Dying for Devil’s Food
Cupcake Bakery Mystery #11
By Jenn McKinlay
Author’s website: jennmckinlay.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
It’s going to take every recipe the Fairy Tale Cupcake crew
has to whip up a quick defense for Mel Cooper when her high school reunion goes
from a cakewalk to a car wreck…
Melanie Cooper has zero interest in catering her fifteen-year high school reunion, but Angie insists it’s only right that they bask in the success of Fairy Tale Cupcakes–and Mel’s engagement to the delicious Joe DeLaura is the cherry on top!
Everything is going better than expected until Cassidy Havers, resident mean girl and Mel’s high school nemesis, picks a fight. No longer willing to put up with Cassidy’s bullying, Mel is ready to tell the former homecoming queen to shut her piehole and call it a night. But as Mel and Joe prepare to depart, Cassidy is found dead in the girl’s bathroom, next to a note written in lipstick that points right to Mel — making her the prime suspect.
Now, Mel must follow the clues to find the real killer and keep her reputation from being frosted for a crime she didn’t commit.
What a delight it is to visit Fairy Tale Cupcakes again! Best of friends since school days, Mel, Angie, and Tate have been best business partners for several years. Mel and Joe, Angie’s brother, are planning to marry in the near future. Their cupcake business has been so successful that it now has franchises around the country. When their 15th class reunion party nears, Mel doesn’t want to attend or cater 500 cupcakes. No matter how successful the business is, Mel doesn’t want to revisit the awful days of being bullied by some of the people they will see at the reunion. With sensitivity and dignity, the author handles a situation that is as caustic and damaging today as it was in generations past, perhaps more so with use of the internet and social media.
Mel finally agrees to cater and attend the reunion with Joe, Angie, and Tate. One of the first people she sees is her long-term nemesis and tormenter, Cassidy Havers-Griffin, now the wife of Dan Griffin, former Phoenix Suns basketball star. Mel had tutored Dan and had a secret crush on him for a few of her school years, and he was always kind to her. Now he is a sportscaster and travels frequently with the teams he reports for. But what did he do to deserve a wife like Cassidy?
Cassidy was the original school bully, and time and marriage haven’t mellowed her. She drinks too much, which fuels her hateful words and actions. When Dan asked Mel to dance at the reunion, Cassidy had a fit. She and one of her partners in nastiness, Dwight, began the old taunting, starting with how Mel had not always been slender and gorgeous – she’s only a fraction of the girl she used to be. She threatens Mel to stay away from “her man” and calls her by the hated nickname, “melephant”. My favorite line of the reunion was “you can’t hurt me anymore.”
When Mel stepped in the ladies’ restroom, she saw Cassidy, looking as if she passed out in a chair in the lounge. Trying to silently back out without awakening her, two other women from the reunion entered. Brittany, who thought she should be the one to marry Dan, and Lianne, an ER nurse, took a closer look at Cassidy, and she wasn’t passed out or napping. She was dead. And Mel, the one Cassidy was the meanest too, is in the wrong place at the wrong time.
When homicide detectives Uncle Stan and his partner Tara Martinez arrive, Tara finds “Mel” written on the wall of one of the stalls in the same color lipstick that Cassidy was holding. One of Cassidy’s entourage told the crowd in the lobby that the cupcakes were poisoned, raising. Mel knows that the only way to get herself off the hook is to figure out who at the reunion would have killed Cassidy. While Cassidy typically made enemies of most people, Mel couldn’t imagine killing someone fifteen years after the torment ended.
The characters are very well defined and likable except for the mean girls. I was impressed with how loyal Mel’s employees are that they are willing to risk themselves to keep her safe. Cassidy is a fine portrait of the nemesis many of us faced in school with the exception of getting involved in physical fisticuffs. The fact that Mel was able to turn one of Cassidy’s entourage into a friend is also impressive. What I found interesting was the perspective of one of Cassidy’s friends when explaining to Mel why Cassidy resented her, giving insight that was unknown to most people.
It was hard to determine who the real killer was! Photos and time lines were explored, as well as visitors at the wake and at the funeral. I could not figure out who the bad guy or gal was! It was beyond challenging at times, and I was quite surprised to see who did it. I highly recommend Dying for Devil’s Food – it is the perfect cozy mystery that brings its own chocolate and serves it up with humor, wisdom, and love!
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*