Title: Here Today, Scone Tomorrow: Baker’s Rise Mysteries Book One
Author: R. A. Hutchins
Genre: Cozy Mystery
A delightful new series from successful author R. A. Hutchins mixes humour and suspense with the charm of a quirky English village in this cozy page-turner. When the self-titled Lord of the Manor, Harold Baker, meets an untimely end, the residents of Baker’s Rise believe that he has simply died from choking. It is fair to say that they are certainly not sad to see him go! Former city dweller Flora Miller, new to the quaint English village and in charge of the recently restored Tearoom on the Rise, is the unlucky recipient of the late man’s parrot. Her new feathered companion has no filter and a vibrant personality that cannot be ignored! Witness to Harold’s murder, the bird won’t let the matter lie, and it’s not long before Flora becomes suspicious. A quest to bake the perfect scone is put on hold whilst Flora helps the charming Detective Bramble to investigate Harold’s death. She has set her hopes on writing the next bestseller, not on becoming an amateur sleuth, but life sometimes has surprises in store! Will they find the killer before they strike again, and can Flora find the acceptance and friendship she seeks amongst her new neighbours? Packed with twists and turns, colourful characters and a sprinkle of romance, this is the first book in the series of Baker’s Rise Mysteries. It will certainly leave you hungry for more! (Includes a traditional scone recipe!)
“Thank you dear, do you serve elevenses?” The woman hovered just in the doorway, as if she wasn’t yet sure whether she was going to stay or not.
“I certainly do, with cream scones, or crumpets, teacakes or banana loaf. Or a lovely Victoria sponge if you fancy!”
The older woman’s face lit up, “Ooh, I do like a slice of Victoria sponge,” she looked as if she were about to sit down at the table nearest the counter until a thought suddenly struck her, “you didn’t make it yourself, did you dear?”
Flora sucked in a breath between her teeth, the woman having unwittingly touched a nerve, “No, indeed, only the finest from the local baker.”
“Perfect, I’ll give it a go,” she said rather seriously, as if she was committing herself to a monthly contract and not simply tea and cake. Her rheumy eyes looked Flora up and down, not just at the splattered apron, but also at the tailored suit trousers and crisp blouse. Flora decided inwardly that she should try to dress the part of a local from now on. Her city clothes were at odds with the country lifestyle she was now aspiring to fit in with. Clearly, she did not look like someone who was good at baking. And she desperately wanted to have the aura of an accomplished cake maker.
Flora felt the pressure begin to rise as she stood patiently waiting to take the lady’s order. It was imperative that she make a good impression on potential regular village customers like this one. It was the only way she would build up regular business that wasn’t the occasional tourist, lost in the wilds of the Northumberland National Park.
“I’m Flora, Flora Miller,” she said, to break the uncomfortable silence as the woman took out her spectacles, affixed them to the tip of her nose, and began perusing the menu. Her tut tutting and slight shaking of the head were all noticed by Flora, who was on tenterhooks by the time the lady actually spoke.
“Pleased to meet you, Flora, I’m Betty. Betty Lafferty. Former chairwoman of the local Women’s Institute. I only stepped down at last year’s fete to give someone else a chance at the role. After all, I had held the title for fifteen years. I still won Best Scone at last year’s fayre though, so I haven’t lost my touch,” she laughed lightly, as Flora felt a ball of concrete settle in the pit of her stomach. She had no hope of impressing such an esteemed baker as this. Not with shop-bought goods that weren’t even home-made. It was over before it had a chance to begin, and Flora’s shoulders slumped in defeat.
“Now dear, don’t you be downhearted just because I’m famous in the local area for my baking. Just you do your best,” Betty added. Normally, Flora would have been immediately irritated by the condescending tone, but in this instance she was simply grateful to be given a glimmer of hope. Perhaps if she buttered Betty up, she might get a lesson or two. Perhaps even an invite to join the hallowed institution that was the W.I.
“Do you know who owns the big house now, The Rise?” Betty asked around a mouthful of Victoria sponge. She had invited Flora to join her at the table, there being no other customers, and the two were sharing a huge pot of Earl Grey tea. Betty had already quizzed Flora on her marital status, where she had come from, and whether she planned to join the village fete committee. Flora had responded that she would be honoured to help in any way she could, even though secretly, the thought of joining a group of formidable women, plus the vicar, on a committee to arrange the highlight of the village calendar, filled her with dread.
“Well, ah,” Flora tripped over her reply, eventually just sitting looking non-committal.
“It’s just, the lord of the manor, so to speak, usually judges the cake competitions at the fete,” Betty continued, seemingly unaware of Flora’s discomfort, “who will decide on Best Scone and Spongiest Sponge now, I wonder?” Her wrinkled face scrunched up in deep thought as she eyed Flora from over the huge piece of cake which was raised to her mouth.
“I’m not sure, the vicar perhaps?” Flora tried to be helpful.
“Pah, that idiot wouldn’t know his cranberries from his cherries!” Betty scoffed, “All that matters to him is that stupid roof.”
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
Here Today, Scone Tomorrow is a must-read cozy full of tea and scones, rumours and a splash of romance, with a big slice of murder on the side! It will appeal to those who love mysteries set in small communities as Baker’s Rise is a village in Northumberland, England, complete with its own cast of quirky residents! For those who enjoy animal cozies, there is a feisty feathered sidekick, and of course the Tearoom on the Rise provides the perfect setting for lovers of culinary cozies! All in all, this book is the perfect recipe for a cozy mystery!
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R. A. Hutchins lives in northeast England with her husband, their three children and their dog, Boudicca. She is a keen writer of cozy mysteries, contemporary romance, and historical fiction (under the pen name Anne Hutchins). Rachel's love of mysteries and women sleuths started at an early age with a fascination for the works of Agatha Christie. Her first high school English project was a biography of this author's life! Rachel's favourite hobbies are curling up with a hot drink and a great book, walking at the coast with her family, visiting new places, watching detective shows and researching different periods in history. She also enjoys collecting sea glass from the various local beaches on her doorstep.
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