Murder is a Piece of Cake By V.M. Burns: Review/Giveaway/Recipe

Aug 19, 2023 | 2023 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Food Fun, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Cynthia Chow & V.M. Burns

This week we have a review of the latest Baker Street Mystery by V.M. Burns, along with a fun summer recipe from V.M. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book and link to purchase it–you may not be able to see the Amazon links if you have ad blocker on.

Murder is a Piece of Cake: A Baker Street Mystery by V.M. Burns
Review by Cynthia Chow

After inheriting her great-aunt Octavia’s house, bakery, and 250-pound English mastiff Baby, Maddy Montgomery has been using her social media skills to promote Baby Cakes Bakery to the Southwest Michigan town of New Bison. Live-streaming her filled-with-mishaps attempts to cook have gained her a growing following, but she’s really looking forward to the New Bison Spring Festival where she and her employees can not only showcase their creations but also compete in the baking competition. It’s also a chance to celebrate Baby Cakes’ reopening after post-arson renovations, but casting a cloud on Maddy’s plans is wealthy businessman Clayton Jefferson Davenport. Announcing that he plans to open a bakery nearby to compete against Baby Cakes, he offers to buy Maddy out as the tiny town can’t support two bakeries. Reacting with the same impulsiveness that led her to New Bison in the first place (getting engaged to a doctor and unfortunately live-streaming her being left at the altar), Maddy bets that her cakes will beat out his professional chefs in a competition, with the loser leaving town for good. While it’s a bit of luck that CJ gets himself murdered before the actual contest, it’s less than ideal that he’s stabbed to death by a Baby Cakes knife.

While Maddy would seem to be the obvious suspect, it’s Sheriff April Johnson who takes center stage as the possible culprit when she reveals that CJ is her estranged husband. April kept this a secret from her friends out of shame, having left her toxic spouse when he attempted to use his former beauty queen wife as currency in a business deal. With April suspended from the case and confined to desk duty, narrow-minded Michigan State Trooper Bob Roberts takes over and focuses his investigation entirely on April and Maddy. Trooper Bob believes that the women either committed the murder independently or conspired together, so Maddy decides to begin her own investigation along with the help of her late great-aunt’s friends, the Baker Street Irregulars. CJ had incensed more than just a few before he fatally departed the tiny town of 2000, including threatening a widow’s inheritance by bringing in a woman claiming to be the more recent wife. Maddy definitely has her hands full as she juggles the murder investigation with her mastiff’s lovelorn-induced depression, not to mention preparing for the arrival of her father, U.S. Navy Admiral Jefferson Augustus Montgomery.

This second in the series continues to charm with its blend of comfort food cooking, enthusiastic canines, and quirky Michigan residents. Maddy continues to hashtag her life on social media, and her relationship with Army veteran and veterinarian Michael Portman has only grown stronger. Readers’ heartstrings will be pulled by his caregiving relationship with his grandmother Hannah, a Baby Cakes baker who has been showing more signs of dementia. Maddy herself is as empathetic as she is impulsive, and it’s the latter that often leads her into trouble when she feels the former. Delicious recipes that combine her peanut butter twist on Aunt Octavia’s Chocolate Soul Cake will delight foodies, while the engaging characters and witty dialogue entertains cozy mystery fans. The prolific Valerie “VM” Burns is a skilled writer who reliably delivers laughs, twisty plots, and extremely compelling mysteries.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

A Summer Favorite: Quick and Easy Lemon Meringue Pie
By V.M. Burns

V.M. Burns

It’s summer and that means it’s hot! Still, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to eat dessert. However, instead of spending large amounts of time in a hot kitchen, I love recipes with no (or low) baking. There’s nothing more refreshing than lemon. So, this easy Lemon Meringue Pie recipe is one of my summer favorites. It does require a bit of baking, but it’s not much and well worth it to get the nice brown meringue peaks. For this and more great recipes, check out Murder is a Piece of Cake.

• 8-inch graham cracker piecrust
• 1/2 cup lemon juice
• 1 can Eagle Brand condensed milk
• 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
• 3 eggs, separated
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Combine condensed milk, lemon juice, lemon rind, and egg yolks in a large mixing bowl and stir until the mixture thickens.
3. Pour into piecrust and place in the oven to warm while you make the meringue.
4. Add cream of tartar and vanilla to egg whites and beat until almost stiff enough to hold a peak.
5. Add sugar gradually, beating until stiff and glossy but not dry.
6. Remove the pie from the oven and pile the meringue onto the pie filling.
7. Bake at 350 degrees F until meringue is lightly browned (approximately 15 minutes).

To enter to win a copy of Murder is a Piece of Cake, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “cake” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen August 26, 2023. You must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode goes up next week.

You can use this link to purchase the book. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the Amazon link. You can also click here to purchase the book.

Valerie (V. M.) Burns is an Agatha, Anthony, Edgar, and Next Generation Award finalist. She is the author of five cozy mystery series and is a mentor in the Writing Popular Fiction MFA Program at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. The pie sounds yummy. Murder By Cake sounds really good. I love the cover! Thank you for the chance!

  2. Food is my favorite mystery theme and I already enjoy her Mystery Bookshop series. Been wanting to try out this new one.

  3. Sounds interesting! Count me in!

  4. I really enjoyed the description of the book. Looking forward to reading it.

  5. I have seen this book before and it’s on my TBR list. I’d love to win. Thank you for the chance. aprilbluetx at yahoo dot com

  6. We have a winner!


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