A missing father, a bizarre cult and two poisoned shop assistants keep a Melbourne baker on her toes in the latest from Greenwood (Heavenly Pleasures, 2008, etc.).
Whenever pleasantly plump Corinna Chapman and her beautiful Israeli investigator lover, Daniel, find a new puzzle to solve, her eccentric, mostly cat-loving neighbors at Insula, her Romanesque apartment building, are ready to pitch in. As Corinna blissfully bakes bread along with her assistant Jason, a reformed drug addict who’s become a magician of muffins, her peace is shattered when her estranged hippie mother, Starshine, turns up minus her husband Sunlight, whose midlife crisis has propelled him from their commune in search of a younger woman. Luckily, one of the Insula residents, an old school friend of Star, is willing to take her in while Corinna searches for her errant dad. When her two bone-thin assistants start acting strangely, her neighborhood shopkeeper, Meroe the witch, discovers that the girls have been poisoned by an herbal diet tea they’ve been knocking back. Meantime, Insula neighbors Jon and Kepler find herbs hidden inside their imports from India. All paths seem to lead to members of a fat-despising cult who’ve been special ordering one of Corinna’s most unusual breads. Corinna and Daniel are in for some surprises as they work to solve the overlapping mysteries while a murderer lurks.
Not in any sense a classic mystery. But like-minded readers will find themselves charmed by the oddball characters and obligatory recipes.