An engaging cozy best enjoyed with a plate of cookies.

SPRINKLES OF SUSPICION

From the Cupcake Catering Mystery Series series , Vol. 1

A California-based mystery delivers deceit, murder, and lots of cupcakes.

Twenty-something Emory Martinez, a professional accountant and highly skilled amateur baker, wakes up one morning on the tile floor of the guest bathroom in her Huntington Beach condo. She is seriously hung over and has no recollection of how she wound up on the floor. The last thing she remembers is being out for drinks with her best friend, Tori Carlton, and Tori’s “mysterious cousin,” Randall. Em hopes desperately that her husband, Philip, a police officer working the graveyard shift, hasn’t seen her passed out. It turns out that Philip never came home. Em’s repeated attempts to reach Tori by phone to find out what happened last night go straight to voicemail. Concerned that she and her friend may have been secretly drugged, Em bikes the five miles to Tori’s Costa Mesa home. There, she finds Philip and Tori passionately entangled on the couch. A knockdown, drag-out fight between Tori and Em spills outside, is witnessed by neighbors, and is broken up by the police. Which is very bad news for Em when, later that night, Tori is murdered and Em discovers the body. She is considered the prime suspect, which means it will be up to her to find the real killer. But first she must help her twin sister, Carrie, who is catering an elaborate children’s birthday party. Em is the amiable narrator of a mystery that should find a special fan base among foodies. The twisty plotline shares prime time with Em’s running descriptions of party cuisine, drinks, and imaginative baked goods. Davis populates the narrative with an assortment of eccentric characters. The two “Stoner Dudes” (Steve Miller and Stan Miller) who live above Tori’s apartment turn out to be far more intriguing than they first appear to be. And wealthy matron Matilda Skyler (“Please call me Tillie”) adds delightful, laugh-out-loud comic relief. Character development is rather superficial, but there is enough action, including a few surprises—plus baking—to maintain a steady momentum. The breezy book concludes with a collection of unique recipes. Cowgirl Quencher Mocktail Cupcakes anyone?

An engaging cozy best enjoyed with a plate of cookies.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 269

Publisher: Cinnamon & Sugar Press

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

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THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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Combines disarming sensitivity to the nuances of the tangled relations among the characters with sledgehammer plotting.

FALSE WITNESS

A master of the no-holds-barred law enforcement thriller turns to legal intrigue, with shattering results.

A week before he’s to stand trial for the aggravated assault and rape of DataTel district manager Tammy Karlsen, car-dealership scion Andrew Tenant fires his lawyer and asks for a new one: Leigh Collier, a rising star at an Atlanta white-shoe firm. Originally baffled by the request, Leigh quickly realizes that her new client has a special reason to have asked for her: He’s recognized her from a magazine photo as the older sister of Callie, the babysitter who killed his father, Buddy Waleski, when his latest pedophile assault on her turned violent 23 years ago. In fact, the truth is even darker than that. Leigh was an active participant in the killing. Now she's determined to do everything she can to torpedo the defense she's preparing for Andrew, who’s accused of stabbing Tammy Karlsen in exactly the way Callie stabbed his father, while persuading both her client and her watchful senior partner that she’s doing her utmost to represent him. As she learns more and more particulars about the case and her client, Leigh realizes that her plan doesn’t go nearly far enough. Andrew is guilty of this assault and others, but he doesn’t just want her to get him off: He plans to blackmail her into complying with a potentially endless series of demands. How can she strike back at a monster who holds all the cards? Only by tapping into the depthless power of sisterhood with Callie, who’s descended into addiction but still loves Leigh with a ferocity that makes the pair of them as dangerous as the man who’s targeted them.

Combines disarming sensitivity to the nuances of the tangled relations among the characters with sledgehammer plotting.

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-285809-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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