Monday, March 6, 2017

REVIEW: Kneaded to Death

Kneaded to Death
Author: Winnie Archer

Ivy Culpepper moves back home to California after her mother dies in a hit-and-run accident. Ivy is grieving and trying to learn to live life without her mother. She finds a local bread bakery, Yeast of Eden, and decides to take a bread making class. The shop owner, Olaya Dias, and her sisters are very special people. Ivy feels an instant connection to them. But, during the first baking class, one student goes outside to take a phone call and never comes back. Ivy, Olaya and a couple baking class students go outside to the parking lot looking for the missing class member, Jackie. Not only do they discover two men about to fight in the parking lot, but they find Jackie's body in her car. She has been murdered. Suddenly, Ivy finds herself involved in a very complex murder case and implications that it might have connections much closer to home.

Kneaded to Death is the first book in the new Bread Shop Mystery series. I am a big fan of culinary cozy mysteries, so when I noticed this was the start of a new series, I just had to read this book! I'm glad I did! The mystery portion of the plot is well-paced, more complex than most cozies, and filled with possible suspects and unexpected twists. The sub-plots of Ivy's family grieving the death of her mother, the almost magical bakery and details about bread and baking really made this a rich, interesting culinary cozy. There was more substance to this story than most cozies. It wasn't overly cute and cuddly, but a real, serious mystery. There is mention of the supernatural in that Olaya admits to being a Bruja, but it's a minor portion of the story. And, there is a dog....a cute rescue pug.....but the dog is not magical or an integral part of the plot. Too many cozy mysteries use the tropes of magical supernatural pets, ghosts, witches, etc. This book mentioned magic and witches, but only to the extent that Olaya is a healer and uses her hands and talents to bake wonderful bread. Kudos to Winnie Archer for writing a great debut cozy with just the right amount of color and culinary subplot.....without falling prey to the tendency for cozies to go too far towards the cute and cuddly leaving the mystery portion of the plot to languish and falter.

I am definitely going to read future books in this series! This book is well-written and an intriguing read. Plus, there are recipes in the back as well! I'm learning to bake bread so that part of the plot was fun for me! At one point a student in the cooking class forgot to add the yeast to her dough so she had to have help to fix her mistake -- I smiled at that point. That would be me, if I was in Olaya's class. I am not a natural baker.....I'm learning, but have had several loaves that just didn't work. My dogs love it when that happens as they get to eat the mistakes! I loved the theme for this debut in a new series, and I'm definitely on board for the next book!!

**I voluntarily read an Advance Readers Copy of this book from Kensington via NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.**

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