Cake & Punishment
By Maymee Bell
A Southern Cake Baker Mystery #1
Crooked Lane Books, 2018
In the first of a delectable new Southern-set baking cozy series, Sophia Cummings, pastry chef extraordinaire, must craft the perfect cake for an old friend’s wedding while sifting through the suspects in a murder.
Bucolic Rumford, Kentucky has glowing fields of bluegrass, a fine selection of bourbons, and now a professional pastry chef. Broken-hearted Sophia Cummings has come home from New York City. She’s not there a minute before she’s charmed into making her high school friend Charlotte’s wedding cake. The kitchen at the Rumford Country Club seems perfect until Chef Emile’s body is discovered, sprawled near the stove, a cast iron skillet on the floor close by.
With one look at the shiny, new frying pan, Sophia knows it’s not Emile’s. She offers her knowledge to Sheriff Carter and her talents to Evelyn, the manager, who needs an interim chef. The mood in the country club is grim: Emile’s peppery personality had burned members and staff alike. Sophia wonders which one of them burned him?
Cake & Punishment, book #1 in Maymee Bell’s new series, is a delightfully satisfying cozy mystery. The “city girl returning to her small hometown” theme that works so well for Hallmark works here also. It’s easy to feel Sophia’s uncertainty … go back to her job at The Manhattan in NYC job or put down roots in Rumford, Kentucky? The setting and community are so appealing that I’d love to visit and eat one of Sophia’s Red Velvet Crunchies.
There’s also plenty of southern charm and humor to go around. Sophia’s mom, Bitsy, is one of my favorite characters, for she embodies the warmth, charm, and traditions of a true southern lady. I’m pretty sure that, like my own mom, she would have put away her white shoes and handbag on Labor Day and dutifully brought them out again on Easter.
Friendships with ladies like Charlotte and Madison also play a big part in this story, as they lend a sense of bonding and community. Some good chemistry between Sophia and Sheriff Carter suggests that a relationship might be developing for them.
And then there’s the murder mystery itself. Rarely do I pick up on hints the author might scatter here or there, but I did notice one little thing that caused me to wonder about halfway through. However, I was actually more interested in whether or not Charlotte’s wedding took place than the whodunit part – but let me quickly say that this is a well-crafted mystery.
The only thing I didn’t care for was the occasional use of profanity.
I received a copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
Maymee Bell is the pen name of USA Today Bestselling author Tonya Kappes.
She lives in Kentucky with her family and her two schnauzers. She likes strong coffee, slow-country days, and fresh-baked cookies – but she like telling stores best of all.
This is her first SOUTHERN BAKER MYSTERY.
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