by Cynthia Chow & Sandra Murphy
This week we are once again playing catch up with some more fun food mysteries for your end of summer reading-A Catered Doggie Wedding: A Mystery with Recipes by Isis Crawford, Donut Disturb: A Bakeshop Mystery by Ellie Alexander, and Dairy, Dairy, Quite Contrary: A Sunflower Café Mystery by Amy Lillard. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of all 3 books and links to purchase them at the end of each review–you may not be able to see the Amazon links if you have ad blocker on.
A Catered Doggie Wedding: A Mystery with Recipes by Isis Crawford
Review by Sandra Murphy
Bernie and Libby have catered a lot of events besides running their café. However, when Googie, their employee, asks them to cater a wedding for Bertha and Ernie, it’s not their usual gig. Bertha and Ernie are golden retrievers.
Jenni wants her own business, a doggie day care. What better way to get publicity than to have the doggie wedding, complete with special treats for people and pets? She’s hired a florist, a photographer, workers are finishing the indoor space, and invitations have been sent. She expects about a hundred human guests. Plus dogs.
Jenni’s neighboring business belongs to Rachel who is over the top with her high-end fashions. She’s a non-stop complainer: the dogs will smell, they’ll be dirty, bark, and ruin the ambiance. Then threatening messages arrive for Bernie and Libby plus everyone else Jenni hired. Bernie and Libby also find four flattened tires—not just flat but slashed tires—someone else has key marks, and another finds a noose nailed to her front door.
Then things get serious. Jenni is called to her shop to meet the builder but finds his body in his car instead. By the time she finds a phone (hers went dead) and the police arrive, the car and body are gone. When he turns up a second time and she’s on the scene again, the police no longer think she’s just loonie. They think she’s loonie and a killer.
Bernie and Libby have helped solve murders before. After all, Sean, their dad, is a retired cop. Of course, they don’t have to follow the same rules he did which often lands them in hot water with the police. This case is a puzzler though, and it’s one they’re determined to solve—before the killer ups the ante from notes and flat tires to flying bullets.
This is book seventeen in the series. I enjoy Bernie and Libby. Bernie is a fashionista, daring, and smart mouthed. Libby is quieter, no fashion plate, and cautious, especially compared to Bernie. The good-natured squabbling and teasing between them rings true. Of course, reading about their work is bound to make you hungry. Luckily, they included recipes: Cold Cherry Soup, Poached Peaches with Sauce Cardinal and Crème Chantilly, Pears Poached in Red Wine, Wild Rice Salad, Mango, Avocado, and Shrimp Salad, and Soft Molasses Cookies. Be prepared to want to read all seventeen books. Have snacks on hand.
Donut Disturb: A Bakeshop Mystery by Ellie Alexander
Review by Cynthia Chow
The town of Ashland, Oregon, is thrilled to be ushering in the spring season with the wedding between Ashland Police Detectives Thomas Adams and Kerry Crosby. For the reception, Torte owner Juliet Montague Capshaw and her staff of baking a donut-themed wedding cake, a donut-shaped groom’s cake, and specialty donuts for the guests’ picnic baskets. Kerry comes to Jules with a particular bridal wish though; keep an eye out for Jamie Crosby, the father whom Kerry last knew to be in prison and, as far as she knew, should still be there. Kerry has spotted him in their Shakespearean-centric town, and she worries that he will force her to reveal a shameful history she thought she had put behind her. Nothing stays a secret long in their small theatrical though, so when the bassist for the wedding’s planned musical trio is found dead, the logical suspect is the convicted armed bank robber just out of prison.
Juliet and her friends plan to hide the death of the Heart String’s musician until the married couple depart for their honeymoon cruise, but they should have known better than to try to fool a pair of observant, professional detectives. Despite the failure of the Donut Ruin Her Wedding Day mission, Kerry and Thomas are able to depart, leaving the investigation in the very capable hands of the detective who also happens to be Juliet’s stepfather. That doesn’t mean that Kerry won’t also ask for Juliet’s assistance, who along with her friends have proven themselves to be alarmingly effective amateur detectives. So when she’s not creating absolutely mouth-watering cakes and pastries in her kitchen, Juliet investigates the remaining members of Heart Strings, a judge who may have violated her oaths and threatened the victim, and the bride’s ex-con father found holding bass strings while standing over the bassist’s body.
