Breach of Crust
A Charmed Pie Shoppe Mystery #5
By Ellery Adams
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
Ella Mae LeFaye’s delicious pies are still drawing long lines—as well as the attention of Beatrice Burbank, president of the Camellia Club, a philanthropic organization comprised of high-society Southern ladies from the charming and affluent town of Sweet Briar, Georgia. To ensure the success of their centennial dessert cookbook, Bea hires Ella Mae to teach the tasty tricks of her trade to the club’s members at their annual retreat. Eager to work on new recipes for customers with food allergies and dietary restrictions, Ella Mae readily agrees.
But when Ella Mae finds Bea’s body floating in Lake Havenwood, she wonders what she’s gotten herself mixed up in. Someone certainly wanted Bea to eat humble pie, and the retreat offers no shortage of unsavory characters, including Ella Mae’s longtime nemesis, Loralyn Gaynor. Ella Mae definitely doesn’t need magic to tell her she must find the killer before someone else gets panned. (Goodreads)
Breach of Crust is an enchanting addition to the Charmed Pie Shoppe Mystery series, and Ms. Adams never fails to captivate me with her setting, characters, and strong plots.
After the culmination of events in the last book, Lemon Pies and Little White Lies, Ella Mae finds herself in the unique situation of not having to worry about her “destiny” to be the Clover Queen and has the opportunity to simply live life for a change. She has reconciled with her love Hugh, who is also adjusting to life without magical abilities, and things are looking up. Even though her pies are no longer infused with magic, they are as popular as ever. When Bea Burbank of the Camellia Club, a high society philanthropic organization from a nearby town, approaches Ella Mae to teach the club members pie making at their upcoming retreat and contribute to their decennial cookbook, she agrees. Mere hours after Ella Mae drops off her signed contract, she finds Bea’s body floating in the lake. Her death does not settle well with Ella Mae, and she wonders what secrets the Camellia’s might be hiding.
In addition to dealing Bea’s suspicious death, the LeFaye’s former foe Opal Gaynor implores Ella Mae to find her missing daughter Loralyn. Even though Loralyn has always been and remains Ella Mae’s nemesis, she feels compelled to help Opal before time runs out. In a sign of appreciation for Ella Mae’s sacrifices for the magical community, the Elders ask her to be their ambassador, and she agrees asking that they, in turn, help her locate Loralyn and maybe even find an “object of power” that could save Opal.
I have said this before, but it bears repeating. Ellery Adams is one of the best writers of cozy mystery fiction out there, and Breach of Crust does not disappoint. Her characters are well drawn and developed, and yet they continue to grow with each book. They are all appealing, including those that we love to hate. Ella Mae, her delightful aunts and mother, and her friends are people who I think I would love to know in real life. Even though magic is an integral part of the books, its presence is completely believable. Ms. Adams descriptions of the small town Georgia setting, the pie shop, and Ella Mae’s mother’s gardens are wholly inviting and place the reader right there with the characters and action.
The mystery played out in Breach of Crust is strong and interesting, but it does take somewhat of a backseat to Ella Mae’s other interests this time around. However, this does not take away any enjoyment of the tale. Ms. Adams weaves the complexity of mother-daughter relationships, regret, trust, the finality of illness and the constant of change together with an action packed investigation and an evolving relationship of friend vs. foe to make one entertaining read.
I highly recommend Breach of Crust to fans of Ellery Adams, paranormal cozies, and even those who do not think they want some magic sprinkled in their mystery, and those who seek smart writing and great characters.