Pies & Peril
Book 1, Culinary Competition Mysteries - Culinary Competition Mysteries, no. 1
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From USA Today bestselling author Janel Gradowski, comes a mystery that will leave you hungry for more…
When Amy Ridley decided to compete in the Kellerton Summer Festival Pie Contest, the last thing she expected was to find the reigning pie queen, Mandy Jo, dead—a raspberry pie smashed on her face! Mandy Jo made fantastic pies, but she accumulated more enemies than baking trophies. But when Amy receives a note threatening her own life, she decides to do some investigating herself.
It seems that half the town has a reason to kill the mean pie queen, and Amy finds herself sifting through a list of suspects that's longer than her list of recipes. Not to mention playing cupid for her love-shy best friend, fending off a baker intent on finding out her prize-winning culinary secrets, and ducking the deadly attentions of Mandy Jo's killer. If Amy doesn't find out who wanted the pie queen dead soon, her own goose may be cooked!
Culinary Competition Mysteries:
Pies & Peril (book #1)
Chicken Soup & Homicide (book #2)
Christmas Canapés & Sabotage (short story)
Doughnuts & Deadly Schemes (book #3)
Barbecue & Bad Juju (short story in the "Killer Beach Reads" collection)
Fudge Brownies & Murder (book #4)
Banana Muffins & Mayhem (book #5)
What critics are saying about the Culinary Competition Mysteries:
"PIES & PERIL is the perfect cozy to curl up with in your favorite chair or at the beach while enjoying some sun. It’s teeming with a lot of charm and great characters along with many tidbits of delectable goodies perfect for any foodie. I was really looking forward to reading (Janel Gradowski's) first full length novel and it didn’t disappoint! PIES & PERIL is sure to please any reader who loves their cozy mysteries!"
~ Peeking Between the Pages
"PIES & PERIL is a beautiful debut and I know I will be eagerly awaiting the second book in the series. (Amy Ridley) had me laughing and smiling, and the warm cozy feeling of reading a good mystery never left me."
~ Cozy Reader
"PIES & PERIL is a fun read with, murder, arson, threats and romance in the plot! This is a very enjoyable story with a very satisfactory closure. There is also an added bonus of recipes at the end of the book. Amy's many trial recipes made me hungry and inspired me to bake some goodies! Enjoy!"
~ Indy Girl
A Tasty Culinary Mystery That'll Delight the Senses!!
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This is the first book I have read by Janel Gradowski and it certainly won't be my last! I thoroughly enjoyed this cozy culinary mystery. Amy Ridley is a heroine who every woman can relate to! I loved the cast of characters too! The recipes at the end of the book sound scrumptious and I can't wait to try them! I highly recommend this quick fun read!!
After giving up her career as a hair stylist to pursue her obsession with cooking competitions in Kellerton, Michigan, Amy’s world has become focused completely around food. She relaxes by baking, seduces her husband with his favorite dishes, and even her vocabulary is filled with food metaphors and similes. So when her latest entry into pie baking competition is disrupted by the discovery of her nemesis, dead and literally with pie on her face, Amy's world erupts in chaos.
Calling on her best friend Carla for some much needed practicality and rationality, Amy and her over-burdened sense of guilt has her investigating which of the Maxon Bakery-sponsored competition contestants wanted Mandy Jo dead. It’s a surprisingly large list, as Kellerton is fueled by competition and Mandy Jo enjoyed inciting jealousy through flirtations and outright lies.
This is a book that should definitely NOT be read on an empty stomach. Amy sees the world through food-colored glasses; when she's not cooking new recipes, she's planning them, shopping for food, or studying how other food is made. Luscious descriptions of Amy's treats are sprinkled throughout the novel, and yet this is a book that could have included even more recipes at the end! The food-porn descriptions are reminiscent of the early writing of Diane Mott Davidson, and the author succeeds in seamlessly incorporating them into the plot.
What is refreshing about this debut mystery is that both Amy and Carla have very happy and sexy relationships with men that are devoid of drama. Their friendship as well feels natural, as their personalities balance the other out perfectly. Chapters alternate with narrations from both women, but I do hope that the next book in this series reveals more about the night shift nurse and alcohol-loving Carla. Her level-headedness, and self-conscious workouts to balance her friend's food-pimping and brings a level of realism and wit to this food-focused and food-loving mystery.