Source: publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: ebook
Genres: cozy mystery, mystery
Series: Pancake House #3
Published by Random House Publishing Group on November 7th 2017
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Publisher's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
Lights. Camera. Murder? Wildwood Cove’s star turn is soured by a sneaky killer in this delicious cozy mystery from the USA Today bestselling author of The Crêpes of Wrath.
Bonus content: includes original recipes inspired by the Flip Side Pancake House menu!
With a Hollywood film crew in town to shoot a remake of the horror classic The Perishing, the residents of Wildwood Cove are all abuzz. Even Marley McKinney, owner of The Flip Side Pancake House, can overlook the fact that the lead actress, Alyssa Jayde, happens to be an old flame of her boyfriend. After all, the crew loves Marley’s crêpes—so much so that Christine, the head makeup artist, invites her onset for a behind-the-scenes tour. But when Marley arrives, the special-effects trailer is on fire . . . with Christine inside.
The cops quickly rule Christine’s death a murder, and Alyssa a suspect. Marley’s boyfriend insists that the actress is innocent, but when Marley sticks her nose into the complicated lives of The Perishing’s cast and crew, she discovers more questions than answers. It seems that everyone has a hidden agenda—and a plausible motive. And as the horror spills over from the silver screen, Marley gets a funny feeling that she may be the killer’s next victim.
Sarah Fox’s addictive Pancake House Mysteries can be enjoyed together or à la carte: THE CRÊPES OF WRATH | FOR WHOM THE BREAD ROLLS | OF SPICE AND MEN
One of the things that makes cozy mysteries so cozy is that they are often set in small towns where there are lots of quirky and interesting characters and everyone knows everyone else’s business. One of the dilemmas of cozy mystery series set in small towns is that sooner or later the reader starts to wonder why anyone would continue to live in place where the odds of becoming either a murder victim or a murder suspect are so disproportionately high.
Could there be any remaining residents in Midsomer County who have not been involved in murder at some point? Or Cabot Cove?
In Of Spice and Men, the third book in the Pancake House mystery series, the author has solved the problem by bringing a film crew to the tiny town of Wildwood Cove. This is the kind of thing that really does happen, and lives in the town’s memories for decades after.
(If you are ever in tiny Micanopy, Florida they still have plenty of memorabilia from the local filming of the 1991 film Doc Hollywood on display)
The movie being filmed in Wildwood Cove is the remake of the cult horror classic The Perishing (apropos title, all things considered!), and the little coastal town has plenty of Victorian houses to use as stand-ins for the creep-o-rama. The film shoot is a lot of excitement for Wildwood Cove, but things get a bit too exciting when our amateur sleuth, Marley McKinney, finds the first victim in a burning trailer on set.
Marley tried to rescue the woman, but she was already dead when Marley found her. And even though Marley couldn’t have saved her, she still feels guilty that she didn’t. That’s enough to get Marley started on the case, even though, as usual, the sheriff would rather she resisted her impulse to conduct yet another amateur investigation.
When Marley discovers that the heroine of the movie is her boyfriend’s ex, that said ex is the prime suspect in the murder, that she expects Brett to “take care of things” with his uncle the sheriff, and that, most unnerving of all, Brett seems to be going along with her demands, Marley sees red. And green. Particularly as Brett keeps defending the woman, refusing to admit that she had both opportunity and motive.
After a lot of soul searching, Marley decides that solving the murder is the fastest way to get Allison Jayde out of her life – whether by landing her in jail for good or absolving her so that she doesn’t need Brett’s help. And who can blame her?
But the deeper that Marley digs, the more complicated the case gets. There are too many people who might have had a motive to kill the victim, and even more people who had a motive to pin it on the selfish and shallow Allison Jayde.
As Marley frequently complains, she has way more questions than she has answers. Right up to the moment she finds herself face-to-face with the murderer, and suddenly it all makes sense.
Unfortunately for Marley, it also makes sense for the murderer to make sure that she can’t reveal what she’s figured out to anyone else. Ever.
Escape Rating B: In the end, that I am still following this series boils down to the fact that I like Marley as the main character. Not just that she’s both plucky and nosy, but also the way that she has taken on the changes in her life and made a new life for herself in a new place with new (and interesting) people.
It takes as much courage in real life to immerse yourself in new surroundings with new people and especially take on the ownership of a business as it fictionally does to poke her nose into murder.
I like just how grounded Marley is, and how responsible she is. She genuinely does care about her town, her friends and her business – and occasionally that caring gets her into trouble.
It is interesting that all of the crimes she has poked her nose into, at least so far, have touched on her life directly in one way or another. Her first time out she was investigating the death of the cousin who left her the Flip Side Pancake House (The Crepes of Wrath). In her second “case” she investigated the death of a local misanthrope because Marley herself was the prime suspect (For Whom the Bread Rolls). Now in her third “case” she’s looking into the murder in order to get her boyfriend’s ex out of town as fast as possible.
No one’s circle of acquaintances in real life is quite this murder-prone, but it does make for quirky mysteries.
The case that Marley is stuck in this time has a lot of twists and turns. And this time out the victims, suspects and witnesses are all outsiders, so Marley has a difficult time finding out who wants to do what to whom. There’s plenty of drama (and melodrama) both onscreen and off, and Marley has her hands full sorting out what is real and what is make believe.
But she’s likeable and always fun to watch. Enough so that I’m looking forward to her next adventure.
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