Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Sprinkle with Murder (A Cupcake Bakery Mystery #1)

Author:  Jenn McKinlay
Genre:   Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Paperback (LP); Audio CD; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9780425233429; 9781410426222; 9781520060941
Berkley Publishing
240 Pages
$7.99; [Various Prices]; $34.19; $7.99 Amazon
March 2, 2010


Melanie Cooper and Angie DeLaura are finally living out their dream as the proud owners of the Fairy Tale Cupcakes bakery.  But their first big client is a nightmare.  She's a bridezilla who wants 500 custom cupcakes for her wedding.

When Mel stumbles upon the bride-to-be dead-by-cupcake, she becomes the prime suspect.  To save themselves and their business, the ladies need to find the real murderer before the cupcake killer ices someone else.


Melanie Cooper is realizing her dream.  She's recently opened a cupcake bakery with her friends Angie DeLaura and Tate Harper.  Angie quit her job as a teacher to work in the restaurant, and Tate funded it.  Since they've known each other since middle school, they're pretty close, and always want each to be happy.

But both Mel and Angie are in a conundrum.  Tate's getting married, and they can't stand the bride-to-be.  Christie Stevens is a fashion designer and the worst bridezilla that anyone's ever heard of.  When Tate insists that they have Mel make their wedding cake (consisting of cupcakes, naturally), Christie shows up for the meeting late.  Then she insists that Mel make five different flavors - five new flavors that have never been done, and expects her to sign a lengthy agreement.  One that gives Christie full ownership of the flavors - which means that Mel can never make them again.  Ever.  Bristling at the thought that she's going to put a lot of work into this, she has Angie's brother Joe, who is an assistant district attorney, look over the agreement, but he finds it ironclad.

Not wanting to upset Tate, she does as she's asked, and turns the box of sweets over to two of Christie's assistants.  She then goes to Christie's shop the next day and finds her dead on the floor, with one of the cupcakes in her hand.  Now she's suspected of poisoning Christie to get rid of her, and Mel knows this is going to be a nightmare.

But how much so she's not prepared for.  To top it off, she has a rival baker driving by her shop several times daily, and the police are looking at Tate also, using the old tale of a love triangle gone wrong.  It doesn't help that her deluded mother thinks she's in love with Tate and might be guilty.  So Mel does the only thing she can - she sets out to discover who wanted Christie dead - but finds out that nearly everyone she's talked with is guilty of that.  So who did the deed?  And will she find out in time to save her business?

For the most part, I enjoyed reading this book.  The story line is interesting in that it's not only Mel who's being affected by the murder, but the people closest to her - her friends Angie and Tate.  Mel and Angie are as different as day and night; and while Angie has a hot temper, Mel is more level-headed and still has body issues which are put forth from time to time.

There's an easy camaraderie between the three, and none of them will believe the others capable of such a heinous crime.  Still, eventually secrets will come out, and they invariably do, and while it doesn't change their attachment to one another, it does change them in other ways.  It also doesn't help that Mel is having feelings about Joe, even when there's time she wants him to just go away and leave her alone.

While I knew the murderer the minute the person stepped onto the page (I read a lot of these), it didn't keep me from enjoying the book one whit; however, what I didn't like was the fact that  it seemed the women in the book to be lacking in character.  Angie is quick with her fists; Mel's mother is deluded on Mel's love life and thinks her capable of murder; a rival business owner is as nasty as they come; etc.  It doesn't portray any woman in a favorable light, including Mel's aforementioned self-esteem issues.

Also, Christie's father did something truly reprehensible and there was no comeuppance - not even an apology; and Mel should have, at the very least, gotten a restraining order against the rival business owner.  Unfortunately, neither of these things happened in this book, but maybe they will in the next.

I likewise didn't understand why Mel didn't sit her mother down and have it out with her.  She didn't get angry that her mom thought she was capable of murder, and she could have (if she tried)  convinced her mom that she wasn't romantically interested in Tate.  But she basically just shrugged her shoulders and allowed her mom to be deluded.  (Maybe if she had convinced her that she didn't love Tate, her mom might not have believed her capable of murder?)  My conclusion is that Mel's self-esteem has been battered so hard by her past she's afraid that her mom won't love her if she yells at her or demands she listens.  It's a rather co-dependent relationship - and that's not good for anyone.

When the ending comes it might not have been a nail-biting climax, and it was a bit funny to boot, but still was a refreshing way to catch a killer.  All in all, not a bad start to a new series, and I will probably read the next, because while it wasn't a thought-provoking book nor terribly deep, it was a quick read, and since it's the first in the series, I am sure the author will tweak it here and there.


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