When I was perusing my bookcase, I realized I never had gotten back to the Bakeshop Mysteries. It’s actually a little embarrassing how long it’s been since I read the first one. So, I decided it was time to return to Ashland, Oregon, with A Batter of Life and Death.
It’s autumn, and that means the Shakespeare Festival that Ashland is known for is wrapping up for the season. Jules Capshaw is looking forward to catching her breath for a bit, although she is hoping that Torte, her family’s bakeshop, will still have enough customers that they can keep saving money for the upgrades they need.
A potential answer comes in the most surprising way. The Pastry Channel has come to town to film the new season of Take the Cake, a baking competition show. They want to use Torte’s kitchen for some of the contestants and they want Jules to be a contestant on the show. While initially reluctant, Jules agrees to compete.
However, even before filming can begin, Jules finds one of the contestants dead on the set. Chef Marco had made plenty of people angry, but who was made enough to kill him?
Obviously, a baking competition isn’t a new set up for a culinary cozy mystery, but author Ellie Alexander does a good job of using the set up to create her own mystery. The pacing was a little off in the middle, but there are a good number of secrets and lies that Jules has to sift through before she can find the killer. The other contestants make for wonderful suspects – they become a bit more developed as the book goes along so we care about the outcome. The climax is suspenseful and logical.
Because it has been so long since I read the first book, the characters weren’t fresh in my mind when I picked up the book. However, I was eased back into Jules’s world very quickly. Jules is still dealing with some personal issues, and I appreciated the growth she got here. Several other characters had good growth as well, and I’m interested in seeing what happens next to all of them.
I’ve never actually been to Ashland, but the book definitely made me want to visit. Since I love the theater, that would be a huge draw for me as well. Someday.
The book ends with 7 recipes you can enjoy any time. They range from vegan butter to a delicious sounding chocolate cake and a pumpkin cream latte.
I know I am far behind on this popular series. A Batter of Life and Death shows just why so many people love it. I need to revisit Jules again soon.
If you are behind like me, check out the rest of the Bakeshop Mysteries.