Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Review: Murder Takes the Cake by Gayle Trent


I turned forty this year. Forty seems to be a sobering age for every woman, but it hit me especially hard. When most women get to be my age, they at least have some bragging rights: successful career, happy marriage, beautiful children, nice home. I had none of the above. My so-called bragging rights included a failed marriage, a dingy apartment, and twenty years’ service in a dead-end job. Cue violins.
[Excerpt from Murder Takes the Cake]


Murder Takes the Cake by Gayle Trent
Bell Bridge Books, 2008
Crime Fiction (MYS); 260 pgs

Murder Takes a Cake was my first experience reading an e-book. Technically though, I cheated by printing the book out so that I could carry it around to read at my convenience. For those who prefer paper books, it is available in that format as well so do not despair if you decide you would like to read this book.

Daphne Martin, named by her mother after author Daphne du Maurier, has left behind an abusive husband and a dead end job in Tennessee, returning to small town Virginia to be closer to her family. She is trying her hand at running her own business, baking and decorating cakes. Daphne’s first customer just had to be Yodel Watson, the town’s meanest gossip.

Hoping that the third time is the charm, Daphne makes her way to Mrs. Watson’s house with her latest attempt to meet the older woman’s demands; only, she finds the woman dead on the floor. Gayle Trent’s cozy mystery takes off like a shot, growing more complex and multilayered as the story unfolds.

The mystery deepens when Daphne is asked to retrieve the dead woman’s diary for safe keeping until Mrs. Watson’s daughter can come to town to get it. Inside the diary, Daphne discovers secrets she may regret knowing for all the trouble it lands her in. Unfortunately, some of what she uncovers hits close to home, and she begins to question her own family’s past, particularly that of her mother, a woman Daphne does not especially get along with.

Daphne decides to search for answers herself when her name is tarnished by evidence that Mrs. Watson had been poisoned. Plus, she cannot help but to pry into her own family history.

Daphne is a well meaning character who has had a difficult past. She can be stubborn, which proves to be both a curse and an advantage as it sometimes leads her astray while at other times makes her stand her ground even when threatened. Daphne comes close to being annoying, but did not quite go over that edge fortunately. With all the small town gossip, I wondered just how much Daphne was contributing to it herself.

There is a host of interesting characters that Daphne encounters both in her inquiries and through her business. I look forward to getting to know Ben better. He is a childhood friend of Daphne’s, now a reporter with the local newspaper. One of my favorite characters, besides Sparrow, the one-eyed cat, is Juanita who works at the local grocery store. She is a very minor character, but one that holds a lot of promise. Then there are the eccentrics like Belinda Fremont who throws birthday parties for her dear guinea pigs and Fred, a bagger at the grocery store, who runs hot and cold depending on the day.

The mystery itself is curious, leading readers in a variety of directions. Although I figured out the whodunit before Daphne did, it still came as a surprise when I realized who it was.

Murder Takes the Cake has all the earmarks of a good cozy: a mystery to solve, a cast of colorful characters, humor, and tiny hint of romance. It is a promising start to a new series. You did not think I could resist a one-eyed cat, did you?

Rating: * (Good +)


Visit Gayle's Websites:
GayleTrent.com
Daphne's Delectable Cakes
Gayle's Squidoo Page on Freelance Writing

Thank you to Angela with WOW! Women On Writing and author Gayle Trent for the opportunity to read and review Murder Takes the Cake.

21 comments:

  1. Thanks for the review! It looks like a light, fun read.

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  2. I also have an e book to review. I am not crazy about the format. For one thing it is difficult to concentrate on a pc screen. I to print the pages otherwise I'd end up with a migrain.

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  3. That excerpt you quoted is great. I'm glad this is also in print as I still haven't gotten on the ebook bandwagon. It sounds like a good cozy so I'll keep this one on my radar :)

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  4. This sounds sooooo good! It has been a while since I have read a cozy and this sounds perfect - love the cover too!
    If I had a laptop, e format probably wouldn't be so bad, but I am like you, I would have to print out the pages - I couldn't sit at my pc and read comfortably or for long. I like to cuddle up on the couch whenever possible, lol!

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  5. It has taken me forever to figure out what a 'cozy' is but I think I'm slowly figuring it out!

