Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Book Review: Gluten for Punishment by Nancy J. Parra (Baker's Treat Mysteries #1)

Stars: 2 out of 5
Pros: The characters are fun and charming
Cons: The plot is poor and the editing is worse
The Bottom Line:
Characters I like
Underserved by mystery
Edits do not help

Doesn't Rise to the Level of the Best Debuts

I love puns, which is a good thing since so many cozy mysteries have very punny titles.  Take for example Gluten for Punishment, the first in a series about the owner of an allergy conscious bakery.  With a title like that, how could the book go wrong?  Unfortunately, I found out as I read it.

Toni Holmes has moved back to her hometown in Kansas and is setting up a storefront to compliment her internet gluten and allergy free bakery, Baker's Treat.  Yes, it's a risk in the heart of wheat country, but since she is allergic to gluten herself, she is willing to take the risk.

However, at the grand opening, there is one wheat farmer (and might I add wacko) who is an out spoken critic of her bakery.  Before they even cut the ribbon, someone is throwing wheat filled balloons at her front door.  Then a body is found outside the bakery's door the next morning.  Can Toni figure out who is behind the crime?

I will say I liked the characters.  Toni is a strong main character who takes quite a bit in this book, but takes it without complaining too much.  She is surrounded by family and friends.  Grandma Ruth is especially fun, and I loved best friend Tasha.  These are people I would definitely enjoy spending more time with.

If the plot were better.

Sadly, this book is an example of lots of action with very little detection.  Toni gets a little bit of information, comes up with a theory, then when it doesn't work sits back and waits for more information to fall into her lap.  The events are what passes for twists, and there were lots of them as someone is out to scare Toni into minding her own business.  The climax was extremely weak, though logical.

Top that off with the poor editing.  There was the case of the teleporting character, who in one paragraph was involved in the conversation Toni was in and in the next was catching Toni's attention from across the room.  There was at least one day that a character completely forgot.  But the worst example was the party that Toni is asked to cater.  It's in three weeks, the first weekend of November.  Suddenly, she busy planning what she will serve at the party that weekend, the middle of October.  Since the party wasn't even central to the plot, I don't see what the point was.

Being a culinary mystery, there are recipes in the back for several of the gluten free items that are mentioned in the book.  They certain do sound mouth watering and fairly easy to make as well.

I like the characters and wish I had enjoyed spending time with them more.  However, the weak plotting and poor editing make Gluten for Punishment a poor debut.  I won't be reading any more from this author.

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