Cupcake Bakery Mystery #9
By Jenn McKinlay
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
When a breakup via cupcake threatens to crumble their friend’s life for good, Mel and Angie race to solve the murder as this New York Times bestselling series continues…
Love is in the air at Fairy Tale Cupcakes as Angie prepares for her wedding, but co-owner, Mel, is preparing for a breakup. Her old friend, Diane Earnest, is dumping her fiancé after discovering he’s only marrying her for her money. She wants Mel to personally deliver a batch of caramel breakup cupcakes to the louse and give her a play-by-play of his reaction.
When Mel finally tracks the man down, the look on his face isn’t the reaction she was expecting: he’s dead. After the police arrive and see the incriminating cupcakes, Diane becomes their prime suspect. If she hopes to taste freedom again, Mel and Angie must make sure the real killer gets their just desserts…(From Goodreads)
When I wasn’t dreaming about caramel, I completely enjoyed Jenn McKinlay’s newest Cupcake Bakery Mystery. Number nine in the series, it can be read as a standalone. It is a delicious romp through June’s escalating temperatures in the greater Phoenix and Scottsdale, AZ area. The author’s wit and talent for dreaming up a new, confounding mystery that goes hand-in-glove with a new cupcake treat guarantees a new best seller in the series. And for the dessert connoisseur, there are several new cupcake recipes to enjoy.
The world at Fairy Tale Cupcakes includes the daily drama of Mel, the Maid of Honor for Angie and Tate’s upcoming wedding, and helping Angie through another meltdown. The three have been best friends for what seems like forever, and are co-owners of the cupcake cafe. One would never have thought Angie would become a bridezilla, but trying to plan a wedding she thinks would please Tate’s parents causes daily changes to … almost everything.
Mel’s latest surprise is hearing from her first college roommate, Diane. The flashy Diane arrives with her assistant, the slender, nerd-type Elliott. Elliott, with multiple food allergies, who enjoys the specialty gluten/ lactose/ etc free yet still flavorful cupcakes on the menu. Diane places a unique cupcake order for Mel to deliver personally and video to capture the expression on the face of hew now former fiance – break-up cupcakes. Why is Mel the lucky woman? Diane rescued Mel from some unspeakable event from their college days, and it’s time for Mel to pay the piper to keep the secret. Who could use something that sounds as delicious as Caramel Crush for such an occasion, or to hang such a thing over Mel’s head for so long? Only Diane, the woman scorned, who learns that her fiance only wants to marry her for an influx of cash into his family’s party store.
Mel drives to the man’s country club, then his home, finally arriving at the huge party-rental office and warehouse. The door is open, but Mel can’t find anyone anywhere. Until she sees through the walls of a ball pit to find a hand, still clutching a ball, attached to the murdered body of Diane’s late fiance, Mike. There is no exciting video to send to Diane…unless one wanted to see Mike’s sister arrive, screeching that Mel is the murderer. When the dust settles, Diane becomes the prime suspect and begs Mel to find the real killer. Mel still has a debt to pay.
There is no more delightful set of owners in all of Old Town Scottsdale than the trio of besties at Fairy Tale Cupcakes. The only addition would be Joe DeLaura, an ADA in Phoenix and Mel’s sweetheart. These four are three-D characters who could step off the pages into Old Town. His siblings, known primarily as ‘the brothers’, are a force to be reckoned with. They are ready to deal with anyone who dares mess with a DeLaura, or the girlfriend of a DeLaura, and they are sweethearts to anyone in the family’s good graces. The DeLaura family and Mel’s family, including police detective Stan (who is used to getting Mel out of scrapes) are equally as delightful, but in somewhat limited doses. The rest of the crew at Fairy Tale are fun co-workers. This time, we get to know more about Marty, and it is worth every moment! What we do learn about everyone is through witty, sometimes acerbic dialog and actions.
There are several interesting plot twists that completely change the landscape of the mystery. The suspect list continues to grow as Mel and friends find out more and more unfavorable dirt about Mike. There are just so many people, especially women, with motive! However, the person I thought might be “the” bad guy/ gal isn’t who it turned out to be; the real killer was a complete surprise! The end was completely satisfying, including the latest surprises – at least two – among the staff at Fairy Tale. This reader appreciates the authenticity of the location, location, location…as I am somewhat familiar with the neighborhoods the author uses. It is a special treat for me to read street names or neighborhoods near where I’ve worked or shopped. In all, I highly recommend ‘Caramel Crush’ to fans of the Cupcake Bakery Mystery series, Jenn McKinlay, and humorous, well-written cozy mysteries.