Thursday, April 24, 2014

Pies and prejudice by Ellery Adams

When Ella Mae walks in on her husband and some women from their New York apartment building in a compromising position she gathers up her pride, her dog Chewy, and runs to her mothers house in Havenwood, Georgia.  It is a chance for her to lick her wounds and figure out what she is going to do - apart from divorce the cheating rat that is.  With the encouragement of her mother and aunts Ella Mae decides to open the Charmed Pie Shoppe, a chance for a fresh start using her baking skills.  Her baking skills are very impressive and it seems like a good move, especially when her baking seems to have magical results for the people who taste her pies and desserts.  Her baking is having a positive impact for Ella Mae and the people in her life, but not everyone is happy she is back in Havenwood.

Childhood nemesis and neighbour Loralyn Gaynor makes it very clear that Ella Mae is not welcome back in Havenwood - especially when Ella Mae manages to snaffle the building that Loralyn wanted.  Loralyn is a nasty piece of work, which is why it is surprising that she is engaged to Bradford Knox - a charming man who winds up dead.  It's bad enough that people think Ella Mae threatened him, but when the murder weapon turns out to be a rolling pin with her fingerprints on it Ella Mae has to turn detective to clear her name.  With her business taking off and a murder to solve she has hardly any spare time, and she certainly doesn't have time for her future ex-husband Sloan and his mind games.  Can Ella Mae get to the bottom of the mystery before someone else meets a grisly end?

Pies and prejudice is a charming little story that blends together a murder mystery, a little bit of romance, some magic, and some seriously heavenly cooking.  Ella Mae is an unlikely mystery solver, she has been studying the culinary arts for years, not attending a forensics school - but she soon finds her feet as a detective, even though she sometimes bites off more than she can chew.  This was an enjoyable read with dashes of humour to spice up the storyline and a subtle blend of magic to take the story beyond your average murder mystery.  The world built around Ella Mae is real enough to touch, and the women who make up her family are interesting and diverse - and you discover more about why at the end of the novel.

The mystery itself is satisfying, not too easy to solve and with enough mishaps along the way to draw the story out and keep you hooked.  Sometimes the over descriptions got a little annoying - yes Ella Mae has whiskey-coloured hair (we know) and she is good at baking (we know) and she has a great range of recipes to use (see the back of the book for the recipes) - sometimes it seemed like the author was trying to make sure we didn't miss things so overstated them a little.  As introductions to a series go this is one of the better ones, and Ella Mae and her family as well set up to appear in future books in the series.  There is an interesting undercurrent happening with her soon to be ex-husband Sloan that has my interest piqued and I look forward to seeing if my suspicions are correct in that area.

Pies and prejudice is an interesting cross over between the world of murder mysteries and the world of fantasy and magic.  I enjoyed this book because of the murder mystery but also because of the magical element that was woven through the story - so there are bound to be other people who enjoy the same blend.  Because there is a strong element of magic and fantasy some of the recommended reads below reflect that rather than just focusing on the murder mystery aspect.

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Reviewed by Brilla

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