Nancy J Parra
Publisher: Berkley Crime
With her mother’s death, Toni Ryder returns home to OilTop, Kansas bringing her gluten-free bakery business with her. But Toni has never felt at home in her hometown and cooking wheat-free in the middle of wheat country isn’t making her any less a fish out of water. When Toni becomes a suspect in OilTop’s first homicide investigation in twenty years, she must count on her crazy family and follow the clues to solve the mystery and clear her name
I picked this up while in Canada purely because one of my cousins over there is Gluten-intolerant and been bemoaning the lack of cakes she can eat now. JWhat I discovered was a fun, sweet mystery with a good bite to it and some great characters. Toni opens a Gluten Free bakery right in the middle of Wheat country, but despite some minor protest at her grand opening, she is surprised when her main opponent is found dead just outside her bakery. With the police focusing on her as the only suspect, she and her Grandmother decide they need to solve the case themselves…
There are some interesting characters – both secondary and minor which helps keep interest in the story. Toni’s grandmother, Ruth is an eccentric old lady, riding a scooter and determined to grow old gracefully. She is the driving force behind Toni’s investigation. But she also adds plenty of colour and joy to the scene every time she shows up. I also loved the description of the various gluten-free goodies Toni bakes which made me feel hungry during most of the book! Toni’s best friend is an intriguing character as she is struggling with her business, a new boyfriend and a child who is autistic and I liked their friendship immensely.
The investigation itself is fairly simple with just a couple of conversations to other locals rather than any big evidence or sleuthing skills. However, consider the police are not particularly good at their job and don’t even bothering to find out who was also on Main Street the morning of the murder, this seems to do the job nicely. It’s not a complicated mystery but the story is well told with enough amusement from the characters to make an entertaining read!
Recommended for fans of Sofie Kelly and Connie Archer. 7 out of 10