A couple of years ago I read the first two books in “A Bread Shop Mystery” series, I realized that several more had been published. I took time the last few weeks to pick up the next three to read between my thrillers and non-fiction books. The series is penned by Winnie Archer, a pen name for Melissa Bourbon. Each book features some type of bread and how it is made and a recipe is included at the end. If you enjoy cozy mysteries with an eclectic and sometimes eccentric characters, then you will enjoy these books and your visits to the bakery, Yeast of Eden.
The Walking Bread (A Bread Shop Mystery #3) by Winnie Archer
Published October 1st 2018 by Kensington Books
4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Walking Bread is the third installment of A Bread Shop Mystery Series. I do recommend that you read the first book in this series if you haven’t already. It sets the series up and gives a good base for the rest of the books. The protagonist is Ivy Culpepper, a thirty-something year old woman who has returned home to Santa Sofia after the death of her mother. She is there to support her father and brother Billy. She is a freelance photographer and began working at Yeast of Eden, a bakery where she is working as an apprentice breadbaker. In this Yeast of Eden is catering the local arts and cars festival. Once again, Ivy’s brother has entered with the hope to finally beat Max Litman, the man who wins every year. This year is different, as Max never gets to compete. He is found dead in his own art car. Of course, Billy is the main suspect due to the competition and finding an item of his in the car. Ivy hopes to find the real murderer before her brother takes the rap.
I enjoy this series and the many different characters. Ivy is best friends with police detective, Emmaline, and she is also Billy’s girlfriend, so is pulled off the case. This might cause problems for Ivy’s sleuthing, but she is a smart cookie and has lots of help. I love the character of Penelope (Penny) Brandford. She is a retired high school teacher and is full of surprises. She is Watson to Ivy’s Holmes. She also gets help from her boyfriend Miquel and her adopted aunts from Yeast of Eden to find clues and investigate. It turns out there are a lot of people that had issues with Max, so there are a lot of suspects. I did not figure out the culprit until just before the reveal, but looking back, there were plenty of clues and hints along the way. I continue to enjoy the friendship of the ladies at Yeast of Eden and the close bond that Ivy and Olaya have developed. I definitely recommend this book and series to cozy mystery lovers.
Flour in the Attic (A Bread Shop Mystery #4) by Winnie Archer
Published August 27th 2019 by Kensington Publishing Corporation
4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I am continuing to enjoy Ivy’s adventures with Olaya, Mrs. Brandford and Miguel as they set out to solve another crime in Santa Sofia. When Marisol Ruiz, an employee at Miguel’s family restaurant, washes up on the beach, everyone figures it is suspicious. First Marisol was an amazing swimmer and secondly, she was wearing a bathing suit of the wrong colour (she was superstitious). Olaya and East of Eden is asked to cater her funeral and they talk about Marisol and decide to try and help figure out what actually happened. Once it is determined that she did not drown, but was strangled, Ivy and her team of amateur sleuths begin their own brand of investigating.
One of the strengths of this series is its characters. Ivy, Miguel, Penelope Brandford, Olaya and other regular characters are all well drawn and have great personalities and strengths. They are a very eclectic group, which I really enjoy. The second thing is the interesting motives. I am not going to give this one away, but I found it realistic, a bit stomach churning and one that I was appalled that it led to murder. There were several suspects and trails to follow that kept me guessing. I do like that Ivy does work with the police, in the sense that she shares information with and calls them when something needs to be checked out properly. I did figure out what was going on eventually, but just before the author also revealed it to the reader. Another great addition to this series and one I recommend.
Dough or Die (A Bread Shop Mystery #5) by Winnie Archer
Published August 25th 2020 by Kensington Publishing Corporation
This was a wonderful addition to the Bread Shop Mystery series. I loved that it was centered around Olaya’s bakery, Yeast of Eden. Olaya is working with women from a shelter doing a program she calls “Bread For Life”. Along with that, Yeast of Eden, Olaya and the program are being highlighted in a reality cooking show. Shortly after the filming begins, there is a hit and run involving the show’s cameraman and the death of one of the hosts, putting Ivy into sleuth mode. Are the two crimes connected? Who is going on a crime spree?
Once again, Winnie Archer, aka Melissa Bourbon, has penned a wonderful mystery with an original plot and great characters. The women from the shelter are from all over the world and in the Bread For Life Program are sharing breads from their own cultures. Now that there has been a murder, will the show go on? Each book mentions the skull, sugar cookies, but this book actually uses them in the investigation. There were not a lot of suspects in this one, so Ivy had her work cut out for her. She was able to use her intuition to pick a small thing and tug at it until something clicked. Once again, there was an interesting motive, yet the obvious culprit was not the perpetrator. This is the best one so far and I really enjoyed meeting all the new characters introduced as well as spending time with the regulars. I do recommend this book, and suggest you read them in order because they are all enjoyable, but there is character development that you would miss out on.