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 smart summer escape.

PORTRAIT OF AN UNKNOWN WOMAN

Silva’s latest Gabriel Allon novel is a bit of a throwback—in the best possible way.

One-time assassin and legendary spymaster Gabriel Allon has finally retired. After saying farewell to his friends and colleagues in Israel, he moves with his wife, Chiara, and their two young children to a piano nobile overlooking Venice’s Grand Canal. His plan is to return to the workshop where he learned to restore paintings as an employee—but only after he spends several weeks recovering from the bullet wound that left him dead for several minutes in The Cellist (2021). Of course, no one expects Gabriel to entirely withdraw from the field, and, sure enough, a call from his friend and occasional asset Julian Isherwood sends him racing around the globe on the trail of art forgers who are willing to kill to protect their extremely lucrative enterprise. Silva provides plenty of thrills and, as usual, offers a glimpse into the lifestyles of the outrageously wealthy. In the early books in this series, it was Gabriel’s work as an art restorer that set him apart from other action heroes, and his return to that world is the most rewarding part of this installment. It is true that, at this point in his storied career, Gabriel has become a nearly mythic figure. And Silva is counting on a lot of love—and willing suspension of disbelief—when Gabriel whips up four old master canvases that fool the world’s leading art experts as a lure for the syndicate selling fake paintings. That said, as Silva explains in an author’s note, the art market is rife with secrecy, subterfuge, and wishful thinking, in no small part because it is almost entirely unregulated. And, if anyone can crank out a Titian, a Tintoretto, a Gentileschi, and a Veronese in a matter of days, it’s Gabriel Allon. The author’s longtime fans may breathe a sigh of relief that this entry is relatively free of politics and the pandemic is nowhere in sight.

A smart summer escape.

Pub Date: July 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-283485-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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A rarity: a police procedural more deeply invested in the victims than either the killer or the police.

ABANDONED IN DEATH

June 2061 is a perilous time for women in a downtown Manhattan neighborhood who happen to resemble a violent kidnapper’s mother.

The killer doesn’t seem to be trying to hide anything except his own identity. Ten days after snatching bartender Lauren Elder from the street as she walked home, he leaves her body, carefully dressed and made up, with even the gash in her throat meticulously stitched up and beribboned, where it’s sure to be found quickly, along with the chilling label “bad mommy.” When Lt. Eve Dallas and Detective Delia Peabody realize that Anna Hobe, a server at a nearby karaoke bar who disappeared a week ago under similar circumstances, was probably another victim of the same perp, the clock begins ticking down even before they learn that assistant marketing manager Mary Kate Covino has gone missing as well. Dallas, Peabody, and the helpers who’ve made Robb’s long-lived franchise even more distinctive than its futuristic setting race to find the women or identify their kidnapper before he reverts once again to the 5-year-old abandoned by his mother many years ago. The emphasis this time is on investigative procedure, forensics (beginning with the Party Girl perfume and the Toot Sweet moisturizer the murderer uses on the corpses of his victims), and the broader danger women in every generation face from men who just can’t grow up.

A rarity: a police procedural more deeply invested in the victims than either the killer or the police.

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-2502-7821-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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