by Cynthia Chow
& Winnie Archer
This week we have a review of another fun food mystery, Crust No One, by Winnie Archer. We also have a fun food guest post by Winnie. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Crust No One, and a link to purchase it from Amazon and an indie bookstore where a portion goes to help support KRL.
Crust No One: A Bread Shop Mystery By Winnie Archer
Review by Cynthia Chow
It took the death of her mother to finally bring Ivy Culpepper back to Santa Sofia, California, but that tragedy led to her finally feeling she was home. A professional photographer, Ivy has also found delight working in the Yeast of Eden bakery, under the tutelage of master magical baker Olaya Solis. The uncharacteristic disappearance of the produce delivery man Mustache Hank Rivera calls to Ivy’s third unexpected talent, that of a sleuthing, part-time Nancy Drew.
While Ivy’s best friend Deputy Sheriff Emmaline Davis has no actual evidence to conduct a Missing Persons investigation, few would argue that Mustache Hank’s actions are normal. Those in the minority include his ex-wife as well as his old high school girlfriend, both of whom blame the other for his leaving town. Feeling responsible to take some action considering that the authorities do not, Ivy looks into his disappearance with no little instigation from octogenarian Penny Branford. One of the four friends Ivy nicknames the Blackbird Ladies – due to the pin on their hats – Mrs. Branford’s long career made her a teacher for nearly everyone in Santa Sofia, meaning that she knows their families, their struggles, and whether they may have gotten a little too far in over their heads.
In this second of the series, Ivy very reasonably and sensibly pursues her professions as baker/photographer/sleuth. She and Mrs. Branford never intrude too far into any actual police investigation, instead meeting and questioning Mustache Hanks friends as a part of being caring, if somewhat nosy, neighbors. Taking promotional pictures for Baptista’s restaurant brings Ivy’s photography skills into play, but it also places her once again in the orbit of her ex-boyfriend Miguel Baptista. They’ve never discussed the reasons he abruptly left town – and Ivy – following their high school graduation, and it remains an uncomfortable barrier between them.
What cozy readers will delight in are the descriptions of baking as Yeast of Eden prepares for the Winter Wonderland Festival, and these tasty details lighten and enliven the novel as it delves into far more somber themes. The conclusion is more than satisfying, leaving readers just as anxious to see what the future holds for Ivy and her friends. This is a novel that veers into unexpected directions while providing the right amount of warm sentiments, strong protagonist, and hints of romance.
Behind the Scenes Crust No One
by Winnie Archer
Crust No One is the second installment in The Bread Shop Mysteries. The first book, Kneaded to Death, introduced Ivy Culpepper to the world. At thirty-six, she had returned to her hometown of Santa Sofia and was promptly wrapped up in a murder investigation. Crust No One takes Ivy into a new investigation when “Mustache” Hank, a local produce man, goes missing.
Let me take a minute to tell you about Santa Sofia. It’s a fictional small seaside town, which is sort of a cross between Santa Barbara and Aptos. It is a place I’d love to live! Of course, it’s right off the Pacific Coast Highway, there’s a pier with typical beachy businesses, as well as Baptista’s Cantina and Grill, owned by Miguel Baptist (Ivy’s love interest). In the heart of the quaint town is Yeast of Eden, the local artisan bread shop. If I lived in Santa Sofia, Yeast of Eden is a place where I’d spend an awful lot of my time. The owner of the bread shop is Olaya Solis. Bread is her passion. And once Ivy Culpepper moves back home, the bread shop becomes a home away from home for her.
And then there’s Penelope Branford. She’s spunky. She has a love of velour lounge suits in every color. She’s eighty-six. And she’s Ivy’s neighbor and partner-in-investigation.
Ivy, Olaya, and Mrs. Branford = my three favorite ladies!
In fiction, it’s the details that bring a place alive. Olaya is from Mexico, which many people don’t know has a very rich tradition of bread. She brings elements of the Mexican culture into the bread shop in little ways, including the sugar skull cookies she bakes. But she doesn’t sell the sugar skull cookies; she hides them amidst the loaves and croissants and rolls. When a kid comes in and spots one of the “easter eggs,” Olaya gives it to the child. It’s a little something special she does for them, and it celebrates her culture.
If you haven’t had a sugar skull cookie (sometimes referenced as Day of the Dead), check out this video. It is truly artwork.
Bread, bread, and more bread. Can there ever be enough bread? I would venture to say…NO!
To enter to win a copy of Crust No One, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “crust,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen January 27, 2018. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section.
Use this link to purchase the book & a portion goes to help support KRL & indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy:
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