Muffin to Fear
A Merry Muffin Mystery
By Victoria Hamilton
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
In the latest from the national bestselling author of Much Ado About Muffin, newlywed baker Merry Wynter has some unwanted guests looking for ghosts at Wynter Castle…
While Merry is distracted by her quickly planned marriage to Virgil Grace and a blissful honeymoon in New York, her friend Pish invites the ghost-hunting crew from the TV show Haunt Hunt to investigate Merry’s home, Wynter Castle. Merry soon discovers that not only is the crew out of sync, there are so many feuds and squabbles, it’s a miracle they get a show produced at all.
It all goes from bad to worse when the show’s psychics claim to have contact with people murdered on Merry’s property. When two cast members are found dead, Merry and Virgil must figure out who’s picking off the Haunt Hunt team before their hard-earned happily ever after is cut short. (from Goodreads)
Victoria Hamilton has outdone herself again! Number five in the Merry Muffin Mystery Series, Muffin to Fear surpasses the earlier novels and can be read as a standalone. I love a mystery that requires significant attention to details and thought processing from the reader even while being entertained with humor. I also appreciate bits of wisdom stirred into the delicious mixture of fascinating characters and events, such as: “…every person is more than his or her worst behavior” (page 160).
I am so happy for the changes in Merry’s life, one being her marriage to and honeymoon with her adoring bridegroom. When they return from a blissful time in the Big Apple, it is a fast slap of “reality” at Wynter Castle to find the reality TV show, ‘Haunt Hunt’, setting up to film in her home. Pish, her close, dear, and older friend, had contacted the folks at Haunt Hunt to ask questions about things he had seen and heard at Wynter Castle, and the next thing he knew, they were making arrangements to arrive and film. Even though he didn’t ask for it, here they are – and he had hoped they would be finished before the ecstatic bride returned.
Merry begins to do what she does best – being hostess to those staying in the castle during the filming, baking muffins that she sells to local cafes, and being the bride to her new husband. It isn’t long, though, before the challenges with the Haunt Hunt crew begin. She finds out they are asking questions about the castle around town. Not about the history of the structure, but the murders that had taken place on the grounds. Murders solved and not needing to be publicized again. Her young friend, Lizzie, is acting as an “intern” to the crew, even though in high school instead of college. Her knowledge of photography is impressive, and this is an opportunity for her to learn more, as long as she is willing to step and fetch whatever they need.
There are factions separating cast and crew, sniping and griping and even at least one affair – how can so much go on within such a small group of coworkers? The guys are as bad as the gals, but in more subtle ways. Alliances seem to change regularly, people hating each other one day and best of friends the next. While the meters and such remind me of those used by Ghost Busters, one thing was certain – it wasn’t a ghost who killed one of the psychics that last night of taping. Before the haunted crew can leave the castle, the bad guy(s) have to be caught, and Merry and her bridegroom, now a P.I., have incentive to bring peace back to their home.
Merry is my favorite character, and Lizzie and Hannah take a close second. They are the best-defined characters. Merry’s name is the portent of her personality, as she is overall a happy person. She has empathy with even the people she suspects of murder and tries to spend time with everybody. Lizzie is a unique teen, and Hannah is an outstanding research librarian. Each are amazing, intelligent, and loving gals. We learn as much about the cast and crew as is necessary for their roles and for the ongoing investigation.
There is more than one mystery surrounding the cast and crew, but whether there is a common bad guy is yet another mystery. There are twists and turns throughout, including one uncovered by Becket, the orange tabby Merry inherited with the castle. Then comes the abrupt U-turn that changes everything. I confess to being unable to determine who the bad guy(s) might be; there were just so many who seemed suspicious. The resolution was somewhat of a surprise, as one was a solution I had already considered and discarded. The end is more than satisfying and I was happy to see that the story extended past the bad guy(s) being unmasked, leaving no loose ends or spectres. I highly recommend Muffin to Fear to fans of this series and of thoughtful, entertaining, well-written cozy mysteries.