I was totally, completely unfair to this book, and I can’t even really say that I’m sorry. It wasn’t great to start with, but then I put it down halfway through because the new Lois McMaster Bujold came in the mail, and duh. So reading half a mediocre book, then reading your favorite author, and then finishing the mediocre book makes the mediocre book seem even worse.
It’s a “cozy” “mystery” (double air-quotes because it’s not all that mysterious) about a baker who runs over a man in a storm, causing his death, maybe. An autopsy reveals he was beaten up right before she hit him, and was dying anyway. But nobody knows who the guy is. She’s wracked with guilt and uses her cookie-making mystery-solving skills to identify the dead guy. There are many (many) weird asides to talk about her cat and her new treadmill, and the most milquetoast love triangle I have ever encountered. It’s fine. It’s inoffensive, except for the aggressively stupid dialogue. However! There are recipes posted all throughout the book, and that is a pretty strong redeeming factor. Here, I’ll let you decide if it’s worth it:
A conversation between sisters:
“Don’t worry about me. I can always call out for pizza. Lonnie told me Bertanelli’s delivers in the summer.”
“That’s true. They hire high school kids with their own cars and pay them mileage. It’s good for the kids and Bert told me that it’s great for their business.”
…what? Who talks like that? It sounds like some local homemade furniture store commercial. And then there’s this weird repetitive thing all the characters do:
Mother: “I’ve decided on the entrée.”
Daughter/baker/mystery solver: “Really? What did you decide on for an entrée, Mother?”
I don’t know. It all just felt like it was written by a very earnest high school student.
But then! You also get this:
Preheat oven to 375.
1 cup melted butter (2 sticks) 2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla .5 tsp salt
1.5 tsp baking soda 1 tsp baking powder
1 cup Nutella 2 beaten eggs
3 cups flour
Melt butter. Add brown sugar and vanilla. Stir until blended, then add the baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Add Nutella and mix, then the eggs and stir. Add flour and mix until all ingredients are thoroughly blended.
Form the dough into walnut-sized balls and arrange them on a greased cookie sheet. Push the dough balls down just a tiny bit so they won’t roll off the sheet when you put them in the oven.
Bake at 375 for 8 to 10 minutes.
Yield: 5 to 6 dozen cookies