    Shana
    Literarily

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  6. I did the same thing with Gayle's book. I printed it out. I don't get to sit at my computer long enough.
    I really enjoyed this one, too. I look forward to reading more of her books, especially if this is a series.

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  7. Thanks for the great review, Wendy! Sounds like a good one... I love the cover! :)

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  8. Wow, Wendy! You are an excellent reviewer. I'll have to recruit you to write for WOW! Women On Writing sometime. :o)

    Thank you so much for posting this. I haven't had a chance to read the book yet (only the excerpt), and now, I'm salivating. It definitely sounds like a fun read for this chilly-ish weather. ;o)

    Hugs!

    Angela

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  9. Hi Wendy, this sounds like a good read. I do the same with ebooks. I print them out (not every single book but most of them) and bind them nicely. It's easier to carry around if I do that. :)

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  10. Kathy - It is a fun read. It's also a quick read, which is nice when you are in the mood for something like that.

    Sylvie - It's too awkward, sitting and reading an entire novel at a computer. I think if I had a Kindle or Sony Reader, it would be a different story.

    Iliana - I thought it would be a good one to start my review off with. :-) It's actually a good one for Thanksgiving too as it's set around that time period--I should have mentioned that in my review.

    April - I don't read a lot of cozies, but they sure do hit the right spot sometimes.

    Serena - Doesn't it though? The descriptions of the cakes Daphne put together sounded so delicious. I wish she was real and lived next door to me!

    Shana - Oh! I'm sorry! I should be careful about slinging the lingo around without more carefully defining it.

    Vickie - It seemed easier that way. I even took notes in the margin to remind myself of certain points later, something I don't usually do in actual printed books. I do hope Gayle continues with the character. It would make a fun series.

    Melody - It's a great cover, isn't it?

    Angela - Thank you so much! That is so nice of you to say. Now I'm blushing. :-)

    I'm really glad you brought this book to my attention. I don't always gravitate towards cozy mysteries unless they come recommended, and this one turned out to be a lot of fun.

    Alice - I'll send you all the e-books I need printed out so you can bind them for me. ;-) I don't actually have any others, but when I get them in the future. I love you careful you are with your books.

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  11. My two cents are like several others' -- I don't like to read a book on a screen, since I sit in front of a computer all day as it is. I'm not usually a cozy fan, but this one sounds appealing since it sounds like it is a little sassier than most cozies. And, since the rains have started here in Oregon, it will be perfect for a Thanksgiving weekend read. Maybe I'll give it to my single sister who just turned 40 and is in a dead end job . . .

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  12. E-books don't bother me too much (especially since I got the laptop) but I still would rather have a book in my hands. Have you read Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swensen series? Besides the yummy recipes (which I can personally vouch for) they're also good stories. Hannah owns an ex-alley cat named Moishe who is one of my favorite characters. I'll keep a lookout for these books!

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  13. Sounds very very similar to the JoAnna Carl books, which you'd probably love if you enjoyed this one :)

    Forgive me if you already know about her, she's really not known at all here in Britland! I only found out about here through an America mate.

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  14. Great Review!!!

    This does sound like a good read.

    Yeah I don't know about reading a book on the computer, I like my books to not glow. My eyes thank me :)

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  15. Rose - LOL If you do give it to your sister, I hope she enjoys it!

    Jen - I haven't read anything by Joanne Fluke but my mom is a big fan of her books.

    ReadsAllNight - I have heard of JoAnna Carl, but I haven't read anything by her. Thanks for the recommendation!

    Bethany - Thank you!

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  16. Sounds like a cute book--but not sure about the ebook format. Are all of the WOW books in that same format? I got the introductory email from them (with this book included) but didn't realize that they were ebooks? Poor one-eyed cat!!

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  17. Loved your review! I just finished Gayle's book and enjoyed it thoroughly. It sure didn't do a lot for my diet, though.

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  18. Trish - Fortunately, it comes in traditional book format too. This was my first experience with WOW, but I have another tour scheduled later this month and that book came in traditional form. I imagine it depends on the author which format you'll get? I'm not sure.

    Cheri - Haha! I know exactly what you mean. :-)

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  19. I finished my copy, finally! I enjoyed it too!

    http://notenoughbooks.blogspot.com/2009/02/murder-takes-cake-by-gayle-trent.html

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  20. Kris - I am so glad you enjoyed it too! I'm headed over now to read your review. :-)

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