TWO PARTS SUGAR, ONE PART MURDER by Valerie Burns
SERIES: A Baker Street Mystery #1
GENRE: Cozy Mystery
PUBLISHER: Kensington Cozies
RELEASE DATE: August 30, 2022
In a brand-new culinary cozy series with a fresh edge and a delightful small-town setting, the acclaimed author introduces Maddy Montgomery, a social media expert who’s #StartingOver in small town Michigan after inheriting her great-aunt’s bakery…and a 200-pound English Mastiff named Baby.
When Maddy Montgomery’s groom is a no-show to their livestream wedding, it’s a disaster that no amount of filtering can fix. But a surprise inheritance offers a chance to regroup and rebrand—as long as Maddy is willing to live in her late, great-aunt Octavia’s house in New Bison, Michigan, for a year, running her bakery and caring for a 250-pound English mastiff named Baby.
Maddy doesn’t bake, and her Louboutins aren’t made for walking giant dogs around Lake Michigan, but the locals are friendly and the scenery is beautiful. With help from her aunt’s loyal friends, aka the Baker Street Irregulars, Maddy feels ready to tackle any challenge, including Octavia’s award-winning cake recipes. That is, until New Bison’s mayor is fatally stabbed, and Maddy’s fingerprints are found on the knife . . .
Something strange is going on in New Bison. It seems Aunt Octavia had her suspicions, too. But Maddy’s going to need a whole lot more than a trending hashtag to save her reputation—and her life.
“Everyone is a suspect in Valerie Burns’s entertaining new mystery, filled with surprising twists, suspicious characters and a mastiff named Baby who will win your heart. Top that off with humor and delicious recipes and you have a delight of a cozy.” —Valerie Wilson Wesley, author of A Fatal Glow
I’m a big fan of this author’s books, and as soon as I saw the cover of Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder I knew I had to read it. Isn’t it fabulous? And as I dove between the pages, I saw how perfectly the cover fits the story, and I loved it even more.
Maddy comes barreling on the scene with her phone in one hand and her heart in the other. She’s spoiled, yes, and she’s been sheltered her whole life by her overprotective Admiral father. But she also has a good head on her shoulders and a sincere spirit that makes her savvy, approachable, and almost-instantly likable. When you match her big heart with that of her newly-inherited English mastiff, Baby, you have a lovable team that makes you smile at every turn. The supporting characters that make up the Baker Street Irregulars (an amateur sleuthing ‘ring’ that represent a variety of ages and personalities) are just as easy to love and I’m eager for future books to spend more time with all of the above.
The mystery is really well done in this first book – with some elements that I suspect will carry on into at least the next book and maybe the whole series (something I really enjoy). Don’t worry, the main murder is solved by the end of Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder but there is at least one ‘background’ murder that I don’t think we’ve solved yet. And another highly suspicious death that I think Maddy won’t easily let go – both of these additional deaths could be accidents but, since this is a cozy mystery series after all, I don’t think they are. To me, this was an ingenious plot decision by the author because it keeps we readers on our toes and keeps us uncertain of who we can trust (including characters that are Maddy’s new friends & a potential romantic interest) as we go into the next book. Something I need to read, like, right now.
Bottom Line: Take one spoiled-but-big-hearted social media expert who can’t cook or bake; mix together with an inherited bakery, an inherited house, and an inherited 250-pound dog with a 1000 pound personality; toss all ingredients with a cast of diverse & likable characters, and sprinkle with a good dose of humor & a gaggle of amateur sleuths … and you’ve got the recipe for another delightfully entertaining and layered cozy mystery by Valerie Burns. Even though one particular murder is solved by the end of this first book, there are still two deaths that remain mysterious and I’m still not entirely sure who to trust. Make room on your TBR pile for this new series – you don’t want to miss it!
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4 stars / loved it!
Valerie (V. M.) Burns is the author of the Mystery Bookshop Mystery series. Her first book, The Plot is Murder, was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Debut Novel. She is the author of the Dog Club Mystery Series, the RJ Franklin Mysteries, a three-time finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, and an Edgar Award-nominated short story. Her newest series, Baker Street Mysteries, releases in 2022, and her Pet Detective Mystery series will release in 2023. Valerie is on the board of Sisters in Crime and the Southeastern Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. She is also a member of Dog Writers of America, Crime Writers of Color, and International Thriller Writers. She is a manager for a Fortune 100 company and a mentor in the Writing Popular Fiction Program at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA. Born and raised in northwestern Indiana, Valerie currently lives in the southeastern United States with her two poodles. Readers can visit her website at vmburns.com.
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