Thursday, November 21, 2019

Book Review: And Then There Were Crumbs by Eve Calder (Cookie House Mysteries #1)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters, delightful setting
Cons: Mystery is a sub-plot
The Bottom Line:
Murder on first day
Kate bakes and works to free boss
And in that order

Unfortunately, the Mystery Got Crumbs

As you may have noticed, just about any culinary cozy that crosses my path catches my attention, especially if it is dessert related.  Throw in the fact that And Then There Were Crumbs is set in Coral Cay, Florida, which sounded like a great location, and I was sold.  Unfortunately, the results were mixed.

After losing her job, her apartment, and her fiance all in one day, Kate McGuire decides it is time for a change, so she packs up her belongings and moves to Coral Cay, hoping to land a job as a pastry chef before her savings runs out.  The best job she seems to be able to land is at The Cookie House, a bakery known for its breads, but not one pastry of any kind.  Sam Hepplewhite, the owner, seems gruff, but Kate begins to see a softer side to him.

On Kate’s first full day on the job, Stewart Lord stalks into the bakery.  He is a real estate developer who has decided to buy up Coral Cay and turn the entire island into a resort for the rich and famous, and he has The Cookie House in his sites as his first purchase.  He makes Sam a rock bottom offer, but only leaves with some cinnamon rolls he demanded from Sam.  A few hours later, Stewart is dead, and Sam’s cinnamon rolls are the culprit.  The police arrest Sam, but Kate doesn’t think her new boss is a killer.  Can she prove he didn’t poison Stewart?

I’ve heard a lot of praise for this book, and I can see why people love it.  Heck, I was under its spell for the first 100 pages or so.  This may be a debut, but the writing is sure.  I easily got lost in Coral Cay and am ready to visit in real life.  While character’s pasts are important to understand what is happening in the present, we get this info in quick bursts instead of in long, drawn out flashbacks.

Even more important, the characters are strong.  Kate makes some friends on the island, and I can see why she considers them such good friends in such a short amount of time.  Heck, I loved hanging out with them.  There is a large cast of characters, but they were never overwhelming, and we were also given context to remember who everyone was.

Unfortunately, it is the mystery that undercuts the book.  We spend more time – significantly more time – on the fate of the bakery once Sam is arrested than we do on actually working to solve the case.  That’s the main plot of the book with the mystery serving as a sub-plot.  It’s a shame because the basic mystery was strong.  We just needed more of it with more twists along the way.

This book will make you hungry!  Kate manages to do plenty of baking over the course of the book, with cookies being a focus.  I want to try several different varieties mentions here.  Unfortunately, we don’t have any of those recipes at the end of the book.

The characters and the setting easily capture the reader.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough for me, and the under baked mystery left me disappointed.  However, enough people love the book that if the premise sounds good, pick up And Then There Were Crumbs.

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