Doughnuts and Deadly Schemes
(Culinary Competition Mysteries Volume 3)
By Janel Gradowski
Publisher: Gemma Halliday Publishing
Published: May 29, 2015
From bestselling mystery author Janel Gradowski comes a deliciously deadly mystery... Amy Ridley’s best friend, Carla, is getting married, and Amy is delighted to be recruited as the head wedding planner—even if Carla's demands are less than conventional. Case in point: Carla insists on a tower of doughnuts in place of a wedding cake. But navigating the world of nuptials becomes the least of Amy's problems when the owner of a menswear shop is found dead, and Carla's fiancée is assigned to the case. With the honeymoon in jeopardy, Amy and Carla vow to help track down the killer...but they soon discover there are even more sinister happenings affecting the businesses in downtown Kellerton, Michigan. If Amy doesn't figure out who is behind the deadly schemes, the nearly newlywed detective may just be solving another murder—hers!
Culinary Competition Mysteries:
Pies & Peril (book #1)
Chicken Soup & Homicide (book #2)
Christmas Canapés & Sabotage (short story)
Doughnuts & Deadly Schemes (book #3)
Praise for the Culinary Competition Mysteries:
"PIES & PERIL is the perfect cozy to curl up with in your favorite chair or at the beach while enjoying some sun. It’s teeming with a lot of charm and great characters along with many tidbits of delectable goodies perfect for any foodie. I was really looking forward to reading (Janel Gradowski's) first full length novel and it didn’t disappoint! PIES & PERIL is sure to please any reader who loves their cozy mysteries!" ~ Peeking Between the Pages
"PIES & PERIL is a beautiful debut and I know I will be eagerly awaiting the second book in the series. (Amy Ridley) had me laughing and smiling, and the warm cozy feeling of reading a good mystery never left me." ~ Cozy Reader
"PIES & PERIL is a fun read with, murder, arson, threats and romance in the plot! This is a very enjoyable story with a very satisfactory closure. There is also an added bonus of recipes at the end of the book. Amy's many trial recipes made me hungry and inspired me to bake some goodies! Enjoy!" ~ Indy Girl
“These are so good,” Carla said as she broke off a chunk of the cinnamon maple doughnut. She popped the pastry in her mouth and washed it down with a sip of coffee. “I want a mountain of doughnuts instead of a fancy wedding cake.”
Carla had said the W word—wedding. Amy sighed as she turned back to her work. She plunged her latex-gloved hand into the bowl of blueberry glaze to retrieve the warm doughnut she had dropped during the moment of shock. The cake rings were supposed to only be dipped half way into the lavender-colored glaze, not released to sink to the bottom of the bowl.
Her fingers closed around the wayward doughnut as she reached with her other hand to free a square of waxed paper from the dispenser box at the back of the counter. She turned to look at her best friend as she let the excess glaze drip back into the bowl. “You’re thinking about wedding cakes…or at least a version of one. Does that mean you’ve set a date?”
Detective Bruce Shepler had asked Carla to marry him at the beginning of the year. It was a huge milestone for her formerly commitment-phobic friend, who had asked Amy to help plan the wedding right after the glittering engagement ring landed on her finger. Great. Wonderful. She would love to help. But since then the couple had refused to actually plan the wedding, saying they were too busy or hadn’t figured out what they wanted. Until now.
The quip about doughnuts instead of cake was the first time Carla had mentioned the big day on her own without being prompted by Amy.
Carla grinned. “June fifteenth.”
Amy plopped the overly glazed blueberry doughnut onto the square of waxed paper and set the extra-gooey baked good on the metal-topped table in front of Carla. They were in the smaller, original kitchen of Riverbend Café that housed the doughnut makers and a pastry decorating area. Carla had stopped in for breakfast, like she often did after she finished a night shift at the hospital. She ate and chatted while Amy worked through her morning baking tasks.
“So we have a year to plan? That should be enough time to come up with a fabulous wedding,” Amy said as she resumed her icing duties. She needed to catch up. Sophie, the café’s owner, had been quietly churning out doughnuts while Amy was distracted by the big wedding announcement. She deposited two, perfectly glazed doughnuts onto a cooling rack and turned to look at Carla as she grabbed two more naked doughnuts. Her friend was pretending to be completely engrossed in studying the newly delivered sweet treat. Amy cleared her throat.
“Not a year.” Carla looked up and met her gaze. “About three weeks from now.”
This time both of the unusually slippery doughnuts escaped from Amy’s grasp. They ricocheted off the edge of the stainless steel worktable then rolled across the white tile floor before ending their journey in front of the convection oven. Her mind would likely follow suit with all of her mental marbles rolling away, possibly never to be found again.
Amy is thrilled to be planning Carla and Bruce’s wedding. But when Carla finally decides on a date and it’s only 3 weeks away she nearly flips. Carla wants something simple and informal… and quirky, like a doughnut tower instead of a wedding cake. After all, Bruce is a police detective.
In fact, Bruce ends up being the lead detective in the murder investigation of one of the owners of the men’s formal wear shop where he was ordering his wedding suit. If the case isn’t solved before the nuptials, Bruce won’t be able to concentrate on his honeymoon. So Amy and Carla vow to help track down the killer.
This cozy mystery involved much more than just one murder as Amy and Carla discover. The twists and turns come fast and furious. It’s as though the killer is toying with his subjects.
Getting all the details sorted out for Carla and Bruce’s wedding is no mean feat either and there are a number of twists and turns that take place for that to happen. The author does an excellent job of bringing these two storylines (the wedding and the murder) together in an interesting and sometimes humorous way.
There are a few big surprises in the story that I won’t share, but I will tell you that there are a few recipes in the back of the book included for you to try out as in all of the Culinary Competition Series books.
I thoroughly enjoyed this cozy mystery. It was fast-paced and fun to read. I gave it 5 stars out of 5.
Thank you to the author who provided a copy of the book in exchange for a fair and honest review. A positive opinion was not required. All thoughts are my own.
About the Author:
Janel Gradowski lives in a land that looks like a cold weather fashion accessory, the mitten-shaped state of Michigan. She is a wife and mom to two kids and one Golden Retriever. Her journey to becoming an author is littered with odd jobs like renting apartments to college students and programming commercials for an AM radio station. Somewhere along the way she also became a beadwork designer and teacher. She enjoys cooking recipes found in her formidable cookbook and culinary fiction collection. Searching for unique treasures at art fairs, flea markets and thrift stores is also a favorite pastime. Coffee is an essential part of her life. She writes the Culinary Competition Mystery Series, along with The Bartonville Series (women’s fiction) and the 6:1 Series (flash fiction). She has also had many short stories published in both online and print publications.