
Published November 4th 2014 by Kensington
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Average rating 3.56  · 
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 ·  707 ratings  ·  118 reviews

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Carla Johnson-Hicks
Aug 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cozy-mystery
This is the first book in "A Five-Ingredient Mystery Series". The protaganist, Val Deniston has lost her job as a publicist for cookbooks and chefs after a serious car accident, so she has come home to Chesapeake Bay. She has been asked by her mother to assist her grandfather in fixing up his old Colonial House so that he can sell it. She gets a job as the manager of the Cool Down Cafe at the local tennis club. Managing the cafe and playing on the local tennis team, Val quickly gets to know a ...more
Mark Baker
Mar 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, 2016
Val Deniston is hoping to turn her gig at the athletic club snack bar into a catering gig, but when she shows up to meet with Nadia, she finds the woman stabbed on her kitchen floor. With the police focusing on Val’s cousin, she needs to sort through the suspects and find out who had the perfect recipe for murder.

What intrigued me the most about this book was the five refrain, I knew there would be five suspects and five clues. I was wondering how the author would pull it off without having to
Likeable first in series.

And I like the idea behind "five ingredients": her grandfather wants to learn how to cook, but thinks that anything with more than five ingredients is too complicated!
Laura Thomas
Sep 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
With tennis, vying for manager of the Cool Down Cafe, and trying to sell real estate, there are some pretty serious competitions going on in this book.

That’s what makes this such a fun mystery.

When one of the woman from the local tennis club is found murdered, there’s also an unsolved hit-and -run, and some arson going on and it may all tie together, or not.

I bet Val didn’t expect to be helping the police with a murder when she left New York City behind to move in with her grumpy grandfather in
Jul 08, 2016 rated it did not like it
OK, I did not finish this book. I could only manage about 1/3 before I finally had to give up on it; my little kobo reader could not have survived me throwing it across the room so I had to put the book down to save the reader.

The book is ridiculous.
Monique: 'Oh, I admitted to committing a crime and then - gasp! - the police treated me like a criminal!'.
Val's friend: 'Well, given that we are a baker and teacher, we must be better equipped than the law enforcement personnel who have
Jessica Robbins
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
For complete review check out my blog at https://booksaplentybookreviews.blogs...
Maureen DeLuca
Jul 13, 2019 rated it liked it
2.5 - As far as cozies goes- this wasn't one of my favorites. I'm not sure if I will take book number 2 out or not...
Clare O'Beara
Jul 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: america-crime
If I liked tennis I'm sure I would have been more fascinated by this mystery, which centres on a tennis club and local players. Of course, not all the suspects play tennis, so there will be a fair assortment for everyone. The central character Val has lost her job producing publicity for cookbooks and chefs, so she has come home to Chesapeake Bay. Her aim should probably be to get a job but she doesn't do much of that; too busy sleuthing after a local estate agent is killed. That's real estate ...more
Val Deniston has returned to her hometown by the Chesapeake Bay after a break-up with her fiance and a dangerous car accident got her fired from her job as a cookbook publisher. Now living with her Granddad in his old Victorian home, Val owns a cafe at a fitness club and hopes to write her own cookbook. When one of the ladies in her tennis club is accused of having an affair with Val's cousin Monique's husband, it leads to nasty gossip and a shocking crime that Val is witness to. The next time ...more
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book had been part of my physical TBR pile for a couple of years now, and I completely enjoyed what I read! It was hard to put down. I just loved Val's Granddad--sure, he's a grump sometimes and a curmudgeon, but he's the lovable type of curmudgeon. It's pretty clear that he's crazy about his granddaughter and in no hurry for her to go back to New York. A lot of people had secrets in this book, but what Nadia knew turned out being worth killing for, at least to the murderer. I didn't guess ...more
Sep 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2014

Dollycas’s Thoughts

The number 5 is the key here.

5 ingredient recipes
5 suspects
5 key clues

Maya Corrigan is off to an excellent start with this mystery! Val Deniston is a great character with a tragic past. She is trying to get on with her life but is haunted with nightmares of the night when a car accident changed her life. She thought coming to Bayport would make things easier but a recent murder that has her best friend pegged at the prime suspect has her remembering that fateful night again
Jun 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Just finished this new cozy mystery, first in the series of Five Ingredient Mysteries. I enjoyed reading this one, more than I expected. The cover drew me in…I know, I’m shallow, but the idea of 5-ingredient recipes is not, on its own, a big draw for me. The protagonist, Val, has crashed and burned from her big city life as a cookbook publicist and has arrived at her grandfather’s home, ostensibly to get the house packed up, sold, and him moved, but really to work on her own cookbook and find ...more
Oct 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: goodreads-win
Goodreads Paperback Win

What happens when a burnt out city girl with a snippy grandfather funds herself in the middle of a budding romance? She finds herself in the middle of a set of murders when she finds the dead body of a local realtor at her home.
Meet Val Deniston who is haunted by a car accident that she cannot remember the details of how it happened and the demise of her cookbook publicist career. She moves to the quiet life of the Chesapeake from the bustle of New York City trying to
Melissa I
Per Goodreads TOS: To explain why marked as read and 1 star to keep my Goddreads profile in good standing. This hasn't arrived along with about four others. Others I was really hoping to read, but I'm just going to put this one behind me as well. I did mark it as read so it's not seen as ignored by the Goodreads team, but I'm not including it into my challenge. Trying to be fair and honest for all parties involved.

