A pet lover’s expansion of her bakery to feature dog-friendly treats sparks the ire of her small California town’s wealthiest family.
Longtime pet lover Carrie Kennersly’s dreams come true when she turns her Icing on the Cake bakery into two shops: Icing, specializing in the bakery’s traditional fare, and The Barkery, a bakery just for dogs. Though Carrie has been a longtime veterinary technician for the local clinic in Knobcone Heights, opening the dual bake shops means putting her tech work on a very part-time basis. Luckily, former bakery owner Brenda has left Carrie with two experienced and capable sidekicks to help run the shop, and Carrie can depend on her brother and roommate, Neal, to put in extra time taking care of her own pooch, Biscuit. Come opening day, Carrie feels the support from her long-standing vet clients but is surprised when Myra Ethman and her husband, Harris, show up engorged with bad blood. Sure, the two of them own the Knob Hill Pet Emporium, but that’s not the same type of store as the Barkery, and the old-money couple is hardly threatened by Carrie’s potential success. Carrie can’t help but be drawn into arguing with Myra. That’s unfortunate not because mean-tempered Myra doesn’t deserve it but because Myra later turns up dead next to one of Carrie’s specialized dog biscuits. To clear her own name, Carrie has to figure out who might have had reason to kill Myra, even though the deeper she digs, the more enemies she uncovers.
Kicking off a cozy new series, prolific Johnston (Lost Under a Ladder, 2014, etc.) blends mystery and romantic intrigue. Though the violence that occurs is brief, its abruptness may put off some readers.