Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Book Review - Arsenic and Old Cake


Arsenic and Old Cake: A Piece of Cake Mystery

By: Jacklyn Brady
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: November 2012
ISBN: 978-0425251720
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: January 2013

Zydeco Cakes’ “extreme cakes” business was starting to flop big time. Frosting can only cover up so much and no amount of it could cover up the fact that even one recent cancellation hurt. Rita Lucerno really couldn’t afford to keep everyone on the payroll and hiding the problem from her employees and Miss Frankie Renie, her partner, could prove to be disastrous. Edie was keeping the books and her mood was getting as ugly as the bottom line. Gabriel Broussard unexpectedly showed up at Zydeco with Old Dog Leg Magee, an old blind trumpet player. Magee Monroe played at the Dizzy Duke now and then, a place where Gabriel bartended and many of the staff members went to unwind.

Rita had been seeing Gabriel, but also Detective Liam Sullivan, “a hunky homicide detective with the NOPD.” Ultimately what Old Dog Leg and Gabriel would propose would be a short stay at the Love Nest Bed and Breakfast in the “wedded bliss” room. What Liam would have to say about her being anywhere near a “heart-shaped bed” with an overly charming Cajun who had a habit of calling her ma chérie was well, touchy at best. It seemed that Dog’s long lost brother, Monroe, had finally surfaced after forty years. Well, least ways he said so in a letter.

It was going to be easy, or so they thought. “All we have to do,” claimed Gabriel, is to find the man who wrote that letter to Old Dog leg and look for the birthmark.” Rita soon found that the Love Nest was more like a viper’s nest than anything else. Hyacinth and Primrose, owners of the inn, along with the other residents appeared to be hiding something. Monroe’s presence only seemed to rock everyone’s composure. “It’s bad juju to leave your man alone on your honeymoon,” Cleveland told Rita. Perhaps so, but when screams filled the air she was inclined to believe him. “I think he’s dead,” Gabriel claimed after checking for a heartbeat. Something more insidious than bad feelings was churning in the bed-and-breakfast, but what was it?

Things are brewing big time in New Orleans when Rita Lucerno stirs things up. Rita’s stint as Mrs. Broussard is short-lived when a body is found sprawled in the yard of the bed-and-breakfast. Of course she has a lot of explaining to do when Detective Liam Sullivan shows up. I enjoyed the little twists and turns of the plot, especially Monroe Magee’s mysterious past and even more mysterious connection to the other residents at the Love Nest. Jacklyn Brady can concoct a plot as fine as gourmet dessert and whip it up with panache. If you enjoy a complicated plot laced with murder and intrigue, you’ll love this one!

Quill says: If you love a good old-fashioned cozy mystery set in New Orleans that will jazz up your book shelf, Arsenic and Old Cake is a perfect choice!