by Kim Davis ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 2, 2020
An engaging cozy best enjoyed with a plate of cookies.
Awards & Accolades
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
Page Count: 269
Publisher: Cinnamon & Sugar Press
Review Posted Online: April 28, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Lisa Jewell ‧ RELEASE DATE: Aug. 8, 2023
It's hard to read but hard to look away from.
When two women who share a birthday meet, a journalist becomes the subject of her own true-crime mystery.
On their 45th birthdays, Josie Fair and Alix Summer meet at a pub and discover they were born not only on the same day, but in the same hospital. Alix is a successful journalist, and Josie convinces Alix that her story is worth telling: Josie met her husband when she was 13 and he was 40. “I can see that maybe I was being used, that maybe I was even being groomed?” she confesses to Alix. “But that feeling of being powerful, right at the start, when I was still in control. I miss that sometimes. I really do. And what I’d like, more than anything, is to get it back.” From this premise Alix creates a Netflix series, Hi! I’m Your Birthday Twin! which investigates Josie’s life as she reconciles what happened to her as a teen and seeks a new path. With the story unfinished, the narrative unfolds in the present tense, with prose that jingles like song lyrics: “He turns to see if the girl is behind him, and sees her wishy-washy, wavy-wavy, in double vision through the glass windows of the hotel.” Alix is both intrigued and repulsed by Josie, but she initially gives her the benefit of the doubt. After all, Alix’s husband, Nathan, has a drinking problem, and Alix knows what it’s like to be reluctant to leave a bad situation. But Josie seems more interested in being part of Alix’s seemingly glamorous life than she is in fixing her own, and when three people end up dead and Alix’s life is turned upside down, the evidence points to Josie—and turns the TV series into a murder mystery. Transcripts from Alix’s interviews alternate with the narrative, offering increasingly varied perspectives on Josie’s story as told by her neighbors, friends, and family members. With so many versions of events, the ending shatters, leaving readers to decide whose is the truth.It's hard to read but hard to look away from.
Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2023
Page Count: 384
Review Posted Online: May 24, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2023
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by David Baldacci ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 11, 2022
Fascinating main characters and a clever plot add up to an exciting read.
A thriller with bloody murders and plenty of suspects and featuring an unlikely partnership between two FBI investigators.
FBI consultant Amos Decker has a lot on his mind. The huge fellow once played for the Cleveland Browns in the NFL until he received a catastrophic brain injury, leaving him with synesthesia; he sees death as electric blue. More pertinent to the plot, he also has hyperthymesia, or spontaneous and highly accurate recall. On the one hand, his memories can be horrible. He’d once come home to find his wife and daughter murdered, dead in pools of blood. Later, he listens helplessly on the telephone while his ex-partner shoots herself in the mouth. On the other hand, his memory helps him solve every case he's given. Now he's sent to Florida with a brand-new partner, Special Agent Frederica White, to investigate the murder of a federal judge. Both partners are pissed at their last-minute pairing, and they immediately see themselves as a bad fit. White is a diminutive Black single mother of two who has a double black belt in karate “because I hate getting my ass kicked.” (The author doesn't mention Decker's race, but since he's being contrasted with his new partner in every way, perhaps readers are expected to see him as White. Clarity would be nice.) Their case is strange: Judge Julia Cummins was stabbed 10 times and her face covered with a mask, while her bodyguard was shot to death. Decker and White puzzle over the “very contrarian crime scene” where two murders seem to have been committed by two different people in the same place. The plot gets complex, with suspects galore. But the interpersonal dynamic between Decker and White is just as interesting as the solution to the murders, which doesn't come easily. At first, they’d like to be done with each other and go their separate ways. But as they work together, their mutual respect rises and—alas—the tension between them fades almost completely. The pair will make a great series duo, especially if a bit of that initial tension between them returns. And Baldacci shouldn’t give Decker a pass on his tortured memories, because readers enjoy suffering heroes. It's not enough that his near-perfect recall helps him in his job.Fascinating main characters and a clever plot add up to an exciting read.
Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022
Page Count: 448
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2022
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