Friday, March 20, 2015

Meet Your Baker (A Bakeshop Mystery #1)

Author:  Ellie Alexander
Genre:  Mystery

Three Stars

After graduating from culinary school, Juliet Capshaw returns to her quaint hometown of Ashland, Oregon, to heal a broken heart and help her mom at the family bakery.  The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is bringing in lots of tourists looking for some crumpets to go with their heroic couplets.  But when one of Torte's customers turns up dead, there's much ado about murder;;;

The victim is Nancy Hudson, the festival's newest board member.  A modern-day Lady Macbeth, Nancy has given more than a few actors and artists enough reasons to kill her...but still.  The silver lining?  Jules's high school sweetheart, Thomas, is the investigator on the case.  His flirtations are as delicious as ever, and Jules can't help but want to have her cake and eat it too.  But will she have her just desserts?  Murder might be bad for business, but love is the sweetest treat of all...


Juliet "Jules" Capshaw used to work as a pastry chef for a cruise line.  But a blowup with her husband, Carlos, made her leave and hurry home to Oregon, back to spend time with her mother and help run the family's bakeshop, Torte.

While visiting with a friend she knew from long ago, Caroline, an actress in the Shakespeare company, Nancy Hudson enters the shop and starts making snide, backhanded compliments to both Caroline and Jules.  Immediately pegging her as a troublemaker, Jules can't wait for her to leave.  

When Nancy is found one morning dead in the kitchen of the shop by Jules, she calls on her friend, Thomas; who now is a police detective, to come and sort things out.  Soon Jules finds out that there really isn't anyone in town who liked the woman, and many had a valid reason not to.  So she starts investigating on her own - the woman was found dead in her shop, after all - and what she finds isn't pleasant, nor is it easy to digest, as Jules wonderful creations are.

I started off reading this book, hoping it was as delightful as the blurb on the back proclaimed it to be.  But I found that while it could have indeed been interesting, too many things just seemed not to grab my attention.  First, we are told - in bits and pieces spanning several chapters - why she left Carlos, an executive chef on the cruise line.  I had believed it to be (and I'm probably not the only one) that he had had an affair.  I was wrong,  I thought, that's it?  The reason she left seemed to me to be something they could have sat down and talked about.  It wasn't dire; it wasn't anything that should have split up over.  Yes, it was a shock, yes, it was tragic.  But it wasn't marriage-ending by any rate.  Especially if she loved him as much as she says she does.  I could get in a huge discussion about this, but I can't, lest I give away too much.  Just my opinion...

There are also things said and implied about her relationship with Thomas, but this left me wondering as to why?  Just why?  Another thing that bothered me is that she's convinced she knows who the killer is - every time.  What do I mean by that?  The fact that she accuses practically everyone she comes in contact with of being the killer.  Really?  Why would the police even listen to her anymore?  First she decides it's this person, then it's that person.  And the last is the fact that Jules herself seems so - remote.  It's like she just walks through life, not enjoying it at all.  Most protagonists have a quality about them where you can empathize with what is happening, but not Jules.  You don't feel as if you've gotten to "know" her.  

In the end, it was a pleasant, if not enticing, read.  Decent enough plot, but Jules has a lot of things she needs to figure out if she's going to be an interesting character.  Since it is the author's first book, I am assuming it is a learning process, I will read the second in this series to see if the next book is better.  I hope you do, too.

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