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The Gingerbread Bump-off
Fresh Baked Mysteries, No 6
Livia J. Washburn

Nov 2011/ 978-0-451-23483-4
Mystery / Cozy

Reviewed by Laura Hinds

Phyllis Newsom has her hands full trying to help one of her tenants and best friends, Eve Turner, get ready for her bridal shower and wedding. It’s also almost Christmas, but when at the last minute Georgia Hallerbee asks Phyllis to add her house to the annual Jingle Bell tour, Phyllis can’t help but say yes.

She enjoys having another tenant, her friend Sam, help her get old decorations out of storage, buy new ones and then with plenty of other hands assisting, she is happy to see her home all decked out for the tour. Yet the night of the tour gets off to an awful start when Georgia shows up early and is murdered! She’s killed right on Phyllis’ front porch when she is bashed over the head with a large ceramic gingerbread man that was part of the display.

There is a whole host of suspects, and since she has helped solve previous murders, it is almost expected that she will get involved with this investigation. Phyllis doesn’t want to do so, but this murder is literally committed on her doorstep, and while setting out to collect money for flowers for Georgia’s funeral, she questions many of the suspects herself. Truth be told, that is what she wanted to do, but when the flower collection idea popped up, she ran with it. Lucky for her, she has Sam watching her back and being with her almost every step of the way.

As a fan of this series, I always look forward to finding out what Phyllis and her tenants will be up to next. There’s never a dull moment, but if there is even a lull in the action, Phyllis and or Carolyn (another tenant, and Phyllis baking rival in contests) will cook up a new cookie, pie or other dessert recipe. There are always several recipes at the back of the book, after the mystery is solved.

I also like that the main characters are retirees who have found their way into later-in-life friendships and a dash of romance is thrown in now and then. Phyllis and Sam have a sweet relationship, and in this book, Eve’s upcoming nuptials are almost as front and center as the murder.

Cozy fans, cooking fans, young and old and middle-aged readers will all get a kick out of this book. It’s well written, moves along smoothly and has enough twists and turns to keep you guessing as to motive and murderer until the end. This is a great Christmas season read, and would be a lovely holiday gift for anyone who loves to read a good seasonal mystery.

Reviewer Note: Holiday: Christmas
Reviewer Laura Hinds is the author of Are You Gonna Eat That Banana?
Reviewed 2011
© 2011