Sunday, October 09, 2011

Death by the Dozen by Jenn McKinlay

Who wouldn't like a mystery that features cupcakes? I'll admit there are a number of reasons I enjoy Jenn McKinlay's Cupcake Bakery mysteries. They're set in Scottsdale, Arizona, and I recognize a number of the sites in the books. It's hard to resist all those recipes for cupcakes. It’s fun to watch the three protagonists challenge each other to movie quotes. I know and like Jenn, a fellow librarian.  But, the best reason to read her third book in this series, Death by the Dozen? It’s the best yet, with great characters, and a terrific, tightly written plot.

Melanie Cooper and Angie DeLaura, owners of Fairy Tale Cupcake Bakery, just make it in time to enter the bakery challenge at the Scottsdale Food Festival, no thanks to their arch-rival Olivia Puckett, who does everything she can to block their entry. Knowing they’ll be tied up for a while, they ask for an intern from the local tech high school. When Oz shows up, he’s not quite what they expect. He’s a hulking teenager in black, with piercings and a chain. But, he does like to bake.

Even the judges aren’t what Mel and Angie expect. Two were men who hated each other, teachers at the culinary institute where Mel went to school. A third is a former fellow student who also disliked one of the judges, Vic Mazzotta, now a Food Channel chef, and Mel’s mentor. Mel may know most of the judges, but it’s still a formidable competition, a challenge to bake with mystery ingredients.

Angie is determined to beat Olivia Puckett in the competition. But, Mel’s will to win is dampened when Vic ends up dead. Now, she just wants to know who hated him enough to end his career for good.

McKinlay’s Death by the Dozen has a little of everything. There’s so much humor in the friends’ competition with Olivia, from the opening scene to the end. There’s always humor when it comes to Angie’s seven brothers. The baking challenge is thrilling to anyone who frequently wants food challenges on television. There’s a little romance, along with the suspense of the mystery and the food challenge.

Now, Jenn McKinlay has added to her interesting cast of characters. Oz and the new kitten in Mel’s life, Captain Jack, are welcome additions to a cast that was already fun and a little off-beat. McKinlay truly has written her strongest entry in this series. It’s almost as hard to resist the appeal of Death by the Dozen as it is to resist cupcakes.

Jenn McKinlay's website is

Death by the Dozen by Jenn McKinlay. Berkley Prime Crime. 
©2011. ISBN 9780425244050 (paperback), 294p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.


bermudaonion said...

That sounds like a cute book, and now I'm hungry for cupcakes!

Anonymous said...

I love this series! Love the location, love the characters, love the cupcake descriptions! Can't wait to read this new one. It's on my Kindle and I hope to get to it soon. Good to hear it's a strong entry and I'm excited about the new characters.

Lesa said...

Jenn McKinlay's Cupcake Bakery series will do that to you, Kathy, make you hungry for cupcakes. It's a good one!

Lesa said...


I'm with you on this one. I love the baking challenge. Just as on TV, they have to work with mystery ingredients. That really makes it fun.

Jenn McKinlay said...

Thanks so much for the lovely review, Lesa! There is so much I loved about this book, I'm so glad you did, too!

Lesa said...

I did, Jenn. It was hard not to just write about everything since the book was so good. I love the relationships between your characters. I like Oz, and I'm glad to see he'll be back in the next book. Captain Jack is great. My favorite part, though? The mystery ingredients competition. I watch all those shows on the Food Network, and enjoy those odd ingredients. You nailed it!

Liz V. said...

I've been meaning to try one of this series. Thanks for the reminder. Humor is good.

Beth Hoffman said...

Could the cover be any cuter!!! The cat and the clock made me laugh.

Lesa said...

It is good, Liz. The rivalry with the other baker is always fun, and Jenn does a good job opening and closing her books with it.And, the opening and closing are parallels. Very nice.

Lesa said...

That cat is just as cute in the book, Beth. That's a jukebox behind him. It's heavy on Elvis. And, why not? Who is any better than Elvis?