Saturday, January 29, 2011

Review: Sprinkle with Murder, by Jenn McKinlay (2010)

Sprinkle with Murder by Jenn McKinlay:
"Mom, is this another ploy of yours to push Tate and me together?"

"Now why would you ask a thing like that?"

"Because two weeks ago, you locked us in the walk-in cooler in the bakery, and we almost froze to death because you thought a near-death experience might bring us to our senses about our feelings for each other. Or does that little episode not ring a bell?"

"I should have left you in for five more minutes."

Synopsis: The best culinary mystery I nearly didn't read.

Even the recipes rocked.

Now, I really liked this book, even though the first five pages are really, really rough. I mean sanding the door down before painting it rough. The rhythm of the language is very staccato, some of the paragraphs are a little disjointed, and who owns the POV is difficult to establish. Being that I have the attention span of a ferret with a pixy stick, I idly flipped to the back to read the author's blurb. I love author blurbs. They tell you so much: how paranoid an author is about their real identity or other pseudonyms, whether or not they live in the place they're writing about, how seriously they take themselves. And author photos are the bomb. Again with the wealth of information*.

Jenn McKinlay's author blurb begins: "Jenn McKinlay is a dessert freakasaurus. She has been known to eat leftover birthday cake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and the frozen top tier of her wedding cake didn't stand a chance of seeing its first anniversary."

And I thought, Jenn, I am with you. I will get through your book. And I picked up where I left off.

Which is fortunate, because this book rocks. The characters are well-drawn and interesting, they interact well, they exhibit poor decision-making skills and compassion at the same time, the writing smooths out** and the mystery is mysterious without being overly complicated or draggy.

Childhood pals Angie and Mel open a cupcake bakery in Scottsdale, AZ, with the backing of their other childhood friend, Tate. Hence it's a no-brainer that the bakery will provide cupcakes for Tate's wedding, even if it's to Christie the bridezilla. They send over some samples for her to try, but when she provides no feedback, Mel goes over to her studio and finds the bride totally dead with a cupcake clutched in her talons. Cue the mayhem.

Mel is of course, the primary suspect. This is complicated by her Uncle Stan being on the Scottsdale PD force and Angie's brother Joe being an ADA. Also, her mother painted her bathroom bright orange and the baker across town is hopping mad at being cut out of cupcakes and is stalking the store in a bright pink van. Tate has issues. Angie has issues. Mel's mother has a subscription. Despite all this, at no point does Mel describe herself in terms of extreme narcissistic self-love, and she and Angie keep right on running a bakery while trying to solve the crime and clear Mel's name.

The ending felt a little hm..., but at the same time totally plausible. You really don't know all your neighbors secrets, nor should you.

Will definitely be picking up the sequel.

*For instance, even if you never read Richard Kadrey's Butcher Bird, you should totally check out the author photo. It speaks volumes.
**No, not like the top of a well-frosted cupcake. Give me some credit, I'm not a complete hack.

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