Beyond a Reasonable Donut

Deputy Donut Mystery, Book #5

By Ginger Bolton

ISBN 9781496725585

Author Website:

Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie


In the fifth Deputy Donut Mystery by Agatha Award-nominated author Ginger Bolton, Emily Westhill, owner of the best donut shop in town, alongside her retired police chief father-in-law and her tabby cat Deputy Donut, is gearing up to man the donut tent at the annual Friday the 13th fair…

Selling her corn fritters at a carnival, Deputy Donut Café owner Emily Westhill faces off against a murderer who doesn’t play fair…

Emily and her assistant, Nina, are looking forward to manning the Deputy Donut tent at the Faker’s Dozen Carnival in Fallingbrook, Wisconsin–a festival held on Friday the thirteenth to celebrate good and bad luck. But Emily has barely dropped the corn fritters in oil when bad luck boils up. First, their bucket of confectioner’s sugar disappears–and then while a mime creates a distraction, a magician robs their cash register.

After the carnival, their misfortune continues. Emily discovers that someone has broken into artist Nina’s loft and vandalized a large painting in progress with the bucket of stolen sugar, which is now on the head of the mime, who seems to have been suffocated. Emily would bet Nina was the intended victim, but the cops think Nina silenced the mime. Now Emily must catch the killer white-handed–before someone else kicks the bucket. (Goodreads)


I had so much fun reading this cozy mystery! I enjoyed almost every minute of this visit to Fallingbrook and Deputy Donut, the best donut shop around. The author has created a perfect setting with the donut shop and gorgeous, late summer Midwest. The characters are defined well enough to almost step off the pages. The mystery is intriguing, with an excellent red herring and sufficient plot twists. I enjoyed the pets, Deputy Donut and Ivan.

Emily owns Deputy Donut with her father-in-law, Tom, the retired police chief. His son, Emily’s husband, was killed in the line of duty seven years ago, and she could no longer handle working in the 911 phone center. The unique donut and coffee specialty shop is loved by locals and tourists alike. The staff is like family, and many of the regulars like extended family.

Emily and her assistant, Nina, went to the Faker’s Dozen carnival celebrating Friday the 13th. The main treat they will serve is their special recipe for three varieties of corn fritters which, in honor of the festival, are called corny fritters. Early that morning, they discovered that the bucket of confectioner’s sugar they brought went missing. Either someone stole it from the vintage Deputy Donut car or from their tent as they unloaded the car.

They met an interesting group of new folks over the course of the day. One is a mime, who does imitations of Marsha, the crabby, overbearing event organizer. Rodeo Rod appears interested in Nina, while Alf, a tourist, seemed to be interested in Emily. There is also a magician who acted friendly at first, until Nina caught him stealing from their cash box while the mime distracted customers. The magician ran off with a fistful of five-dollar bills, the mime ran after him, with Nina sprinting after them, yelling threats ending in or else.

Nina designed the bouquets and floral arrangements for the upcoming wedding of their friends Samantha and Hooligan. She is also preparing for a big step toward realizing her dream, a one-woman art show scheduled with a respected gallery in Madison. All but one of her paintings has been crated for shipping; she only needs to finish her huge masterpiece and ship it. She plans to work on it after the festival. Emily dropped her off at the grocery store, then realized Nina’s bag and wallet were in the back of her car. She checked the store, then Nina’s apartment. She arrived to find Nina’s entry locks broken and doors ajar, confectioner’s sugar spilled in front of Nina’s masterpiece, and the mime, lying injured nearby with her head crammed in the bucket of sugar. After removing the bucket, Emily sees that the mime looks a lot like Nina.

Nina arrives, stunned to see the mess and the mime, who Emily is trying to help. The mime can barely breathe through lungs coated with sugar and later died at the hospital. Nina is the only suspect based on what Brent, a detective and close friend of Emily, and the state investigator find. Emily is convinced Nina was the real target and the mime mistaken for her after a car tried to run Nina over the next day but despite that, Nina is the one put in jail.

I like Emily and Nina best. They have worked together for about a year, and Emily is convinced Nina is innocent. She would know if Nina were the kind of person who would kill a stranger, wouldn’t she? Their customers are also upset, as they think the world of Nina, and are willing to do all they can to get her out of jail. I enjoy Brent and think as her friends do, that Emily and Brent would make a great couple.

This is a challenging mystery to solve, especially with information they learn about Nina’s background. Emily is determined to get her friend and employee off the suspect list and out of jail and asks questions of people who were around the mime and the magician. There is a healthy helping of humor, especially offsetting the crisis near the final resolution, and characters I hope will be passing through town again. The end is very satisfying with all loose ends tied up. I highly recommend this cozy mystery and series!