Today, I’ll be discussing Meet Your Baker, the first book in the series Bakeshop Mystery Series by Ellie Alexander is the next book that I have read to continue my posts about the most popular and recommended mystery series.
Juliet Montague Capshaw (who goes by “Jules”) is returning to her hometown of Ashland, Oregon, a quaint town most known for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which brings in plenty of academics and acting professionals alike as well as a slew of tourists. Coming off of a rough breakup from her husband of ten years, Jules wants to spend a bit of time recovering and deciding on a new direction for her life, as continuing her profession as a dessert baker on cruise ships feels less attractive without her partner of ten years.
While a lot has stayed the same in the years Jules has been gone from Ashland, many things have also changed. Though there is still a place for her in her family’s bake shop, Torte, and she still knows a significant number of the locals who grew up in town, she is less familiar with many of the newer faces who have arrived in the last decade, including newcomer Nancy Hudson. Nancy is the newest board member of the festival, as well as a very significant financial backer, plus is dating a local who has been working for years to buy up as much of the local businesses as possible, including Torte.
No one much likes Nancy… which, needless to say, makes it much harder to pin down just one suspect when she turns up dead in Torte, having been bludgeoned, apparently by one of Jules own jam jars. Jules feels that it’s in both her own and her family’s best interest to solve the case as quickly as possible – though it’s a nice plus that this gives her time to spend with her former highschool boyfriend, now a deputy also investigating the crime.
Ashland is a relatively grounded setting, with relatively few over-the-top or “wacky residents. The characters are still interesting, but few are as exaggerated as the genre often uses for supporting cast.
Another aspect of the book that I really appreciated was that the murder was relatively “front-and-center”, occurring in the first few chapters of the novel. A lot of modern Cozies have a tendency to sort of slowly move toward the crime, sometimes taking up to half the novel on preliminaries.
All told, I can recommend Meet Your Baker to any Cozy fan who likes relatively grounded settings, those who are interested in a murder starting up relatively quickly in the book, or anyone who has a love of detailed descriptions of scrumptious-sounding baked goods.
As a side note, Ellie Alexander has also written under the name Kate Dyer-Seeley.
If you are interested in reading some of the other entries about highly recommended Cozy Mystery series, you can find them at the Most Recommended Cozy Mystery Series page on the site.
PS: For anyone who is a bit of a chef themselves, it’s worth noting that the book does include a number of delicious-sounding recipes at the end!