Sunday, May 24, 2020

Review: Pumpkin Spice Peril by Jenn McKinlay

Pumpkin Spice Peril (Cupcake Bakery Mystery, Book #12)
by Jenn McKinlay
Release Date: April 28th 2020
2020 Berkley Books
Kindle Books: 272 Pages
ISBN: 978-0451492654
Genre: Fiction / Cozy Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

Life is all sugar and spice for the Fairy Tale Cupcake bakers--Melanie Cooper is engaged to the delectable Joe DeLaura, Angie Harper and her husband Tate are savoring married life, and the bakery is bustling with happy customers. Until one of their most valued cupcake connoisseurs ends up dead.

Local glass artist and cupcake lover Rene Fischer-Klein has always suffered from a wide variety of health issues. In an effort to cheer her up, her doting husband, Peter, brings her a four-pack of her favorite cupcakes every week. But when the police discover that Rene has been poisoned, there's no sugarcoating the fact that the last things she ate were the bakery's signature pumpkin spice cupcakes! With their lives and bakery at stake, it's up to Mel and Angie to find out who poisoned their artist friend and why, before their future is frosted for good.

My Thoughts
Pumpkin Spice Peril is the twelfth entry in the Cupcake Bakery Mystery series, and while it was a fun addition to the series, I don't actually think it was the best entry.  In this one, Mel is experiencing some big life changes, with her engagement and her best friend going through some life changes herself, which makes the characters much more interesting.  I do really like it when an author gives her characters a chance to grow, change, and explore. 

One of the things I have always like about these books, and it is definitely one of the main reasons I keep coming back to them as well, is the character development.  While I enjoyed Mel's continuing development and the exploration of her relationship with her fiance, I'm not quite sure I bought into the mystery in this book.  Having been friends with Peter and Rene for many years, when Mel hears that things aren't going too well between her friends, she worries about them and their relationship, as well as struggles with what she may have missed during the years as she thought they had the perfect relationship, and looked up to them.  I enjoyed the philosophical thought that came with this whole thread, especially considering Mel's upcoming nuptials, but thought the author had to work quite hard to make it sound believable.  I didn't quite buy into it though.

That brings me to the plot: a predictable murder and a quite-easy-to-figure-out murderer.  I even figured out the weapon, no brainer.  And while I usually give these books a four star or higher, I just couldn't this time because I couldn't get into the story the same way as usual, and I just didn't buy into it.  Yes, it was fun and enjoyable, but there was no uncertainty or tension at all.  Very light cozy mystery that was easy to figure out.  And while I usually love Angie's brothers, they got on my nerves in this book; she is married after all, and what used to be funny and cute was just downright irritating.  And for whatever reason, every time Joe used the term, "Cupcake", to talk to Mel, I winced, don't know why.  

Pumpkin Spice Peril is not my favourite book in this series, but it was still light and fun.  The writing and character development was still strong and present, and it is always fun to come back to a group of characters you have followed for quite a while to see what they are up to and how they are doing.  I did feel like the mystery was very predictable and it seemed like the author was really reaching for red herrings that didn't quite work.  Overall, there was a lot going on, which is fine, but the mystery kind of got lost in all the chaos. I don't actually mind change, and there will be some changes in upcoming books, so I really curious as to what the author is going to bring into Mel's world.  There is definitely a wedding in store, so I am looking forward to that.  While this was not the strongest entry, I do highly recommend the other books in this series as they are wonderful and a lot of fun.


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