Thursday, December 29, 2016

Book Review: Custom Baked Murder by Liz Mugavero (Pawsitively Organic Mysteries #5)



Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters and community; good mystery
Cons: Sub-plots a little strong early on in book
The Bottom Line:
Murder gives reason
To visit Frog Ledge again
Great community




Party Ends in Murder

There’s a reason I love reading a series.  When an author does their job well, we really get to know the characters and it is a pleasure to visit them again in every book.  That’s certainly the case with Custom Baked Murder.

This is the fifth book in the Pawsitively Organic Mysteries by Liz Mugavero.  As it opens, Kristan “Stan” Connor is a few months away from opening a shop for her organic pet food and treat business.  She is juggling getting things ready for that while also continuing to make orders for her existing customers.  Add to that her mother’s engagement to the town’s new mayor and her sister being in town for an unannounced, extended visit, and Stan is very busy.

Which is why Stan is an hour late to her mother’s engagement party.  However, she isn’t the only one late – her mother’s fiancĂ©e has also not arrived yet.  To add to the drama of the night, Stan starts running into former co-workers from her time in corporate America, including her ex-boyfriend.  Stan doesn’t think the night can get any worse, but it does when a body is found upstairs.  The police close the case quickly, but Stan is certainly they have the wrong person.  Are the police trying to cover something up?  Who is the real killer?

As I said earlier, the characters in this series are great.  The last book was actually set out of the area, but we are back in Frog Ledge, Connecticut, for this book, and it is great to spend lots of time with all the regulars again.  What I especially love in the growth we are seeing in Stan and her relationships.  Liz Mugavero has built a real community here, and it is a fantastic place to visit.

The book has several sub-plots in addition to the murder mystery.  I felt those sub-plots overpowered the main mystery in the beginning of the book, but when we reached the second half, the mystery really took over.  But here’s the thing – I was never bored.  I was as interested in the sub-plots as I was the main mystery.  And those sub-plots helped drive the character building and sense of community that I was just praising.  Never fear, the mystery does have some good twists and several viable suspects before we reach the logical climax.

Like the earlier entries, this book has four recipes for the healthy pet treats that Stan makes.  I’ve got to admit, they sound good even to me.

If you’ve missed the Pawsitively Organic series, you really should pick it up.  Start at the beginning so you can fully appreciate what happens to the characters in Custom Baked Murder.

If you are looking for more of Stan’s adventures, here are the Pawsitively Organic Mysteries in order.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

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