Review: Pies & Peril by Janel Gradowski

Pies & Peril by Janel Gradowski
Series: Culinary Competition (# 1)
Release Date: July 4, 2014
Publisher: Gemma Halliday Publishing
Pages: 196
Source: book provided by the author for review



When Amy Ridley decided to compete in the Kellerton Summer Festival Pie Contest, the last thing she expected was to find the reigning pie queen, Mandy Jo, dead—a raspberry pie smashed on her face! Mandy Jo made fantastic pies, but she accumulated more enemies than baking trophies. But when Amy receives a note threatening her own life, she decides to do some investigating herself.

It seems that half the town has a reason to kill the mean pie queen, and Amy finds herself sifting through a list of suspects that’s longer than her list of recipes. Not to mention playing cupid for her love-shy best friend, fending off a baker intent on finding out her prize-winning culinary secrets, and ducking the deadly attentions of Mandy Jo’s killer. If Amy doesn’t find out who wanted the pie queen dead soon, her own goose may be cooked!


Review: Pies & Peril is a very light, easy to read, cozy mystery, centered around Amy Ridley, a happily married, stay at home wife who enjoys cooking and entering her prized recipes into culinary contests.

When Amy’s arch enemy is murdered, is appears the killer is just getting wound up, and has now targeted Amy, which prompts her to get involved in the investigation along with her good friend, Carla. Naturally, Amy gets herself into a few difficult positions along the way, and is nearly killed more than once, before finally solving this puzzling whodunit.

This story is cute, however, the author did commit a few writing faux pas here and there. But, keep in mind, this is a debut novel, and it’s not a deal breaker by any means.

The plot was organized, with proper pacing, and the mystery was solid enough, although for a seasoned mystery reader, it might be a little transparent.   The characters were developed nicely, especially for a ‘first in a series’ novel.

While this one isn’t great, it’s not bad either, and I think the series has a lot of potential and should garner a nice following in time.