Title: Shortbread and Dead
Author: Jo A. Hiestand
Genre: Cozy Crime, Cozy Mystery
It’s two weeks before Christmas. In the small Missouri town of Beaudin Trace, the holiday spirit is revving up: shops are adorned in seasonal decorations and the annual Winter Scavenger Hunt is in full swing. This year, the grand prize for the hunt winner is provided by The Cookie Cutter, a bakery owned by 40-year-old widow Kate Dunbar. It’s her first time to supply the prize since moving to the town several years ago. And she’s thrilled to give Pam, the winner, something Pam loves: a huge basket filled with muffins, scones, jams and hot chocolate mix…and shortbread.
But the thrill doesn’t last long, for an hour later Pam’s found dead outside the bakery—conveniently close to Kate and her employees.
Despite pleas and stern warnings from her friend, Deputy Sheriff Josh Cline, Kate decides to investigate, needing to discover who murdered such a beloved resident, and taking the heat off her and her staff before her business crumbles.
Complicating her inquiry is the string of cookie cutter-style art gallery burglaries in surrounding towns. Are they linked to Pam’s murder? Perhaps Harold—the affable retiree who writes outlandish songs such as “Penguins, Arise!”—has something to do with both incidents: it wouldn’t be the first time beautiful icing has disguised a burnt cookie.
As Kate hunts for the killer, she uncovers secrets that reveal the killer’s identity. The trouble is, that revelation may turn her into victim #2.
Baker Kate is known for her shortbread and other tasty treats but are they worth killing over? Kate Dunbar is the owner of The Cookie Cutter in the small town of Beaudin Trace. The bakery is humming with customers as it's two weeks before Christmas. After a town-wide contest, the winner, Pam, comes to collect the prize of a beautiful basket supplied by Kate's bakery. An hour or so later, Kate finds Pam's body right outside her bakery. Who would do such a thing? The authorities have no idea of what it could be, but Kate decides to do some investigating on her own. What she discovers puts her in the crosshairs of a killer, but she needs to do something as her business is suffering. Can Kate bring the murderer to justice or is she the next victim?
Shortbread and Dead is a wonderful cozy crime I couldn't put down. It's an edgier cozy mystery set in a quaint small town filled with an eclectic cast of characters. I connected with Kate right away. She's such a savvy woman who has a nose for mystery. While she was hunting down clues, I found myself immersed in small-town life. I enjoyed it so much. From the Christmas tunes to the mouth-watering recipes, Shortbread and Dead will have you under its spell. The plot moves at a nice easy pace with plenty of clues to pick up along the way. Jo A. Hiestand is a brilliant mystery writer, and I thoroughly enjoyed her foray into the cozy mystery genre. As I whipped through the pages, I tried to solve the mystery before Kate did. When the killer was revealed, my jaw dropped. I was fooled completely. Well done, Jo. If you love cozy crime and/or cozy mystery with an edge, you'll want to read Shortbread and Dead. If you're looking for a cozy holiday-themed mystery, pick up Shortbread and Dead. Trust me, you'll be craving shortbread while reading. I can't wait to read the next book in the series. Highly recommend!
My Rating: 5+ stars
Buy it Now:
Trade Paper – https://amzn.to/3hEepkk
Jo A. Hiestand grew up on regular doses of music, books, and Girl Scout camping. She gravitated toward writing in her post-high school years and finally did something sensible about it, graduating from Webster University with a BA degree in English and departmental honors. She writes a British mystery series—of which two books have garnered the prestigious N.N. Light’s Book Heaven ‘Best Mystery Novel’ two years straight. She also writes two Missouri-based mystery series that are grounded in places associated with her camping haunts. The camping is a thing of the past, for the most part, but the music stayed with her in the form of playing guitar and harpsichord and singing in a folk group. Jo carves jack o’ lanterns badly; sings loudly; and loves barbecue sauce and ice cream (separately, not together), kilts (especially if men wear them), clouds and stormy skies, and G.F. Handel. You can usually find her pulling mystery plots out of scenery—whether photographs or the real thing.
Social Media Links:
Book Gems: https://bookgems.com/profile/mclgirl1/
Reviewed by: Mrs. N