Camel Press, May 2011
Real estate agent Ellen McKenzie is in the midst of preparations for her wedding to Dan Dunham, the local police chief, and has to contend with the horror of a wedding dress, ruffled hoopskirt and all, her mother has sent to this forty-something bride. The wedding is just a few weeks away, finding a caterer is proving to be the seemingly impossible dream and there’s a problem with the wedding cake, a big problem. Thanks to Ellen’s and Dan’s moms, the guest list is growing past the point of no return and even the flowers aren’t going to be what Ellen wanted.
In the meantime, Grace House, a home for women who are in a difficult time in their lives and in need of some assistance, is bursting at the seams. Ellen has been asked to sell the current house and find a bigger one, not an easy task in the currently stressed real estate market. Dr. Owen Sadler’s wife, Francis, left a legacy to Grace House and, if Owen donates more as expected, the board of directors will have the funds needed to pay for a new location.
Unfortunately, Dr. Sadler won’t be making that donation. There is no shortage of people who don’t like the unpleasant man and one of them has apparently bashed his head in at the cemetery. Not long after, Grace House burns to the ground and arson is suspected. Dan and Ellen offer their home as a temporary haven for the residents of Grace House and that puts Ellen right in the middle of the investigation whether Dan likes it or not.
Murder Half-Baked would seem, on the surface, to be in the “cozy” subgenre but that label doesn’t quite do full justice to this story. Much attention is paid to the grim facts of domestic violence and dark family secrets and the author blends those themes well with the usual cozy attributes. The result is appealing and a bit edgy. I must also commend the author, and perhaps her editor, for a job well done when it comes to writing style and the quality of the actual product—what a pleasure it is to read a good story with attention paid to such pesky details as grammar and spelling!
Delaney has given her fans a nice follow-up to And Murder for Dessert and I will look forward to the next in the series as well as the first in the new series she has making the rounds with her agent.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2011.