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Eclair and Present Danger
An Emergency Dessert Squad Mystery #1
Laura Bradford

Berkley Prime Crime
June 7, 2016 / ISBN 978-0-425-28089-8
Mystery/Cozy/Amateur Sleuth

Reviewed by Laura Hinds


Bakery owner Winnie Johnson has been worrying about how to save her bake shop when the landlord is raising the rent sky-high, so when a wealthy neighbor, Gertrude Redenbacher passes away, and Winnie learns she's in the will, she hopes for an inheritance.

She's shocked and surprised to learn that what she inherited is not money, but rather a vintage ambulance and a cat named Lovey. Lovey, who seems to love everyone BUT Winnie!

Despondent over the loss of her business, Winnie carries out the wishes of another late neighbor and delivers a weekly peach pie to the widower, Bart Wagner, only to find him murdered in his own home!

Living in a neighborhood full of elderly people is Winnie's choice. She's always felt most comfortable amongst people a few decades or so older than she is. She's come to accept that every now and then someone dies. But murder! This is something else indeed, and it doesn't seem as if the police are going to be conducting a full out investigation for the murder of a man who was in failing health anyway.

Winnie decides to convert the ambulance into a delivery vehicle and deliver Emergency Desserts to people in need of a little something sweet to cheer them up, calm their nerves, soften their anger, or reward an accomplishment. As she races around small town Silver Lake delivering desserts, she keeps her eyes peeled and her ears open for clues as to who killed Burt. Will she expose the killer before he (or she) strikes again?

Eclair and Present Danger has to be one of the most unusual and creatively themed mysteries I've read in a long time. The cast of characters is special, from the cat Lovey with her antics and mood swings, to the elderly Mr. Nelson, who forgets to turn up his hearing aids, to the neighbor, Bridget, with her gossip column, and Winnie's best friend Renee, a single mom with a fixation of finding Winnie a man. As for romance, there are a couple of guys interested in Winnie, but only one who makes her heart beat faster.

I enjoyed reading this book, and getting acquainted with a new small town, and new characters conceived from the brain of one of my favorite authors. I identified with Winnie in her comfort around elderly people, as I too choose to spend a lot of time with my elders every day. Yes, socially!

That said, I think it's going to take a little fine tuning to make this series as awesome as I know it can be. A few tweaks in Winnie's mannerisms, perhaps get her more comfortable in her own skin should do it. The book is funny and the mystery well plotted. There are some twists and surprises, a few red herrings, and the pace is just right. I highly recommend that you get your copy as soon as possible so that you are in on the beginning of a potentially yummy new series. Please pass the Emergency Dessert Squad menu!

Reviewers Notes: Laura Bradford also writes The Amish Mysteries, and as Elizabeth Lynn Casey, The Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries.

Reviewed 2016