#FlashbackFriday – Fruit Baskets and Holiday Caskets: A Down South Cafe Mystery by Gayle Leeson #Review / #Giveaway

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.

Fruit Baskets and Holiday Caskets: A Down South Cafe Mystery
Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Setting – Virginia
Publisher: Grace Abraham Publishing (September 10, 2020)
Paperback: 263 pages
ISBN-10: 1732019533
ISBN-13: 978-1732019539
Kindle ASIN: B08HDMF8KL

Christmas comes with chaos—and a murder—in the fifth book in the Down South Café cozy mystery series!

Amy Flowers thinks her biggest problem is going to be creating an enormous cake dummy to mount atop her car for Winter Garden’s upcoming Christmas parade. But when one of Roger’s employees is murdered, making the float is the least of Amy’s worries. Her childhood friend is a prime suspect, Aunt Bess is making a new Pinterest board: Things That’ll Probably Kill Me, and her boyfriend’s mother is insisting on helping Amy make three-hundred-seventy-five sugar cookies to hand out along the parade route.

When Amy starts trying to clear Roger of the murder, she unexpectedly finds herself involved in international intrigue. How will our favorite café owner outwit sophisticated criminals who want to deck the halls with her head?

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Winter Garden, Virginia is gearing up for the Christmas parade. With a little encouragement, a push, and a shove Amy Flowers decides to participate in the event. How hard can it be to make a huge dummy cake and attach it to the top of her VW Bug? A couple of people walking alongside giving out a treat or two and presto she’s in the parade. But a leak in the roof of “big house” where Amy’s mom and Aunt Bess reside and a dead workman push the parade float to the back burner. When a man she has known forever lands on the plate as the prime suspect Amy knows she has to help me. But this time Amy may no be able to serve up a new suspect, in fact, she may be putting herself on the chopping block.


First I have to say the cover of this book is GORGEOUS!

Second, this story had me laughing from the very first page where Henny Penny, I mean Aunt Bess is calling to say good-bye to all of friends and family. Thankfully rumors of her demise were very exaggerated. She is around to keep us giggling beyond the final page.

The characters in this series are some of my faves. Amy is the perfect protagonist because she is so nice and caring that people just open up to her and the good sheriff knows it as does her boyfriend Ryan. Ryan’s mother doesn’t seem to be a fan of Amy’s though but Amy is doing her best to change that. Aunt Bess is a hoot and Amy’s mother puts up with everything Bess dishes out. Amy’s cousin Jackie plays a big role this time and has a vested interest in catching the real culprit. Readers are also entertained by a variety of Winter Garden residents. Homer is a regular customer and I look forward to his arrival at the cafe each day as much as Amy and her crew. His Heroes quotes always seem to resonate with me.

“The events we bring upon ourselves, no matter how unpleasant, are necessary in order to learn what we have to learn, whatever steps we take, they’re necessary to reach the places we’ve chosen to go.”
~Novelist Richard Bach

I really enjoyed the mystery. There was a real backstory that took the case in a wild new direction. With nice twists and new suspects, Ms. Leeson has plotted an intriguing mystery.

As always when I read this series the yummy food descriptions start my stomach growling.

Fruit Baskets and Holiday Caskets was a real treat. It was funny, entertaining, and had a puzzling mystery to solve. Every book in this series are must-reads!

I am excited that the next book in this series is being released in just a few days on March 16. I will be featuring it on Cozy Wednesday, March 24.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

You can read my reviews of The Calamity Cafe here, of Silence of the Jams here, of Honey Baked Homicide here, and Apples and Alibis here.

About Gayle Leeson

About the Author

Gayle Leeson is a pseudonym for Gayle Trent. I also write as Amanda Lee. As Gayle Trent, I write the Daphne Martin Cake Mystery series and the Myrtle Crumb Mystery series. As Amanda Lee, I write the Embroidery Mystery series.

The Cake Decorating series features a heroine who is starting her life over in Southwest Virginia after a nasty divorce. The heroine, Daphne, has returned to her hometown of Brea Ridge to open a cake baking and decorating business and is wrestling with the question of whether or not one can go home again. She enjoys spending time with her sister, nephew, and niece, but she and her mother have a complicated relationship that isn’t always pleasant. Daphne has also reconnected with her high school sweetheart and is pursuing a rekindled romance while desperately trying to put her past behind her.

Kerry Vincent, Hall of Fame Sugar Artist, Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show Director, and Television Personality says the series is “a must read for cake bakers and anyone who has ever spent creative time in the kitchen!”

Says Dean Koontz, #1 New York Times bestselling author, “One day I found myself happily reading . . . mysteries by Gayle Trent. If she can win me over . . . she’s got a great future.”

The Embroidery Mystery series features a heroine who recently moved to the Oregon coast to open an embroidery specialty shop. Marcy Singer left her home in San Francisco, along with the humiliation of being left at the altar, in order to move to Tallulah Falls and realize her dream of owning her own shop. She takes along her faithful companion, a one-year-old Irish wolfhound named Angus O’Ruff. She makes many new friends in Tallulah Falls, but she also makes a few enemies. Thankfully, her best friend Sadie MacKenzie and her husband Blake run the coffeehouse right down the street from Marcy’s shop, the Seven-Year Stitch; and Detective Ted Nash always has her back.

Publishers Weekly says, “Fans of the genre will take kindly to Marcy, her Irish wolfhound, Angus O’Ruff, and Tallulah Falls. This is a fast, pleasant read with prose full of pop culture references and, of course, sharp needlework puns.”

Pat Cooper of RT Book Reviews says, “If her debut here is any indication, Lee’s new series is going to be fun, spunky and educational. She smoothly interweaves plot with her character’s personality and charm, while dropping tantalizing hints of stitching projects and their history. Marcy Singer is young, fun, sharp and likable. Readers will be looking forward to her future adventures.” (RT Book Reviews nominated The Quick and the Thread for a 2010 Book Reviewers’ Choice Award in the Amateur Sleuth category)

I live in Virginia with my family, which includes her own “Angus” who is not an Irish wolfhound but a Great Pyrenees who provides plenty of inspiration for the character of Mr. O’Ruff. I’m having a blast writing this new series!

Author Links – Webpage      Facebook      Twitter     Pinterest    Instagram

Also by Gayle Leeson


Writing as Gayle Trent



Writing as Amanda Lee



Just click on covers for more book information or to order from Amazon.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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