Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, September 17, 2018

My Series-ous Reading gets a taste of the Bard from Meet Your Baker

It's no secret that I've developed a taste for foodie themed mysteries of late and one of the advantages of resetting my Series-ous Reading schedule was adding the first book in Ellie Alexander's Bakeshop Mystery titles,Meet Your Baker.

Yes, that is meant as in "meet your maker" and the series does have a suitable dramatic flair to it,along with a nice note of whimsy as well. The culinary heroine of our story is Juliet Montague Capshaw,known as Jules, who returns to her home town of Ashland, which is home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

The whole town is centered around the live productions that keep the tourists coming,with businesses having names like A Rose By Any Other Name,Puck's Pub and The Merry Widow. While Jules is happy to help her widowed mother out at their family owned bakery called Torte, she can't help noticing the tension caused by a new arrival in Ashland.

Nancy Hudson has paid her way to a prominent place on the OSF board and quick to make plenty of enemies with her obnoxious attitude and less than subtle insults. On first encountering Nancy, Jules is happy not to have to host the Midnight Club gathering at Torte later that evening as no doubt the feuds going on between theatrical director Lance and established diva Caroline with Nancy will continue there:

When Jules go in to open up the bakery the next morning, she can't avoid Nancy at all, due to the fact that she's lying dead on the kitchen floor among a batch of broken jars of raspberry jam.

Even with knowing one of the officers on the case,who happens to be her high school sweetheart Timothy, Jules is uneasy about who might be unjustly accused of the crime and winds up getting involved in the investigation.

The suspect list is rather long but Jules does learn a few things that can aid Timothy, who is hoping for a promotion as well as impressing the lead detective known as the Professor,due to his love of quoting Shakespeare on a regular basis:

Before long, Jules uncovers a number of secrets and lies that not only shed light on the murder but stirs up some new troubles for her friends and neighbors,one of whom may be out to do her in to boot.

Ellie Alexander does capture the tone of small town life nicely without getting too cutesy and gives her leading lady a good amount of character development that feels just right. Juliet is a baker in her own right and her return home is also a separation from her chef husband Carlos, who was keeping a major secret from her that will surely break up their marriage.

Jules is also dealing with her mother's business troubles(she's in debt and could lose the bake shop to a local creep) on top of that as well as the murder yet her best stress relief is cooking. I love that amid all of the swirling chaos around, she takes the time to show one of Torte's employees the fine art of appreciating figs and making a sweetly savory dish out of them. It's true culinary comfort which makes the overall story so inviting and delicious:

All in all, I did enjoy this first outing with Juliet Capshaw and company and plan on making a few more. For one, I can't resist the gorgeously punny titles in this series such as A Batter of Life and Death, On Thin Icing, Fudge and Jury, A Crime of Passion Fruit and Caught Bread Handed(that last one I think I like the best!).

 I also want to find out if Jules really does leave Carlos and hooks up with Timothy, not to mention her mom has a budding romance with the Professor as well! Love, cake and murder, not a bad combo here,story wise.

At the moment, my next Series-ous Reading selection is Joanne Fluke's Blueberry Muffin Murder, which is set in the dead of winter and such a relief from the late summer weather in my neck of the woods. However, I do want to head back to Ashland soon because it very hard to resist the Bard:

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