Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Cakes Of Wrath - Jacklyn Brady

The Cakes Of Wrath
A Piece Of Cake Mystery
Jacklyn Brady
Berkley Prime Crime
Part of running a business is networking with the businesses around yours.  So says Miss Frankie, who is Rita Lucero’s former mother-in-law and silent partner at Zydeco Cakes.  Rita isn’t really excited about joining the Magnolia Square Business Alliance, but Miss Frankie won’t be denied.  And that’s how Rita ended up spending hours in a meeting after a full day at the bakery.  Not that the entire meeting was a bore.  The first order of business concerns Destiny.  Moose and Destiny own the Chopper Shop.  Destiny says she has a deep desire to be involved in the alliance but has so far missed every meeting.  Given the stories she’s heard about Destiny (drugs, rehab, and romantic indiscretions) missing meetings seems like small potatoes.  Destiny finally arrives and demands to be put on the ballot for president, causing upset, arguing, motioning and voting.  Once the meeting is finally over, Rita and Moose are chatting on the street when a van speeds toward them, clearly intending to hit them.  The van misses Rita, but Moose doesn’t.  In his zeal to protect Rita, he tackles her pretty hard, sending her to the ER.
Returning to work the next day, bruised and sore but determined to carry on, Rita stashes her prescribed pain medication in her private office.  Later that afternoon, somewhat to her surprise, Destiny arrives, as promised, to help organize a weekend cleanup effort.  Showing up at all is a positive.  Unfortunately, Destiny is clearly high on something and Rita tells her to go home.  Destiny says she’ll soon be making a lot of people sorry; the implication being that Rita just made that list.  After she leaves, Rita discovers that her pills are missing from her office.  It doesn’t take Poirot to solve this crime.  The following morning, Rita walks to the Chopper Shop, hoping to have a serious talk.  What she finds instead is Destiny, dead, clutching Rita’s prescription bottle in one cold hand.  The resulting investigation puts Rita squarely in the crosshairs of a narcotics detective.

It would have been easy for the author to make Destiny a cartoon floozy who does drugs, but she wisely avoids that.  Instead, as the story unfolds and the reader finds out more about Destiny, it becomes easier to sympathize with her, even while disagreeing with her life decisions.  And her husband, Moose, a large man with many tattoos who owns the Chopper Shop, becomes a realistic person instead of a stock character.  This installment, the fourth in the series (A SHEETCAKE NAMED DESIRE, CAKE ON A HOT TIN ROOF, and ARSENIC AND OLD CAKE) introduces many of the surrounding business owners, providing a much better picture of the neighborhood.  This opens up many more avenues for interactions and mystery plots.
If you haven’t read previous books, this is a fine place to start.  There are many returning characters, and each is introduced succinctly, with just enough background for context.  This is one of the strongest stories of the series thus far. A very suspicious detective, sure that Rita is the culprit, provides a very realistic reason for Rita to continue her investigation despite several injuries that could have put her out of commission.  I’ll admit, I had the real baddie pegged before Rita, but I wasn’t concussed at least once!  This is a great cozy series.  And, if you’re so inclined, there are several great recipes provided, too.

Rating: 7 ½
September 2013
ISBN# 978-0-425-25826-2 (paperback)


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