PUBLISHER: Gallery Books
RELEASE DATE: 29th Mar 2011
FORMAT: Paperback, 265 pages
A routine cake delivery becomes a culinary nightmare when a small-town baker discovers her first client’s dead body in this irresistible new mystery series. It’ll take more than a little sugar to convince folks Daphne Martin’s freshly baked spice cake was not to blame for the mysterious death of town gossip Yodel Watson. Getting her new cake decorating business, Daphne’s Delectable Cakes, off the ground is hard enough now that Daphne’s moved back to her southern Virginia hometown, but orders have been even slower since she found Yodel’s body. She soon realizes, however, that just about everybody in town had a reason to poison the cantankerous busybody, from the philandering pet shop owner, to Yodel’s church potluck nemesis, to the Save-A-Buck’s cranky produce manager-turned-bagger.
Now, to help prove she’s no confectionary killer, Daphne recruits her old flame, Ben Jacobs, editor of the local newspaper, and quickly stirs up a long-hidden family scandal that just might hold the secret ingredient she needs to solve the case. All she’s got to do is roll up her sleeves and get her hands a little dirty before the real culprit decides that taking sweet revenge on Daphne will be icing on the cake. (Goodreads)
MURDER TAKES THE CAKE by Gayle Trent is a light-hearted murder mystery novel that interweaves a serious crime into a gossip-centred society, as well as serving up some delicious slices of cake along the way.
The novel begins with Daphne Martin’s return to the small community of Brea Ridge to open her own cake decorating company, Daphne’s Delectable Cakes. She is trying to start afresh after a divorce from her abusive husband and is following her dreams to open her own business. Her first client is Yodel Watson, a stubborn, bitter old lady for whom nothing is ever good enough. It is Daphne’s third attempt to get the cake right, after the first was too fancy and the second too plain, and she is beginning to lose her patience.
Upon delivering this third cake Daphne discovers Yodel’s body slouched in her armchair, and gets thrown into a police investigation that soon becomes a murder inquiry. As she was the one to find the body, the community suspects that her cakes could be to blame, leaving Daphne to face an inspection of her kitchen and cakes for any irregularities.
Despite being ruled out of the investigations it is still a fight for Daphne to build up the reputation of her business, especially when she gets dragged into the mystery by Yodel’s daughter, who asks her to seek out a gossip diary kept by the old lady. This diary could be the key to solving the murder, as it details all the goings on in the town and some secrets that were better kept hidden.
Everyone seems to have their secrets, from the worst-kept affair to illegitimate children and everything in between. Then there are always those who love to gossip about it, with Daphne’s neighbour Myra getting a particular mention, as she frequently goes around to gossip over coffee and cake. However, it is not just the town’s secrets that Daphne needs to be wary of, as she may not like what she discovers about her own family. Did her mother really have an affair all those years ago? And does Daphne have a secret half-brother?
As for Daphne’s love life, she is not looking for anyone new since her divorce, but takes the opportunity to reconnect with her childhood sweetheart, Ben. They used to be inseparable, but going to different colleges pushed them apart and they lost contact with each other. Now they’re 40 is it too late for a reunion, or is there still a spark between them?
I really enjoyed reading this book, as it was a really cosy novel that you can easily devour and there wasn’t an overly serious focus on crime and investigating. Daphne merely stumbles across clues without meaning to, but realises that she may be the only one with enough knowledge to decipher who the culprit really is. She is very much thrown into being the heroine, as after her abusive marital past she would be happy to stay in the safety of her own life and not become involved in anyone else’s.
I turned forty this year. Forty seems to be a sobering age for every woman, but it hit me especially hard. When most women get to be my age, they at least have some bragging rights: successful career, happy marriage, beautiful children, nice home. I had none of the above.
Despite liking the fact that the heroine comes across clues almost by accident, there were some instances that felt a little too convenient for me, particularly as the book draws to a close. Although it may not be easy to guess the identity of the murderer, which always gives a surprise in the crime genre, I was disappointed with how quickly the plot was wrapped up. As soon as the culprit is revealed they are apprehended almost immediately, with very little explanation of the hows and whys of the crime. I would have liked to have seen a little more detail in this scene, just to remove some of the unanswered questions.
The aspect I most enjoyed in this book was Daphne’s profession as a cake decorator. It made a great contrast to traditional crime novels, particularly as the author gifts us with lavish descriptions of many varieties of cake and their decorations. However, even with this there was a slight issue for me, as some of the description felt too mechanical, as if it was a cookbook and not fiction. This is fine if you’re planning on recreating some of these decorations, but I didn’t feel it was written as creatively as it could have been. On a side note, if you do love the cakes featured in the book there are a few recipes included at the end, which I think is a great feature and really adds something new. Definitely a book for you to sink your teeth into, quite literally!
A book to grab your duvet and snuggle up with, MURDER TAKES THE CAKE is a cosy mystery novel that leaves you with a warm-hearted feeling even after the last page is turned. The murderer may not be immediately apparent and the ending a little rushed, but the main character will capture your imagination and you may well be inspired to try out some of the cake recipes for yourself!
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
- Murder Takes the Cake
- Dead Pan
- Killer Sweet Tooth
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