Monday, October 24, 2016

The Crepes of Wrath (A Pancake House Mystery)

Author:  Sarah Fox
Genre:  Mystery

Alibi Publishing (Random House)
257 Pages
$3.99 Amazon
August 16, 2016

Five Stars

When Marley McKinney's aging cousin, Jimmy, is hospitalized with pneumonia, she agrees to help run his pancake house while he recovers.  With its rustic interior and syrupy scent, the Flip Side Pancake House is just as she pictured it - and the surly chef is a wizard with crepes.  Marley expects to spend a leisurely week or two in Wildwood Cove, the quaint, coastal community where she used to spend her summers, but then Cousin Jimmy is found murdered, sprawled on the rocks beneath a nearby cliff.

After she stumbles across evidence of stolen goods in Jimmy's workshop, Marley is determined to find out what's really going on in the not-so-quiet town of Wildwood Cove.  With help from her childhood crush and her adopted cat, Flapjack, Marley sinks her teeth into the investigation.  But if she's not careful, she's going to get burned by a killer who's only interested in serving up trouble.


Marley McKinney has taken a leave of absence from her job as a legal assistant in Seattle in order to help out her cousin Jimmy in the seaside town of Wildwood Cove on the California coast while he is hospitalized with pneumonia.  She's running his restaurant, The Flip Side, and staying in his home.  When Jimmy decides he's had enough and checks himself out of the hospital, Marley thinks her temporary vacation is almost at an end.  But what's really at an end is Jimmy, whose body is found on the rocks near his home, and when it's discovered that he's been murdered, she won't be heading back to Seattle as soon as she expected.

She also finds a local hanging around Jimmy's workshop and chases him away.  Investigating the workshop, she finds evidence of stolen goods and calls the local sheriff, who informs her that Jimmy could have been involved in the rash of thefts in the area.  Marley, refusing to believe it, decides that she's going to find out the true culprit and clear her late cousin of any wrongdoing.

But what she doesn't expect is that her long ago summer crush would still be living in Wildwood Cove, single, and still obviously interested in her.  She's also stunned when she discovers that she's Jimmy's heir, and everything he owned now belongs to her.  While still processing this information, and trying to decide what her future holds, her present includes two things:  find Jimmy's killer and find out who is really behind the thefts.  But not knowing much about the locals after all these years, she's not finding it easy to do, and soon discovers someone is trying to make sure she leaves one way or another...

I can't tell you how delightful I found this book.  In this first in a new series, Ms. Fox has given us a protagonist that is intelligent and doesn't decide to go snooping around and generally being annoying.  Everything she learns - which is quite a bit - she shares with the sheriff, instead of trying to solve the murder on her own and ending up in sorry situations.  Sheriff Ray Georgeson, for his part, is neither a bumbling idiot nor a mean-spirited man who treats Marley like he's indulging a child.  He listens to her when she tells him something that might be a lead, checks it out, and seems truly concerned about wanting her to be safe.  In other words, he's what a sheriff should be: taking every piece of information, no matter how small, and checking to see whether it's relevant or not. Just these two alone make the book worth reading.

We watch Marley as she agonizes about going back to her safe life in Seattle, her reasons for wanting to do so, and what she plans on doing with her newfound legacy.    But there is also the added character of Brett Collins, the man who'd like to be more than a friend to Marley; her mother, who is neither meddling nor a fool; and Ivan, the tattooed surly chef at The Flip Side.  The book is also peppered with others (some nice and some not-so-nice) that I look forward to learning more about as well as those I have already named.

When the book is finished and we discover the murderer and the reasons for it, everything comes together nicely and leaves us wanting more.  This is truly a feel-good read, and I believe that Ms. Fox has indeed a winner in this series, and I hope to see many more books and revisit the inhabitants of Wildwood Cove soon.  Highly recommended.

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