On Flashback Fridays I will share with you
the books I was not able to review
when they were first released that have been screaming at me
from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.
A Batter of Life and Death: A Bakeshop Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – Oregon
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks (June 30, 2015)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Kindle ASIN: B00QQ1GKRE
Welcome to Torte-a small-town family bakeshop where the coffee is hot, the muffins are fresh, and the cakes are definitely to die for…
It’s autumn in Ashland, Oregon-’tis the season for a spiced hot apple cider with a serving (or two) of Torte’s famous peach cobbler. It’s also the perfect time for Jules Capshaw to promote her family’s beloved bake shop by competing in The Pastry Channel’s reality show, Take the Cake. The prize is $25,000. But as Jules quickly learns, some people would kill for that kind of dough. Literally.
Then, just as Jules dusts off her Bavarian Chocolate Cake recipe and cinches up her apron, the corpse of a fellow contestant is discovered-death by buttercream. What began as a fun, tasteful televised adventure has morphed into something of a true-crime detective show for Jules and everybody else on set. Who could have killed Chef Marco, and why? Can Jules sift out the killer before someone else gets burned?
Can Jules Capshaw Take the Cake? The Pastry Channel’s show has come to Ashland, Oregon and she is representing the family’s bakeshop, Torte, as a contestant against four other pastry chefs. Her family sure could use the $25000 prize to continue their improvements to their business.
Jules has baked a Bavarian Chocolate Cake for the day’s challenge but when she arrives on the set she finds one of the competing chefs dead. The powers that be commit to continuing the show as soon as the police release the set, but Jules wants to know – Who killed the chef? Are the rest of the chefs in danger? and most importantly – Is one of the chefs the killer? She starts doing a little snooping on her own to find answers before another chef gets frosted.
Ms. Alexander’s characters are so likable. Jules, her mom, their employees, Thomas, the Professor, and more all make me wish I could visit Torte and meet them all. All are genuine and believable. They are joined this time by a group of pastry chefs that are diverse in their specialties along with the small crew from The Pastry Channel who each have something to prove. All these new visitors are viable suspects and seem to have secrets. I liked that some of the chefs ended using Torte’s kitchen to create their show entries. It allowed both Jules and us readers to get to know them better. It also made clear how patient Jules and mom, Helen could be with strangers in their kitchen. They also handled a little strife between two employees with time and patience.
Readers are treated to a little romance too, as relationships evolve through normal everyday life. Jules is still trying to sort things through will Carlos as the clock ticks down on their break.
I love watching shows like Take the Cake so I was thrilled with this theme. The author created a marvelous whodunit around that theme giving Jules plenty of opportunity to sift through the clues and follow them as need be. Several twists spin to keep everyone guessing. With Helen and Jules’ tight connection to the chief of police, aka, The Professor and Detective-In-Training, Thomas, they keep them informed in everything they find and don’t hesitate to call for help when needed. I like that.
I can’t forget to mention the food. Most of the luscious pastries and desserts. I say most because there are a couple that clearly were not baked by the chef that presented them. Daily life at the bakeshop also adds more delightful treats and morning breakfast ideas. The schedule and the workings of the shop are also interesting. The realistic fact it is a hard business on a tight budget is also appreciated and grounds the whole series in reality.
Awesome characters, a fantastic setting, and a wonderful mystery all make A Batter of Life and Death a delectable cozy mystery and A Perfect Escape. The sample taste of On Thin Icing included at the end of the story has whet my appetite to read more of this series soon.
About the Author
Ellie Alexander (aka Kate Dyer-Seeley), author of the Bakeshop Mystery Series (St. Martin’s Press), is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research.
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*This book was from my personal collection.