Pumpkin Spice Peril

Cupcake Bakery Mystery #12

By Jenn McKinlay

ISBN 9780451492654

Author’s website: jennmckinlay.com

Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie


In the twelfth Cupcake Bakery Mystery from New York Times bestselling author Jenn McKinlay, the Fairy Tale Cupcake crew follows the clever crumb trail of a killer who’s anything but cookie-cutter.

Life is all sugar and spice for the Fairy Tale Cupcake bakers–Melanie Cooper is engaged to the delectable Joe DeLaura, Angie Harper and her husband Tate are savoring married life, and the bakery is bustling with happy customers. Until one of their most valued cupcake connoisseurs ends up dead.

Local glass artist and cupcake lover Rene Fischer-Klein has always suffered from a wide variety of health issues. In an effort to cheer her up, her doting husband, Peter, brings her a four-pack of her favorite cupcakes every week. But when the police discover that Rene has been poisoned, there’s no sugarcoating the fact that the last things she ate were the bakery’s signature pumpkin spice cupcakes! With their lives and bakery at stake, it’s up to Mel and Angie to find out who poisoned their artist friend and why, before their future is frosted for good.


This cozy mystery was a fun, at times frightening, read! I appreciate sleuths who jump in to get justice for their friends or loved ones, or to get a friend or loved one “off the hook”. In this story, our sleuth wants to get justice for a friend even while trying to get that friend’s husband off the hook – and herself – for the murder. The characters are delightfully three-dimensional, the mystery did not have an easy solution, and sometimes friends have secrets best left unknown. Mel could end up in the pokey instead of marrying the love of her life!

Mel Cooper owns an upscale specialty bakery, Fairy Tale Cupcakes in Old Town Scottsdale, with friends and partners Angie and her husband Tate Harper. Mel is engaged to the love of her life, Joe DeLaura. Joe is one of Angie’s seven older brothers and a county district attorney. Her uncle Stan is a long-time detective for the Scottsdale police department.

Along with dreaming up new flavors and decorations for cupcakes, Mel has an unusual hobby. For some reason, Mel seems to be around when dead bodies are found. Often, they are people known by her or her friends, and some are not very nice folks. Mel has a way of finding clues, asking questions, and putting together what she discovers to figure out who committed the crime.

Mel and Angie have known Rene Fischer-Klein for several years. A talented glass artisan, Rene and her husband, Peter, have been an example of what Angie and Mel consider a perfect marriage. The older couple have been at Desert Winds Gallery for years. Mel, Angie, and Rene have been friends within the Old Town Scottsdale “family” since Fairy Tale Cupcakes opened. Peter came into the cupcake shop every Friday to get a four-pack of Rene’s current favorite. Currently, her favorite is pumpkin spice. Mel went to see Rene at her studio later that day to discuss the cupcakes for her upcoming opening of the new installation that will bring her world-wide acclaim in her craft. Rene’s huge, fabulous glass design will be on display over the Scottsdale city canal, in view of a high-end business and condo district.

Mel was shocked when she saw Rene. Her old friend looked as if she hadn’t slept well for a long time. Her weight was down, and she just looked ill. Even worse, Rene accused her of having an affair with Peter, and threw a glass creation at her. When she calmed down, she apologized, saying that the stress of the intense work she had been doing was affecting her, and at times it seemed like someone she didn’t know took over her personality.

It would be the last time Mel saw Rene alive. The following week, the day before the opening of her incredible artistry, Rene died. People thought at first that she had a heart attack. Mel had a feeling it was much worse than that, however, and she was right. Unfortunately, Rene had been poisoned. Really unfortunately, an anonymous tip had been called into the police station, claiming that the cupcakes Mel brought over the day Rene died were suspect because of the argument someone witnessed the week before when Mel was accused of an affair with Peter. It only gets worse from there. The police chief now wants to order an independent investigation of every murder case Mel has ever been associated with whether through friends or acquaintances. Food establishments have long been known for drug dealing or money laundering.

The characters in this novel are a great delight to know! Even so, there are surprises in this novel. Oz has a wild surprise for us this time, as does Angie. Each of our regulars is well-rounded, with more time spent showing us who they are than what they look like. It is still funny to hear Mel’s mother, Joyce’s, nickname for Joe!

Mel found out more about Rene and Peter than she wanted to know. One of the things she must determine is whether their secrets led to Rene’s death. Mel can’t see Peter as the bad guy, but she realized she didn’t know him that well, after all. I simply couldn’t come up with a motive for two of my pet suspects, though! I was somewhat surprised, then, when the real killer and motive were revealed. This mystery exceeded my expectations in every way, and I highly recommend it!

*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review as part of their ongoing blog tour*