Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Kneaded to Death (A Bread Shop Mystery)

Author:  Winnie Archer
Genre:  Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Ebook
ISBN #"  9781496707727
Kensington Publishing
352 Pages
February 28, 2017

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Struggling photographer Ivy Culpepper has lots of soul-searching to do since returning to seaside Santa Sofia, California.  That is, until the thirty-six-year-old enters a bread making class at Yeast of Eden.  Whether it's the aroma of fresh conchas in the oven, or her instant connection with owner Olaya Solis, Ivy just knows the missing ingredients in her life are hidden among the secrets of Olaya's bakery...

But Ivy's spirits crumble when a missing classmate is suddenly discovered dead in her car.  Even more devastating, the prime suspect is Olaya Solis herself.  Doubting the woman could commit such a crime, Ivy embarks on a murder investigation of her own to prove her innocence and seize the real killer.  As she follows a deadly trail of crumbs around town, Ivy must trust her gut like never before - or someone else could be toast!

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When her mother is killed in a hit-and-run accident, Ivy Culpepper returns from Austin, Texas to the small California town where she grew up.  She's having a hard time getting a handle on her grief, so she takes a bread baking class to somewhat ease her pain.

On the first day of class one of the students - Jackie Makers - rushes in late, takes a phone call and rushes out again just as quickly.  When the bakers hear an argument outside, they are drawn to it and Ivy discovers to her dismay that one of the people involved is her high school boyfriend Miguel Batista, and it seems he's also returned to town after leaving abruptly after graduation.  But when Jackie doesn't return to class it's not long before they find her in her car - dead.

What she doesn't count on is that Miguel would also bring with him the ability to confuse her feelings still, nor that she would be drawn into a nasty neighborhood dispute over historic homes.  But the big thing she discovers is that her mother's accident may have been no accident at all...and that the killer may very well have been the same one who killed Jackie...

I did like the idea of Ivy taking a bread making class to cope with her grief, and the recipes sound delicious, but I didn't really feel a connection with any of the characters.  While she supposedly has a history with Miguel, and her brother Billy has a hankering for police officer Emmaline (and she for him), I didn't sense the chemistry between any of the characters.  In fact, the only real chemistry came between Ivy and Penny Branford, an elderly widow who knew her mother and befriends her and becomes a sort-of partner in Ivy's investigations.

However, while I enjoyed the mystery,  I felt that it was wrapped up very quickly, not giving the reader time to decide whether they cared what happened one way or another, due in part to the fact that a character who should have been a big part of the mystery was only in a few pages altogether.  Since this is the first in a new series, a lot can be done with it, and the writing itself is very good; plus the recipes in the back are a nice bonus.  I hope that in the next book we will learn more about Ivy (other than her grieving process) and I look forward to reading more about Santa Sofia, its inhabitants, and of course, Yeast of Eden; a place I imagine all of us bakers would love to spend time in.  Recommended.

https://www.amazon.com/Kneaded-Death-Bread-Shop-Mystery/dp/1496707729/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1863966009

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