Thursday, January 20, 2022

Book Review: On Thin Icing by Ellie Alexander (Bakeshop Mysteries #3)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Characters in a classic mystery set up
Cons: Plot is too thin for the novel
The Bottom Line:
Retreat in the snow
Catering to a killer?
Mystery is thin

Thin on Plot

I’ve talked before about how much I enjoy reading books near when they are set.  I discovered that I had done that twice this month without even meaning to.  The second time was On Thin Icing, the third in the Bakeshop Mysteries from Ellie Alexander.

Jules Capshaw is hoping to expand the catering portion of Torte, her family’s bakeshop, so when she is asked to cater the off-season retreat for the board of directors of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, she doesn’t hesitate.  The meeting is taking place at the Lake of the Woods retreat center in one of the mountains around Ashland, Oregon.  Jules expects to work hard, but to have a successful weekend.

However, she’s hardly arrived when she is shocked to find her estranged husband is right behind her.  He’s hoping to work through their problems, and Jules finds his presence distracting.  Then, Jules finds the dead body of the center’s bar tender in one of the freezers.  The bar tender had made a nuisance of himself the night before, but Jules didn’t think anyone would have wanted to kill him.  As a storm rages, cutting them off from the rest of the world, Jules wonders who she is stranded with on the mountain top is a killer.

Obviously, this is a classic set up.  I love it when the author uses the characters to acknowledge it, which we get here.  As much as I don’t like snow, I was ready to pull up a blanket and settle in for a cold read.  The fact that Carlos, Jules’s husband, showed up meant we should have had plenty of plot to keep us interested.

Sadly, that wasn’t the case.  Way too much time is spent in the kitchen cooking.  I wouldn’t have minded if we had gotten story advancement during those scenes, but we didn’t.  Yes, I get that this is a culinary cozy, and I certainly expect some of those scenes, but here it really slowed things down in the first half.

Things did get better in the second half.  Even then, the mystery seemed a sub-plot to us finally getting more of what happened with Carlos and Jules and seeing them confront their issues.  It’s interesting to finally see that happen, so fans of the series will be pleased.  We also do get a solution to the mystery.  It is logical, and Jules does get the clues that lead to the solution.  I just felt like that portion of the book really should have been a short story.

Which is a shame because I do like the characters.  Even Carlos, who I was determined not to like when he showed up, wormed his way into my good graces.  I’ve very conflicted about the romantic arc for this series, which I’m sure I’m supposed to be.  Obviously, we don’t see all the main characters of the series here, but they at least all get cameos.

Naturally, we get seven delicious sounding recipes at the end of the book.  While most are pastry and dessert themed, we do get a few others since Jules was cooking as well as baking in this book.

On Thin Icing could have been better with a stronger plot.  Here’s hoping that’s the case with the next in the series.

Mouth watering for more?  Here are the rest of the Bakeshop Mysteries.

1 comment:

  1. I'm caught up with this series so it's been awhile since I read this one but if I remember right I found this one and maybe the one after the weakest in the series. I was happy with how she handled the romance and I feel like this series is getting stronger.


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