Thursday, August 15, 2013

Book Review: Sprinkle with Murder by Jenn McKinlay (Cupcake Bakery Mysteries #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Good story and intriguing characters
Cons: Doesn’t quite live up to hype by others
The Bottom Line:
High expectations
Were not quite met by debut
Can see growth coming

Deadly Treat

While I wasn’t paying attention to food trends (like I ever do), gourmet cupcakes have become the newest fade.  I’ve actually visited two shops since the first of the year.  If only I liked frosting more, I might be in serious trouble.

What does that have to do with books?  I’m glad you asked.  Back in 2010, a cozy series started set in a gourmet cupcake bakery.  After hearing people rave about the series in the last few months, I finally read Sprinkle with Murder, the first in the series.

Mel’s dream has come true.  Along with one of her best friends, she has opened a cupcake bakery in the heart of Scottsdale, Arizona.  Business is taking off, so much so that the owner of a general bakery across town has taken to driving by multiple times a day to see how business is going.

The only dark cloud in Mel’s world is her other best friend Tate.  Tate is engaged to Christie, a horrid woman who is selfish and demanding, to be charitable.  So it’s hardly surprising when Mel arrives to an early morning meeting with Christie to find Christie dead.  But when the police rule it murder and quickly start looking at Mel as the killer, she must jump into action to clear her name and save her business.  Can she do it?

After the raves I’ve been hearing, I think my expectations were a tad too high.  To me this felt like a typical first in a cozy series.  We’re introduced to the characters and there’s a murder.  There was nothing wrong with the book and I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t the standout people were raving about.

The plot was certainly good.  It started quickly (in fact, I had two potential murder victims by the end of the first chapter since I hadn’t read the back of the book).  The killer wasn’t obvious, but the solution was logical and exciting.  The red herrings kept me delightfully confused along the way.

The characters were interesting.  All of them felt real, although a few could have been fleshed out better.  I liked the main characters, which definitely makes me want to find out more about them.

And all this was accomplished in just over 200 pages.  It’s actually quite impressive when you think about it since this is 100 fewer pages than most of the books I read.  For cupcake lovers, there are four recipes, including frosting, for cupcakes mentioned in the book.  Sadly, the one I most wanted the recipe for wasn’t back there.  Maybe in a future title in the series?

Which brings me back to my earlier thoughts.  In many ways, this feels like a pilot for a TV series.  We’re introduced to the characters and some on going stories are set in motion.  If the character development continues over the course of the series, I can certainly see why people rave about it now.  But it’s rare I fall for a TV series in the pilot, and that was the case here.  I’m certain intrigued enough to give it another go, and I’ve already bought book two.  I’ll definitely be back to visit Mel again.

In the meantime, I’ve been curious about the series for a while, so I am glad I read Sprinkle with Murder.  This is a good debut that certainly hints at a fun series to come.

If you need to read the series as well, here's the Cupcake Bakery Mysteries in order.

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