This fifteenth in the series welcomes readers back into the charming town of Ashland, Oregon, where the Oregon Shakespeare Festival theatre campus is the inspiration for the entire town. Attracting both tourists and new residents due its artistic community, Ashland appeals to those who are quirky, unique, and theatrical. Artistic director and Juliet’s best friend Lance Rousseau is enjoyably exuberant throughout their investigation, providing a surfeit of information from his connections and lack of filter when interrogating suspects. Since Juliet has made her staff and friends a part of her family, she is determined to solve the murder before Thomas and Kerry return and begin their new lives together. To calm her anxiety over the investigation Juliet retreats to the kitchen, where readers are able to luxuriate in the details of her butter-filled, intricate, sugary creations. Now that her husband Carlos has given up his career as a celebrated cruise chef and fully embraced life in Ashland, Juliet is ready to take the next step in building a family together. The possibility of Juliet, Carlos, and her parents taking a trip together to Europe opens up even more adventures, but this series is always at its best when it explores Ashland’s love of Shakespeare, the performing artists, and the wonderful creations of Juliet and her talented staff.
Dairy, Dairy, Quite Contrary: A Sunflower Café Mystery by Amy Lillard
Review by Cynthia Chow
The call from cousin Lizzy asking for help with the family’s Sunflower Café in Yoder, Kansas, couldn’t have come at a better time for Sissy Yoder. Having recently broken up with her boyfriend and out of the apartment they shared in Tulsa, the reporter and columnist was more than ready to return to her family’s town in the mostly Amish community. There’s a lot of Yoders in the town of Yoder, but not all of them are related to one another. After more than fifteen years away, Sissy barely recognizes the woman who actually is her aunt, and Aunt Bethel isn’t exactly eager to give up control of the Sunflower Café to an outsider despite the fact that she’s on a crutch while her part-time worker and daughter is about to give birth. Despite this, and not believing that Sissy’s teacup Yorkie Duke of York is an actual dog, Bethel reluctantly gives in to reality and accepts her non-Amish niece. Yoder isn’t as conservative as it used to be, and not being shunned allows Sissy to find a home in the tiny Chicken Coop B&B made out of an actual chicken coop. Sissy barely has a chance to settle in with local diner food and jargon before she discovers the body of the milkman Kevin Saunders in the storage room with a knife sticking out of his back.
Deputy Sheriff Earl Berry has an unwavering belief that Sissy’s arrival must be linked to Keven’s death, and it doesn’t help that the officer feels unjustly jilted by her mother for another Englishman. Feeling the need to return Yoder to its usual peaceful setting and completely unnerved by Earl Berry’s glare every morning at breakfast, Sissy decides to investigate why Kevin the Milkman met such a gruesome end. He wasn’t the only one with secrets, as the twenty-nine-year-old Sissy is the columnist known as Aunt Bess, a supposedly seventy-year-old grandmother of eight. Using her mother’s formerly-Amish wisdom, Sissy gives out wise advice while using that practical mindset for her own murder investigation. The deceased father of ten had connections that may have been more Family than just family, leading to motives involving gambling and possible money schemes simmering within the quiet community.
This first in the series introduces readers to a fun setting in a more contemporary Amish town that still adheres to its unique beliefs. While the Sunflower Café is fully electric and whipping out hearty Amish and diner delights, most of the homes are without Internet, television, or electrical lights. Aunt Bess’s aphorisms head most chapters, and while those may have been passed down to her from her maternal relatives, it’s Sissy’s perseverance and cleverness that lead her to the final solution. For readers whose familiarity with the Amish mostly stems from the movie Witness, this allows for a more updated and still fascinating glimpse into their society. Amish casseroles and hearty cheese-themed meals are just as tantalizing, but it’s the very likable and sprightly Sissy who becomes the star attraction. Hopefully more of the Aunt Bess aspect of her will be revealed in the next installment, along with additional time spent with Duke, cousin Lizzie, and the rest of the Sunflower Café staff.
To enter to win a copy of all 3 books, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “food catchup” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen August 20, 2022. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like. BE AWARE THAT IT MAY TAKE MUCH LONGER THAN USUAL FOR WINNERS TO GET THEIR BOOKS DUE TO THE CURRENT CRISIS.
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