Much Ado About Muffin
Merry Muffin Mystery, Book #4
By Victoria Hamilton
Author’s website: www.victoriahamiltonmysteries.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
When muffin baker Merry Wynter sees an innocent woman accused of murder, it’s dough or die…
Opera singer Roma Toscano may have a crippling case of stage fright, but she certainly is stirring up drama in Autumn Vale, New York, as she prepares for an upcoming performance at Merry’s Wynter Castle. With her flamboyant style and flirtatious personality, Roma attracts fans as well as critics, including the town’s postmistress—and Merry’s bitter foe—Minnie Urqhart.
But Roma and Minnie’s heated rivalry goes cold after Merry discovers Minnie dead at the post office. While every clue seems to be another ingredient in the investigation of Roma, Merry thinks the case is half-baked, and she’s eager to get her mitts on the real killer…
A hothouse flower – or pampered lady – Merry isn’t! She left her home at Wynter Castle, in Autumn Vale, NY several weeks ago. Her former mother-in-law in Malaga was in her final days and she wanted to make peace with Merry before she died. Merry remained after the death of the older woman, staying with her late husband’s brother, Tony. Merry couldn’t live in such luxury or continue to stay with Tony, especially after he suggested that they marry. She could only marry – if ever doing so again – for love, as the first time.
What a difference 2 ½ months away can make! Virgil, the sheriff and the man Merry hoped to have a relationship with, was angry, thinking she was coming back to close up the castle and return to luxury land. Her best friend, Shiloh, had been seen acting strangely, was unhappy and losing weight but insists everything is fine. Another friend, Emerald, was getting far too close to Crystal Rouse and the ‘Consciousness Calling’ group, a kind of New Age money pit and her daughter was ready to Lizzie was ready to leave home.
Worse, her dear friend Pish, who lived at the castle and made sure everything ran smoothly while she was gone, had brought his friend Roma to the castle to say for a while. The woman was a huge flirt with men and rude to women, but the diva developed some sort of terrible stage fright and couldn’t sing. Yes, she had an amazing voice, and Pish was trying to help her get it back. Roma and Merry weren’t friends, no matter how hard Merry tried. Then Merry saw that hdf late uncle’s cat Becket that she had come to love, had begun to mourn her absence as he had his former owner. When Merry first moved in, the cat was a fleeting orange ghost that stayed mostly in the wooded areas, and he had begun to do so again. There were so many relationships that Merry needed to repair!
Thankfully, some friends remained the same. Gogi, Virgil’s mother, and Merry were going to run errands in a nearby town when they stopped at the post office to see whether the rest of Merry’s luggage had arrived. The front door wasn’t open yet, so they went around back and found the door was ajar. Entering, they called for Minnie but she didn’t answer. She couldn’t – Merry found her quite dead, stabbed with an antique letter opener. One suspect came to the mind of the locals – Roma, who had threatened Minnie with a similar letter opener recently at a tea that had been held at the castle. Roma may not be a friend of Merry’s, but she simply wasn’t a murderer. Yet, while Merry tries to find the real bad guy/ bad gal, the evidence might be adding up to prove her wrong. Especially when someone tries to run Merry off the road, and Roma had borrowed Pish’s car that and brought it back with a brand new dent on the front.
Wow, the plethora of tasks Merry had! I very much admire this author who successfully writes many situations into a mystery and does it so well that the reader not only remembers everyone, but can be captivated by each one! Victoria Hamilton not only executes the perfect plot with enough twists and turns to keep each situation active, but also gives us an assortment of suspects. I do enjoy a cozy mystery such as this where I must slow down and savor the descriptions of the surroundings, situations and people. There was enough humor to offset how serious the crimes were, making this a deliciously delightful read. The ending was absolutely satisfactory! As were the resolutions to the murder and the attacks on Merry. Speaking of delicious, there are two wonderful muffin recipes at the end which look easy enough for even we cooking-challenged folks like me to succeed with!
Each person is described with care, depending on their role, and most are extremely likable. My favorites are Merry and her friends Hannah and Shiloh. Hannah is a humble young woman and an amazing researcher. Being the librarian clearly has honed her skills, as she could find almost anything about anyone. Shiloh and Hannah have overcome tremendous challenges to be who they are today; I think those details are necessary to appreciate those characters more. Gogi is a delightful woman, well-suited to her role at the assisted-care facility. And Virgil? Time will tell about the handsome sheriff and our heroine, and I’m looking forward to finding out!
I highly recommend Much Ado about Muffin to cozy mystery lovers of any age who enjoy a peaceful, beautiful setting, an eclectic group of people, and with challenging mysteries – a place that is hard to leave!