Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Date of publication: June 20th, 2023
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Mystery, Contemporary
Series: Cookie Shop Mystery
How the Murder Crumbles—Book 1
Debra Sennefelder whips up cookies and crime in a delicious new cozy series, perfect for fans of Joanne Fluke and Peg Cochran.
Wingate, Connecticut, is famed as one of the top ten shopping destinations in the state, and home to Mallory Monroe’s beloved Cookie Shop—a place where patrons are greeted with the heavenly aroma of freshly baked cookies that are as beautifully decorated as they are insanely delicious.
But things aren’t going so smoothly for Mallory. Her two employees are a disaster in the kitchen, she catches her boyfriend with another woman, and she’s seen having a fierce argument with food blogger Beatrice Wright, who accuses Mallory of stealing her cookie recipe. Then Beatrice turns up dead in her kitchen, flour outlining her body and a bloodied marble rolling pin nearby. Mallory immediately becomes suspect number one, her sales plummet, and she desperately tries to clear her name—but that’s not the only murder the killer is baking up.
Debra Sennefelder has cooked up a perfect recipe—endearing characters, a picture-perfect evocation of small-town life, and a quaint sweets shop. And just when things get a little too comfy, there’s always a murder or two for good measure.
“Why was the cookie so angry with the baker?” Kip Winslow asked the group of five women as they tied their aprons. He waited a beat.How the Murder Crumbles by Debra Sennefelder
Mallory is working at her dream job, running the bakery left to her by her late aunt. But things are not going smoothly. Her two employees are bickering with each other, she catches her boyfriend with another woman, and a food blogger, Beatrice, has publically accused Mallory’s deceased aunt of stealing a cookie recipe from her. If things can’t get any worse, they do. On a spur-of-the-moment decision, Mallory visits Beatrice to try and smooth things over. When she gets there, Beatrice is dead, and Mallory is the main suspect (due to the argument earlier that day). With the police breathing down her neck and her reputation in tatters, Mallory decides to solve the mystery. But that is easier said than done because everyone in town had issues with Beatrice. Can Mallory catch the killer? Or is she next on that person’s list?
I had been on a cozy mystery download frenzy when I decided to download this book. I had decided that I needed to read more cozy mysteries, and I would follow that promise to myself. Coincidentally, Crooked Lane Books had a bunch that was read now. How the Murder Crumbles is part of that haul.
While I liked How the Murder Crumbles, I wasn’t a big fan of it. The characters didn’t cut it for me. Everything else (including the mystery) was well written. But will I read the other books in the series (when they are published), yes. I have become attached to the secondary characters and hope Mallory’s business catches a break.
The main storyline in How the Murder Crumbles centers around Mallory, Beatrice’s death, and Mallory’s investigation. I felt that Mallory was a little unstable from the beginning of the book. I don’t know if the author meant to write her this way, but it came across like that to me. And her mental state began to crumble once she found Beatrice dead, and the police started investigating her. The author did a great job of showing her heading toward a breakdown while hyper-focusing on Beatrice’s murder. She was able to pull up some great leads to give to the police during that time.
The characters in How the Murder Crumbles were well-written and multi-faceted. I liked that even the victim had multiple sides to her. Those dimensions of the characters fleshed out the storyline and made the characters feel lifelike.
I did feel bad for Mallory. She was trying her best to ensure her aunt’s business succeeds. But she had her work cut out for her. Then Beatrice blows into the story and publically accuses her of stealing one of her recipes, and Mallory loses it. I don’t blame her; I would have done the same thing. But Mallory’s stinky day turns even more so when she finds her boyfriend cheating on her and then she finds Beatrice dead. The glimpse of a happy but stressed out Mallory turns into a stressed out, anxious, heading towards a breakdown Mallory who is convinced she’s going to jail for murder. Again, I would have felt the same way. But I wouldn’t have done what Mallory did and actively hunted down leads. Maybe it was the stress or the mysteries she read, but she would clear her name. Adding to her anxiety, her cousin acted weird, her ex convinced his boss to withdraw a large order, and the other woman wanted to be her best friend. I have no clue how Mallory didn’t snap.
I loved the mystery angle of How the Murder Crumbles. This was a twisty mystery with so many red herrings that I was utterly bamboozled by who the murderer was and why that person killed Beatrice when it was revealed. The author had Mallory chasing dead-end leads or chasing leads that led to her becoming more prominently featured in the community (she joined a business committee). Some were boring, and others were interesting. But all painted a very unflattering of the victim and other town residents. I was also a little peeved at the police because in no way did they even tell Mallory she wasn’t a suspect until almost the end of the book. All that stress and anxiety could have been avoided if they were more open. But, then again, would they have gotten the results? Yes, but not with the flair that Mallory brought.
A very slight romance angle was kept almost one-sided until the end of the book. I understood why (conflict of interest), and I can’t wait to see where this romance will go!!
The end of How the Murder Crumbles was interesting. I did not see how the murderer was and why that person killed Beatrice. It took me entirely by surprise.
I recommend How the Murder Crumbles to anyone over 16. There are no sexual situations, mild to moderate violence, and mild language.
Many thanks to Crooked Lane Books, NetGalley, and Debra Sennefelder for allowing me to read and review How the Murder Crumbles. All opinions stated in this review are mine.
If you enjoyed reading this review of How the Murder Crumbles, you will enjoy reading these books:
Other books by Debra Sennefelder: