A Doomful of Sugar (Maple Syrup Mysteries)
1st in Series
Setting – Vermont
Poisoned Pen Press (October 25, 2022)
Mass Market Paperback : 336 pages
ISBN-10 : 1728253934
ISBN-13 : 978-1728253930
Kindle ASIN : B09QW3FYWV
First in the new Maple Syrup cozy mystery series from USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bruns.
There’s nothing sweet about murder…
Leila Khoury has always believed that everyone loved her father as much as they loved his artisanal maple syrup. But when he’s killed, and she returns to Sugar Ridge, Vermont to take over his business, she starts to realize how much of his life she’s left untapped.
With her brother under suspicion, her mother just barely holding it together, and the police not producing any leads, Leila will have to investigate herself if she wants answers about her father’s sticky end. But the more she learns, the more she worries that there won’t be a sappy ending to the story.
Leila Khoury has returned to Sugar Ridge, Vermont following her father’s death to take the helm of his maple syrup business. Inheriting the place was a huge surprise especially because she was living in Florida now. But until his murderer is caught she finds herself in one sticky situation after another as she tries to tap the killer herself. The more she investigates she finds she didn’t know her dad as well as she thought she did. The police have her brother high on their suspect list while she thinks her father’s employees deserve a good look. She may have a lot to learn about making maple syrup but she knows even less about investigating a murder but that’s not going to stop her from bottling up whoever took her dad away from her way too soon.
Ms. Bruns introduces the characters at a very vulnerable time in this first Maple Syrup Mystery. Losing a parent or a spouse is hard but learning that Victor Khoury has been murdered is brutal. Leila had always been close to her dad while her brother Simon was close to their mom. Simon had other issues when his dad died making their relationship complicated. Leila and her mother are like oil and water and that is why she moved to Florida. They argued all the time and when a marriage arranged by her mother with her friend didn’t take place she just needed to get away from her mother’s accusations. Now that she is home without her father as a buffer and taking over Sappy Endings things could get complicated. We have to remember these 3 characters are grieving and we truly have just scratched the surface of their development. The author has set them up well for the continuation of the series.
Several supporting characters were introduced too. Leila’s friend Heather Turcot, Noah Rivers and Jessica Fowler who are employees of Sappy Endings, Victor’s attorney Theo Martin and the Chief of Police Alan Crosby. All played strong parts in this story and for the most part believably.
The mystery was very well plotted with Leila as an awkward amateur sleuth being led by her grief and lack of experience. She is passionate about finding her father’s killer and acts before thinking things through putting herself and others in danger. A startling moment adds another body to the count. There was a relatively small pool of suspects but there are some interesting twists that set up a surprising reveal. You could have pushed me over with a feather as the final twist shook everything up.
There is the start of a romance within the pages but I hope the couple pumps the breaks because I think it is developing too fast. I like a little slower pace in a cozy mystery.
The book is full of tasty descriptions of both maple treats (recipes at the end of the story) along with some Mediterranean dishes too. We also learned a little bit about making syrup. I do have a friend who taps trees and makes his own syrup on a much smaller scale, so I am excited to learn more right along with Leila.
I found the gathering at the end very heartwarming. The set-up for the next book when Sappy Endings gets a new employee has me very excited for Book 2. I see many more sticky situations for Leila and another dead body or two. Not the new employee though.
Catherine Bruns has started her new series off to a fine start. A Doomful of Sugar has an appealing theme, characters I want to get to know better, and is set in a place I would love to visit.
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About the Author
Catherine Bruns is a USA Today bestselling author of several mystery novels. She has a B.A. in both English and Performing Arts and is a former newspaper reporter and press-release writer. In her spare time, she loves to bake, read, and attend live-theater performances. She lives in Upstate New York with an all-male household that consists of her very patient husband, three sons, and several spoiled pets.
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