Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
It is my pleasure to feature
Hard Dough Homicide by Olivia Matthews today.
Hard Dough Homicide: A Spice Isle Bakery Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – New York
St. Martin’s Paperbacks (May 23, 2023)
Mass Market Paperback : 304 pages
ISBN-10 : 1250839068
ISBN-13 : 978-1250839060
Kindle ASIN : B0B8X394C6
Someone in Brooklyn’s Little Caribbean neighborhood has an appetite for murder in Olivia Matthews’ Hard Dough Homicide.
Spice Isle Bakery owner Lyndsay Murray is always looking for new ways to grow her family’s business. But she already regrets agreeing to host the retirement dinner for local high school principal Emily Smith. The tyrant used to be her mother’s boss and they did not get along. Six guests arrive for the celebration, but only five survive. Emily starts convulsing—right after eating the curry chicken—and dies soon after. It’s not long before the police are knocking on Spice Isle’s door, bringing the Murray family back into the heart of another murder investigation—driving away customers in the process. Lyndsay can’t help but wonder if this is the end of the bakery, even though it’s just begun. She must put aside her reservations about investigating another crime, because the Murrays refuse to go down without a fight.
The newly opened Spice Isle Bakery has weathered one murder investigation and the last thing they need is another.
After declining to cater a retirement dinner for Lyndsay’s mother’s awful former boss several times, Lyndsay finally quoted an astronomical price hoping they will finally move on to someone else. She is shocked when the woman’s assistant accepts and signs the contract. The guests arrive and appear to be as unhappy to be there as Lyndsey and her family are unhappy to host the event.
Dinner is served and within moments the guest of honor is dead – right after taking a bite of the curry chicken. Soon the police are collecting all the food and questioning Lyndsay and her family. They decide Lyndsay’s mom is their prime suspect which frightens away most of the bakery’s customers. Lyndsay knows to save her mother and their business she has to solve the mystery of who killed the mean high school principal and fast.
The Murray family is close-knit, all owning the bakery with Lyndsay owning the majority because it was her dream. Her parents do most of the baking and cooking while her grandmother helps Lyndsay serve the customers. She also helps out in the kitchen and is giving Lyndsay baking tutorials to help her bake all the restaurant’s specialties. Her brother takes time from his job of being a lawyer to help out wherever he can. He’s also very involved when police target his family. All the characters have grown since the first book. I really appreciate learning about their culture and how family means everything to them. The way they start every day in prayer before opening the bakery’s doors is heartwarming.
I really enjoy the setting of Brooklyn’s Little Caribbean neighborhood. The Murrays have a lot of support with the exception of a certain committee. I admired the way Lyndsay handled the situation with that committee. She also was more assertive when it came to dealing with a certain detective. The Lyndsay at the start of the first book would have acted much differently.
Knowing the wonderful Murray family had nothing to do with high school principal Emily Smith’s death leaves the table of guests as suspects and they all appear to have motive, means, and opportunity. The victim was cruel to everyone, but who would have the nerve to kill her? It was great the way the whole extended family comes together to talk over theories and work through ways to get to the truth. Some are kinda crazy but everyone’s heart is in the right place. I had fun trying to solve the mystery myself but I was led astray and focused in the wrong direction. I loved the reveal and showdown. Lyndsay was in fine form. I wanted to reach into the book and give her a high five.
Hard Dough Homicide is a strong character-driven cozy mystery. I enjoy the way Ms. Matthews tells a story. The theme is fresh, the characters are interesting and entertaining. She uses humor in all the right places and there may be a romance, even a triangle, on the horizon. I am looking forward to visiting the Murrays and the Spice Isle Bakery again soon. Coconut Drop Dead is set to be released in December.
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About the Author
OLIVIA MATTHEWS, pen name for romance author Patricia Sargeant, is a national bestselling and award-winning author. The Spice Isle Bakery mysteries are inspired by the author’s family history and the history of her birthplace. As Olivia Matthews, she is also the author of the Sister Lou mysteries and Peach Coast Library mysteries, and writes romance as Patricia Sargeant and Regina Hart.
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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.”