Review: Banana Muffins & Mayhem by Janel Gradowski

Banana Muffins & Mayhem by Janel Gradowski
Series: Culinary Competition (# 5)
Release Date: June 14, 2016
Publisher: Gemma Halliday Publishing
Pages: 195
Source: book provided by the author for review
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From #1 bestselling cozy mystery author Janel Gradowski comes her next to-die-for recipe for murder…

Culinary competitor Amy Ridley is as excited as anyone in Kellerton, Michigan to have DIY Home Improvement star, Phoebe Plymouth, come to town for the first annual Cabin Fever Cure event. However the TV personality’s sour attitude quickly curdles people’s opinion of her. When she’s found dead, at the business owned by Amy’s husband, Alex, the heat is on to catch the killer before his professional reputation is ruined!

When Amy seeks help in preparing for a vegan baking recipe contest, she also finds assistance from an unlikely team of sleuths who want to help her catch the murderer. But things go from bad to worse when Alex and his business suddenly suffer a series of less-than-random attacks. Are the murder and attacks related? Amy vows to figure it out before her and her husband’s lives are ruined…or ended permanently!

 

Review:  This is the best book in the series to date, in my opinion. I have been binge reading the culinary competition series for the past couple of weeks and it’s been so much fun!

When the star of a DYI home improvement series arrives in Kellerton, everyone is excited, but soon the star tarnishes her reputation by behaving like a deluxe diva, offending many residents. But, when the star’s dead body is found near Alex’s workplace, and an inexperienced detective lands the case, Amy needs to get to the truth before her husband’s business is affected.

Thankfully, her new friend and surrogate mother, Geri, has recruited a team of amateur sleuths to help solve the murder, dubbing them, “Amy’s Angels”.

Meanwhile, Carla struggles with the decision to return to work, and Amy contemplates motherhood, getting some very sage advice from Geri, in the process, while she continues to work on her recipe blog and considers writing her own cookbook.

I am so happy to see Alex’s role expand in this latest installment of the wildly popular ‘Culinary Competition’ series. He and Amy find themselves teaming up to solve the crime, but soon discover someone is trying to kill them.

With each chapter in the series, the characters have grown, the writing has firmed up, and the mysteries are harder to solve. Occasionally, the whys and wherefores are a little weak, but my brain got a good workout with this one because I never guessed whodunit and was actually stunned by the reveal.

Of course, cozy mysteries are reliant upon character driven plots and the charm is not only in the mystery, but in touching base with all the recurring characters. The author has done a fabulous job of finding that balance, not to mention keeping the series fresh and fast paced.

Cozy mysteries are a lot of fun and are crazy popular right now, but with so many on the market, picking through them in order to find a well written series is like finding a needle in a haystack. So, if you are looking for a solid, culinary based cozy mystery series, look no further. This series is one of the best in the digital world and is well worth the time and money, and of course all the books in the series have delectable recipes included.

 

Julie