A Room with a Roux
Pancake House Mystery #7
By Sarah Fox
Author’s website: authorsarahfox.com
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Jeanie
Pancake house owner Marley McKinney takes a break from the Flip Side for a romantic getaway. But soon, instead of mixing batter, she’s mixed up with murder . . .
Marley and her new husband Brett need some quality couple time before the holiday madness, so they drive up into the mountains of the Olympic Peninsula to charming Holly Lodge. Before long they’re enjoying snowshoe excursions, hot chocolates, and cuddling in front of a roaring fire. Despite some barely concealed marital tension between the owners of the lodge, they’re finally able to unwind . . .
Until one morning when they notice a glove sticking out of a snowbank outside of the lodge. Inside the glove is a hand connected to a frozen corpse buried beneath the snow–lodge owner Kevin Manning has been murdered. Presented with a stack of suspects and eventually stranded at the lodge by a blizzard, Marley has to catch the cold-hearted killer before someone else gets iced.
What do a ghost, a snowdrift, and a Christmas tree have in common?
I was happy that this mystery, like the rest of this series, caught my attention from the beginning and was hard to put down. While the series is enjoyable if read in order, each novel can easily be read as standalones. The settings are gorgeous, including the mountain lodge the couple goes to for a short getaway. The characters are endearing and vibrant, and the mystery kept me guessing.
Marley is the owner of a breakfast restaurant, The Flip Side, in Willowood Cove. She inherited that and the beautiful oceanside Victorian home from her cousin less than two years earlier, and she loves her life there. She and her husband Brett are still newlyweds and will soon celebrate their first Christmas as husband and wife. Marley seems to either find the remains of murdered people or get pulled into cases, but she does not pursue either. This delicious mystery includes fabulous foods served at The Flip Side, the breakfast restaurant Marley owns, and recipes are included.
Marley and Brett take a much-needed break and go to Holly Lodge in the mountains of the Olympic Peninsula. They are instantly at ease when they see the gorgeous scenery and comfortable furnishings of the lodge. Kevin and Rita are the owners and managers and are excellent hosts except for the disagreement they are having being overheard. The next morning, they learn Kevin has been missing since late the night before. They go snowshoeing around the lake and see a red-haired woman flitting through the woods in a long green dress that does not look adequate for the cold and snow. They later learn that the lake is haunted by the ghost of a woman who disappeared nearly a century earlier.
Later, they see something odd sticking out of a snowdrift; it looks like the fabric of the jacket Kevin had worn the day before. They hurriedly look deeper into the snow drift and are horrified to find the dead body of the missing man. After the sheriff arrives and investigates, it is determined that Kevin was murdered.
The lodge has lost its appeal, so Brent and Marley return to Willowood Cove the next day. Active in their community, Marley and Brett begin to help with the Festival of Trees, in which The Flip Side is decorating a tree with special ornaments. All the money raised in the festival will go to charity, and they hope it will become an annual tradition. When ornaments begin to go missing from trees decorated by the vendors, however, it could keep people from wanting to participate again. Marley also runs into two of the people who had been guests at Holly Lodge. One had recently moved to Willowood Cove, and the other was at the B&B owned by one of Marley’s friends, and is doing research for her next novel.
Marley and her friends are people I would enjoy having as neighbors. They genuinely care about each other and their community, from the festival that will benefit local charities to a single mom new in town. I enjoyed seeing the balance in the lives of the newlyweds; their life is included without weighing down the story.
The mysteries in this novel are very well plotted. Each one presents a challenge, especially the murder. It seems that Marley can’t escape that mystery, especially when Lily, the novelist, receives a threatening note. They return to Holly Lodge to pay respects at Kevin’s memorial service to find everyone who had been present the night of the murder. Being snowed in with a ghost and a murderer was not in their plans. I enjoyed watching the events unfold, from the community gatherings to Marley’s days at The Flip Side, to the people Marley talks with about the murder. The conclusion was completely satisfying; I highly recommend this cozy mystery and series!