Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am delighted to share my thoughts today
about A Half-Baked Murder by Emily George.
A Half-Baked Murder (Cannabis Café Mysteries)
1st in Series
Setting – California
Kensington Cozies (February 21, 2023)
Paperback : 304 pages
ISBN-10 : 1496740483
ISBN-13 : 978-1496740489
Formally trained pastry chef Chloe Barnes is opening a cannabis bakery. That’s not at all what the twenty-eight-year-old envisioned while living the dream in Paris with a hot fiancé and a Michelin-star restaurant gig around the corner. But the rising “it girl” of choux puffs rethinks everything after a scathing food review and humiliating breakup make her long for home in sunny California. When her beloved grandmother falls ill, Chloe returns to quaint Azalea Bay to start over in the most satisfying way possible—concocting delicious edibles with her quirky Aunt Dawn.
Combining French luxury and THC, Baked by Chloe will take pot brownies to another level. That is until a creepy past acquaintance rehashes old drama and shockingly turns up dead—landing Aunt Dawn as the number one murder suspect. Now, alongside her closest confidants, a stunned Chloe must alternate between budding entrepreneur and amateur sleuth to clear her aunt’s name, open the best bakery in town, and weed out the real culprit from a list of unsettling suspects!
After her life in Paris falls apart pastry chef Chloe Barnes returns to Azalea Bay, California. Her grandmother has just been diagnosed with cancer and is beginning chemo treatments so Chloe is happy to be coming home to take care of her and all the side effects chemo brings.
She does have to find a way to support herself, thinking maybe she can work at her friend’s B&B but her Aunt Dawn has another idea. She wants to partner with Chloe and open up a Cannabis Café. Baked by Chloe will challenge the pastry chef to use her training to create luscious baked goods enriched with THC. She will not be baking just any pot brownies, her creations will be amazing. Plus she knows her pastries will help cancer patients like her grandmother and others dealing with chronic pain and stress.
Getting her business off the ground doesn’t go as planned though. She runs into a horrible man she knew in high school who soon after is found dead and Aunt Dawn is the police’s top suspect. Now Chloe has to come up with a recipe to find a killer so she can clear her aunt of the crime while baking up delicious treats as she prepares to open her bakery. Hopefully, both she and Dawn are around for the grand opening.
Ms. George has created some strong characters for this series. and they develop very well over the course of this story. As a breast cancer survivor, I easily identified with Chloe’s Grandma Rose. I knew exactly the way she felt after chemo. Sadly, pot brownies are not legal here and they would never taste like Chloe’s.
Chloe was eleven we her mother left town, because motherhood “didn’t suit her”. She had never known her father. She grew up with her grandparents who gave her many pearls of wisdom. This quote was great, something I highlighted immediately in the text.
“Nobody is going to gift you the future you want, Chloe. It’s a house you must build yourself. Your grandfather and I will teach you how to mix cement and lay a strong foundation, but you’re responsible for turning a pile of bricks into a life.”
She also had her Aunt Dawn who never had children of her own and “dabbled in everything from tarot to tree-shaping to competitive duck herding.” Now she is into “dog-dancing”. I have said a lot of characters are a hoot, well Dawn is a hoot and a half. Quirky, lovable and the woman has a huge heart especially when it comes to her niece Chloe. The loved these characters have for each other is so heartwarming.
The author has also introduced a fresh theme featuring cannabis when making it legal is still a very controversial issue. She explains things clearly and the medicinal uses and relief it can provide. I appreciated the time she took and the way she presented it within the story. She also took the time to explain the process Chloe goes through to use cannabis in her recipes and the amounts used. A recipe for Cannabis-Infused Butter (Cannabutter) to be used for baking is included in the book.
The mystery she tangled her characters in was very well-plotted, and written with a very quick pace. The suspect was downright creepy and didn’t have many friends. There were plenty of people that could have killed him. I started to wonder how he survived as long as he did. Chloe worked hard to sort through all the clues but her quest was made even more difficult because her aunt was definitely hiding something. I did enjoy that Rose’s hunky next-door neighbor worked with Chloe to reveal a very important clue. That important clue leads to a very exciting ending. I was holding my breath as the pages flew.
A Half-Baked Murder is a fantastic debut for this series. The theme is unique. The characters are lovable and engaging. The mystery kept me guessing and the subplots were fun and interesting. I am so excited for this series to continue.
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About the Author
Emily George writes modern murder mysteries that feature her favorite F words: female friendships, family, and furry friends. She also likes alliteration. Like her sleuths, she’s an elder Millennial who grew up on a steady diet of late 90’s romantic comedies, Spice Girls songs, and Babysitter’s Club books. When she’s not figuring out creative ways to kill people (fictionally, of course) she enjoys knitting, baking, playing video games, and listening to true crime podcasts. She resides in Canada with her husband and can be found online at www.emily-george.com.
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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.”