Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Delightful characters; charming setting
Cons: Mystery a little weak at end; one part of Jules’s backstory
The Bottom Line:
Leads to bakery murder
In charming debut
Journey to Ashford to Meet a New Baker Sleuth
Obviously, I love puns. I honestly think it would be hard to be a cozy mystery reader without loving them. But when I saw the title of the first Bakeshop Mystery, it grabbed me more than many of them. I mean, with a last name of Baker, how could I pass up a book entitled Meet Your Baker?
This book introduces us to Jules Capshaw. After years at sea as a pastry chef, she’s returned to her hometown of Ashford, Oregon. She’s trying to figure out what to do next with her life, but in the meantime, she’s working with her mother at Torte, the family’s bakeshop.
Jules is hoping for some peace and quiet in order to figure out her life, but that’s not what she gets. Ashford is a small town, with a heavy reliance on the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and the politics of that festival carry over into town life. Recently, the festival has added a new board member, Nancy Hudson, and Nancy has decided that this is her serfdom to run as she sees fit. Not that she’s too pleasant when dealing with anyone, as Jules sees first hand. However, when Jules goes to open the shop one morning, she finds Nancy’s dead body on the floor of Torte’s kitchen. With the police questioning Jules’s friends and Torte’s employees, she starts trying to figure out what really happened. Can she do it?
I think I was in love with this setting before I started reading the book. I love live theater, after all, and I’ve long heard of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival that is Ashford’s claim to fame. I’d love to go sometime, but until that happens, getting to be a tourist via this book is a wonderful alternative.
The mystery starts out quickly, giving us a taste of Nancy’s nastiness before she is murdered. She has some interesting secrets about herself and others that come out as the book progresses. There are some strong sub-plots that take center stage at times, pushing the mystery to the background. I did feel the climax was a little weak, but it does perfectly explain everything.
I already like this cast of characters. Jules and her friends old and new already feel like friends, and I’m looking forward to visiting them again soon to find out what happens next to them. I did think that Jules’s reason for returning to Ashford was a little weak, but maybe that’s just me, and if I’d been in her shoes, I’d fully understand.
And we get delicious sounding recipes. There are eight of them in the back of the book, including recipes for things Raspberry Danish, Brazilian Cheese Muffins, and Sweet Heat Espresso.
If you are hungry for another culinary cozy series, the Bakeshop series is certainly one to consider. With the friendly characters and fun setting, it’s easy to see why it is so popular. Come Meet Your Baker, and you’ll quickly find yourself moving on to the next in the series.