Many thanks to Goodreads and the First Reads Program for this giveaway chance. It
Melissa Cochrill
Dec 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: own
I apparently read this book three years ago and didn’t remember it. I know why... The crabby grandpa was the best part! Val, the main character, just kept rehashing things in her mind. The police really didn’t discourage her from investigating. I’m also not sure why she was investigating. To protect her cousin that was never charged with anything? To avenge a woman she really wasn’t friends with?
Mar 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2015
Nope, didn't like this one. Skimmed lots of it just to finish it. Won't be reading further.
May 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cozy-mystery
An enjoyable first in a new series. The MC was well done and I really liked her grandfather. The recipes were fun and simple which is always good. I'd love to try some of them. I can't wait to read the next one. :)
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Corrigan's five-ingredient recipes are right up my alley. I love her quirky characters who get mixed up in a small-town murder on Maryland's Eastern Shore. This is a great summer read. I'm looking forward to reading the others in the series.
Jeanie Jackson
Although it took me a while to warm up to the story, I fell into it soon enough. Over time, I came to feel like I knew the characters and they mattered to me. Val's fairly recent move leaves plenty of opportunity for the relationships to evolve and looks like she is open to that. There were enough dramatic moments to balance the usual tedium of investigations. I did not like that fact that she locked onto one suspect and was less open to other ideas but we see that blindness in others books and ...more
Nov 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book started a little slow for me, but I soon got immersed in it and I couldn't put it down. I really liked Val's relationship with her grandfather, he really was an old codger sometimes. I enjoyed the setting of this novel also. I would have liked to have seen a better cast of characters in this story, it seemed a lot of the people in this small community had a lot to hide. I say great job Maya on a start to a great series. I look forward to more.

I received a complimentary copy of this
Aug 19, 2015 rated it liked it
I ended up liking the book AFTER the 2nd half--the 1st half was a character analysis of the main people in the story, motives were in place at the time but never mentioned again but a reader would at the end [near the end] remember. the book jacket mentioned "humor"-I never found it?! The "romantic" person set up for Val is strange and kinda unbelievable, let's hope book #2 clarifies.
Leslie aka StoreyBook Reviews
Nov 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-to-review, 2014
Enjoyed this first book in a new series with recipes that only have 5 kind of recipe!

I liked all of the characters and have to say the author throws out some great red herrings because I was going down another path on who the killer might be...honestly never guessed who it was.

I think this will be another great cozy series, so check it out.
Barbara Ross
Jun 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
On Maryland's Eastern Shore, crabs aren't the only thing being caught in aspiring cookbook author Val Deniston's net. Author Maya Corrigan's concept of Five Ingredients, Five Suspects, Five Clues fits this scrumptious culinary mystery like a five-fingered glove.
Jenni Schell
Apr 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What a great debut. I was hooked from beginning to end. And the recipes are fantastic. Keep it up.
Kay Garrett
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: want-to-read
BY COOK OR BY CROOK by Maya Corrigan is the first book in the A Five-Ingredient Mystery series.

After the break up with her cheating fiancée and being demoted to a menial job after a car accident incident, Val Deniston moved to Bayport where she lives with her grandfather and runs the Cool Down Café at the Bayport Fitness Club. She hopes to eventually work on a cookbook of her own instead of promoting professional chefs and their cookbooks as she did in New York.

After the very public display of
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful read about an ordinary woman that is suddenly thrust into a murder investigation

A great first book. Don't be put off by the tennis angle as it is really secondary to the plot and it could just as easily have been set in a Club House. A burning racket, a hit and run, a murder and several attempted ones are all skillfully woven into a plot that will have you guessing until the end. The heroine is just an ordinary person who displays all the normal behaviour of a non sleuth that has
Sammm [involuntarily somewhat on hiatus]
Oh man, I was going to rate this a 3 for probably 3.25, but I was satisfied when I finally saw the clues during ch. 26; I always feel a sense of accomplishment when it clicked, you know? My guess for the reasoning was off by a little, but at that point I don't think anyone would get the murderer wrong, just the motive lol. Anyways, I like that it still wasn't as straight forward as the conclusion I came up with, but at the same time making sense. For now it's a 4 for 3.75. No, I don't think it's ...more
Jun 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Val Deniston recently relocated from NYC to Chesapeake Bay, MD to live with her grandfather. Val is hoping to build up her resume by working at her tennis club's cafe, which gives her the flexibility to experiment with recipes and work on the cookbook she hopes to publish. Val gets sidetracked from her cookbook writing when she discovers the body of one of her tennis teammates and needs to solve the mystery before the police's prime suspect - her cousin - is arrested for the murder.

This is a
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not recommended

This was slow moving and quite frankly, boring. Takes too much time to set seen. She is, apparently quite fat phobic by what she says about others. As someone writing a food mystery how can you never have seen avocado or hearts of palm? Grandad is a particularly unlikable character. Anyway BORING!
Feb 01, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not bad

A decent first in series. A bit too many side crimes as a way to cloud the reveal of the murderer. Made for huge leaps in plotting. I figured out the murderer but the motive was a bit weak until a plot turnaround at the end. It wasn’t a twist more a out of the blue motive
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Maya Corrigan blends her love of food and detective stories in her Five-Ingredient Mystery series set in a fictional historic town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The first book in the series, By Cook or by Crook, was published in 2014. It was followed by Scam Chowder in 2015, Final Fonduein 2016, and The Tell-Tale Tarte in 2017.

Before taking up a life of crime (on the page), she taught university

Other books in the series

A Five-Ingredient Mystery (6 books)
  • Scam Chowder (A Five-Ingredient Mystery, #2)
  • Final Fondue (A Five-Ingredient Mystery #3)
  • The Tell-Tale Tarte (A Five-Ingredient Mystery #4)
  • S'more Murders (A Five-Ingredient Mystery #5)
  • Crypt Suzette
“She’d have to treat the interview more like risotto than instant rice, adding ingredients gradually while stirring gently.” 2 likes
“[Her] idea of a fair trade--her lentils for your caviar.” 2 likes
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