Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Review: "Cookie Dough or Die" (2011)

"I'm surprised you're not fat," Olivia teased her brother.

"I'm surprised you're not in jail," Jason said, just before forcing another half of a sandwich into his mouth.
Synopsis: Niche cookie-cutter boutique becomes ground zero for an all-family squabble over inheritance, past sins and murder -- yes, murder. Bonus points for the canine sidekick, no matter what the health department would say.

Grade: B+

I confess, I usually eschew niche cozies that don't involve food. Call me crazy, call me focused, but there are so many culinary mysteries out there to read that I need some sort of focus in order to not be buried under an avalanche of books that need reading. Not that they don't all need reading.

I picked this book up, though, based on the title and cover. Admit it: Cookie Dough or Die is a fantastic title. And then once I started reading, I was hooked. And there's a dog in it.

Olivia Greyson owns The Gingerbread House, a cookie cutter boutique somewhere in or near Maryland, with her best friend Maddie and her rescue dog, Spunky. When her mentor Clarisse is found dead, Olivia's thrown for a loop, and even more so when it turns out to be murder. When it turns out Clarisse left Olivia a hoard of antique cookie-cutters, she basically does a loop-de-loop. But the murderer really wants the secrets kept, their identity never found and oh yeah, all the cookie cutters back.

Very smooth and enjoyable writing. Great quirky characters -- Maddie, the best friend is flighty and sparkly, Olivia's interesting, her love interest, the sheriff, is not obnoxious in the least, and Spunky basically steals the show.

Lowell does a ton of things right in this book: even though Olivia decides to solve the mystery, she never forgets that she has a business to run and a dog to walk, and she prioritizes those well. She has a great support network in Maddie and her mom, but the flow of the story remains well-anchored to the idea that the mystery-solving protagonist is first and foremost a small business owner.

Loved the rest of the townspeople, especially the very terrible newspaper editor, loved the crazy family. It was a little hard to believe the sheriff went along with Olivia's plans for confronting the murderer, but I guess love makes people do strange things.

Will definitely be continuing on with the series.

Monday, September 5, 2011

oh honey honey I'm telling you -- a woman's work is never done

Andrew’s eyes followed a single drop of water rolling toward her cleavage.

She said, “You know how I got like this?”

“What do you mean?”

She caressed his forearm with electric blue fingernails. He trembled. “Don’t be so polite. You know what I mean. How I lost weight. How I got hot. You remember those nicknames they called me, right? Lard Ass and Rosie O and The Beached Whale –”

“They shouldn’t have –”

“Done that. I know, but I don’t care. It’s all in the past cause of Mom.
Fucked up, feminine and awesome: Skinny Latte, a short story by Chris Rhatigan, over at Shotgun Honey.