4 stars out of 5
Generally speaking, I'm drawn to so-called "cozy" mysteries for one reason only: They provide refreshing respites in between the mind-bending murder mysteries and thrillers that constitute most of my reading list. So it was with this one, an advance copy I requested, and received, in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley. And like most others I've read, it's an engaging story and short enough that I finished it in one day. It is the second in the "Pancake House" series featuring shop owner Marley McKinney (the first is The Crepes of Wrath, which I have not read (a fact that had no bearing on my enjoying this one, BTW).
Marley and the other characters in this book - including her boyfriend Brett - for the most part are a likable lot, although I can't say I developed any real affinity for any of them. Marley just can't manage to keep her nose out of everyone else's business (not unlike most cozy mystery heroines, actually -- after all, without their overstepping boundaries and getting involved in situations where they're not welcome, there'd be no plot). Suffice it to say if I were one of Marley's neighbors, though, I'd be looking at moving someplace else.
Also as expected, there's murder without mayhem, love without sex, and a town in which hardly anyone drinks anything stronger than peach tea. Heck, just kissing someone you shouldn't have seems to be an unforgivable transgression in this burg. But after all, such is the stuff cozy mysteries are made of - and part of what makes them fun to read.
Marley, who used to live in Seattle, inherited the Flip Side restaurant in Wildwood Cove. Deciding to give it a go, she relocated, found a kitty companion she appropriately named Flapjack, and renewed her childhood acquaintance with Brett. But there's an older gal in town - Ida Winkler - who's causing trouble at every turn; Marley is certain the crotchety woman is behind the graffiti that's twice been painted on the shop's exterior. Shortly thereafter, Marley buys a lamp base at an antique store, but it's stolen almost from under her nose by - you guessed it - Ida.
When Marley goes to Ida's house to confront her over the theft, she finds the lamp base - along with a very dead Ida (the base, it appears, is the murder weapon). So when Marley summons the local police, she finds herself in the position of person of interest. Not good for business, Marley concludes; her shop will suffer when word gets around town that she's a suspect. So, she sets out to find the killer and establish her own innocence - even after the police and most of her friends advise her to ceast and desist.
Needless to say, those admonitions fall on deaf ears, and Marley plods ahead - turning up clues that all the professional investigators somehow miss. Predictably, her efforts land her in water hotter than she pours over the tea in her shop and put her very life in danger. Will she survive to see another pancake-flipping day? My lips are sealed (well, I'll open them in a heartbeat if she offers me one of those tempting treats from her shop, but I won't hold my breath till then). Meantime, if you want to find out, go read the book for yourself.
For Whom the Bread Rolls: A Pancake House Mystery by Sarah Fox (Random House LLC, March 2017).