Hardcover LP, paperback, E-book
ISBN #: 9781410485656; 9781496700179
$30.99; $7.99; $5.84 Kindle
December 29, 2015
The dog days of summer have arrived in the small town of Frog Ledge, Connecticut, and business is booming for Kristan "Stan" Connor. Her Pawsitively Organic pet food has even caught the attention of celebrity pastry chef Sheldon Allyn, who helps Stan open a fancy pet pastry shop in Frog Ledge. A partnership is born, and Sheldon invites Stan to Newport, Rhode Island, for an appreciation weekend he's hosting for all his independent chefs. But the gourmet getaway turns sour when one of the chefs turns up dead, and a second one goes missing...
As Stan tries to figure out who had a recipe for murder, the pool of suspects expands. And if she can't sniff out the culprit soon, this killer may just serve up a second helping of murder...
Stan Connor is a pet chef in the town of Frog Ledge, Connecticut. Her goods are so delicious that she is being sought after, and cooking in her kitchen is no longer going to be feasible. So she wants to open a brick-and-mortar store, but needs financial backing. That backing has unexpectedly appeared in the form of Sheldon Allyn, a celebrity chef known as "Mr. Pastry." He has asked Stan and her cat Nutty to a weekend getaway along with several other chefs in order that at the end of the weekend they can present a sit-down, five-course dinner for a group of investors. It turns out that Stan was invited because one of the investors has a cat that eats as well as humans, and so she must impress both owner and cat.
So Stan and the other chefs are led blindfolded to a secret location. But one of the chefs doesn't arrive with the others and no one seems to know where he is. Unfortunately, Stan soon finds him - dead on the beach. While trying to recover from the shock, she and the remaining chefs are told they will proceed as planned. Stan wants Sheldon's backing, so she agrees to go on. Since the home they were taken to is now a crime scene, Sheldon puts them up at a nearby upscale hotel, and they are told they will be using the hotel's 'secret kitchen' to prepare their meal. Unfortunately, the hotel is nearly full, and Stan will have to share a suite with Maria, one of the chefs who has developed an affinity for Nutty, and Therese, one of Sheldon's employees, who hasn't developed an affinity for anyone or anything.
But then another chef goes missing, and just when she wants to forget about the entire thing and go back home, her estranged sister calls her out of the blue and asks for her help. It seems Stan's sister Caitlyn has a problem - a big one - and needs Stan's assistance. Reluctantly she agrees, which means she'll need to stay with the other chefs a while longer - which could also mean that one of them is a murderer, and she doesn't know which one - it could even be one of her temporary roommates.
I really can't say anything else without giving too much away, but I will tell you that this is a great addition to the series. This time out, Stan thinks she is finally going to achieve her dream of a pet bakery, but when murder temporarily derails her plans, she realizes that even though she wants to stay out of the investigation, she is being pulled in. She misses her boyfriend Jake and wants to go home, but knows she can't. To make things worse, it gets to a point where she needs to ask Jake's state trooper sister Jessie for help; and she believes that her relationship with Jessie is tenuous at best, which makes it difficult.
But in this book Stan is beginning to figure things out and where she wants to be in life, and that's a good thing. I love the fact that she's progressing in her life and we're along for the journey. We learn a little more about her and a lot more about Jessie, who up until this book had been a closed soul. We get a sense that Stan is beginning to understand Jessie more as a person, not just as an officer of the law and Jake's sister.
When the murder is solved, and all is explained, you can't help but feel a bit of sadness for the person, and understand why they were driven to do what they did. Given the circumstances, they truly felt they had no other choice.
In the end, the book was a great read. The secondary characters were given enough to do that they weren't superfluous to the story, and that's always a plus. Stan is smart and doesn't make rash decisions, nor takes chances, which I like. Ms. Mugavero has added a delightful addition to the series and I look forward to the next. Highly recommended.
More on Liz Mugavero's books: http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/m/liz-mugavero/