Meet Your Baker (A Bakeshop Mystery #1) by Ellie Alexander
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Welcome to Torte-a friendly, small-town family bake shop where the treats are so good that, sometimes, it’s criminal…
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…
First of all, thank you to Charlie at Girl of 1000 Wonders for reviewing the third book in this series at the beginning of this month. Without that, I wouldn’t have known about this great series.
Now, the review.
First of all, the pacing of this book is great. Almost every chapter ended with me needing to read on immediately, which is just what I want from a mystery or a thriller. It’s a wild ride, too, with numerous suspects popping up left, right, and center. They don’t all start visible, either, which made it even better.
Second, the characters. This is first person, which some of you might know isn’t my usual cup of tea, but it worked. Because we’re seeing all these people through Jules’s eyes, there’s no third person narrator to soften Jules’s impressions, and man can those be sharp and harsh. For this book, I think it worked really well, because for me it drew the suspense out longer as I watched people with Jules’s suspicions right at hand – and while sharing her moments of blindness, too.
On the other hand, I’m not really sure what to make of Jules herself. I don’t dislike her, thankfully, but I also can’t say I feel particularly attached either to her or to the problems in her personal life (which, spoiler alert, the blurb doesn’t even mention except in passing). Actually, I feel that way about all of the characters. None of them really made much of an impression on me for some reason, even though all of them were revealed to have layers as Jules got to know them – or see how those she did know have changed over the decade she’s been away.
However, this is a mystery. I was reading for the mystery – and I have no complaints on that score. Every single question that popped up got answered (some because the villain did a typical villain monologue, of course), there were plenty of red herrings and suspects, and, again, the pacing was pretty much always spot on.
And the back of the book had some of the recipes mentioned in the book! I love to bake, so that was a nice bonus. Plus, I work backstage at theaters, so I loved getting to see so much theater. Although I have to wonder how much money the Oregon Shakespeare Festival brings in that they can afford to have three or four people backstage to every one person onstage. Normally that’s so far from the truth that that throwaway line from Jules brought me careening out of the book’s world, but since that was the only instance, I’m willing to let it go.
Overall, I’m giving this one 3.5 stars because it was exactly what I look for in a mystery and I like baking and theater, both of which were super important to the world and the mystery. And I will definitely be picking up the next book in this series, if only to steal recipes.
(On a complete side note to this review: Dear Ms. Alexander, if you happen to ever read this, please please please give me the recipe for lime and mint cupcakes. All I find when I do an internet search is mojito cupcakes, which aren’t precisely my cup of tea.)