Title: Murder at the Church Picnic

Series: A Mallory Beck Cozy Culinary Caper

By:  Denise Jaden

ISBN13: 9798574588819

Website: denisejade(.)com

Brought to you by OBS reviewer Andra                   


Murder has such a sting!

If anyone had told Mallory Beck she would become Honeysuckle Grove’s next amateur sleuth, she would have thought they were ten walnuts short of a brownie. Her late husband had been the mystery novelist with a penchant for the suspicious. She was born for the muffin pan, not the binoculars, and yet here she was, having just solved her first murder case. It had all started with delivering a casserole to a grieving family and finished with the help of a sarcastic teenager, a cop with kind-hearted green eyes, and a cat with a hunch.

Maybe she should have thought twice about delivering another casserole. But this one was for the potluck at the annual church picnic, and what could possibly go wrong at a picnic? (Goodreads)


Murder at the Church Picnic is the second book in the delightful Mallory Beck Cozy Culinary Caper series by Denise Jaden. Mallory Beck (the amateur sleuth) along with her new friend from a prior murder she solved, 15-year-old Amber (whom lost her father in the first book), embark upon another adventure in trying to solve a tragedy that occurred at a church picnic. Mallory is giving Amber cooking lessons (lucky for Amber that Mallory has a culinary degree) and still working through the gambit of emotions when one loses a spouse (writer Cooper Beck) prematurely – just nine months ago. I really feel that the two together are helping each other with their own personal losses.

Amber, with assistance from Mallory, has made a casserole to take to a church picnic in Bateman Park. And let me tell you, the description of the casserole has me jonesing for this particular casserole (with three types of potatoes: nugget, a couple of Yukon gold and vitelotte purple potatoes (with a characteristic nutty flavor and smell of chestnuts) and apple-smoked bacon – can you say yummy)! Everything should have been good, except for the fact that the venue at the park was double booked – for the church picnic and a park wedding. Yikes – that spells trouble in a major way (poor Pastor Jeff – trying to placate the bridal party). Unfortunately for the bride-to-be, Candi, she did not make it down the isle to wedded bliss. This certainly played havoc with the church fundraising picnic as well! Did Candi die from a bee sting or was Candi murdered… and on her wedding day? And there you have it – a mystery to be solved!

Another character which I am happy to see again – Hunch, who is recovering from a broken leg and dislocated hip (poor kitty) and this just added to his surly attitude since his human, Cooper, passed away. I can hardly wait for the day when he actually warms up just a wee bit to Mallory. Of course – being a smart individual – I will not hold my breath ☺. His assistance in the solving of the mystery was invaluable. I am delighted at the continued development of the personal relationships that began in book one and are continuing in book two (especially the potential for a romance in the future with Alex? Time will tell). 

The depth of these relationships adds to the complexity of this delightful cozy mystery series.

The plot twists and turns kept me engaged throughout and a bit stumped – just the way I like my cozy mysteries. I tend to be light on details here as I want each reader to enjoy the journey as much as I did.

I must also expound upon my enjoyment of Denise Jaden’s writing, which flows well and kept me interested in her storytelling. I cannot wait until I get to start book 3, Murder at the Town Hall