My rating: 4 of 5 stars to Elisabeth Crabtree‘s The St. Valentine’s Day Cookie Massacre, the first book in the “Hatter’s Cove Gazette” mystery series. I downloaded this e-book for free several months ago and found myself with a few spare hours this evening… so I jumped on it and am glad I did. It was a really fun new series I look forward to reading more. I’ll even check for other series by this author.
Kat Archer has taken a job at her local paper, hoping to get back into her investigative journalism career, but her new boss has put her on the food critic beat until he can hire more staff. After several bouts of food poisoning, and a few death threats, she worms her way into colleague Simon’s news reporting to try and mentor him while finding better stories for herself. When her mother’s best friend requests that Kat cover the new opening of her cookie shop, Kat has no choice but to comply. And by the time the party’s over, she sees tons of gossip and feuds ripe for the picking. But it’s when she tries to meet a snitch later that night that she finds her first dead body. And her mother’s best friend is the prime suspect. As Kat tutors young Simon, deals with the arrival of a new detective she once knew in Miami and finds herself attracted to her new boss, the paper’s owner, she’s about to crumble like the cookie. She narrowly escapes survival after weeding through several potential suspects and in the end finds herself with the culprit, and sent back to the food critic beat until they hire someone new!
For a debut cozy, it’s really good. The plot and the complexity of the timeline in the crime is pretty organized and detailed… too many things have to add up for it to be each potential suspect, and someone has to be lying, but Kat can’t figure out who it is. You can tell a lot of thought went into the relationships built between all the characters in order to make this work so well. And it really did.
Kat is likable, a little annoying at times, but heading down the right path if she can keep her opinions in check from time to time. I like her budding friendships with her fellow colleagues at the paper. And her two potential love interests both have a nice shine to them.
It was a little too short and rushed at the end. I thought the author could have drawn out the suspense and the resolve for at least another 30 pages to really keep the reader guessing. But it was done well and I will definitely read another book in this series.