Mystery Monday: Honey-Baked Homicide by Gayle Leeson

Title: Honey-Baked Homicide
Author: Gayle Leeson
Publisher: Berkley, Dec. 5, 2017. 288 pages, paperback.
Source: Great Escapes Book Tours electronic ARC

Publisher's Blurb: 
The owner of a delightful Southern café tastes the sharp sting of suspicion in this delectable comfort food mystery . . .

It’s fall in Winter Garden, Virginia, and business at Amy Flowers’ Down South Café has never been better. So when struggling beekeeper Stuart Landon asks Amy to sell some of his honey, she’s happy to help. The jars of honey are a sweet success, but their partnership is cut short when Amy discovers Landon’s body outside the café early one morning.

As Amy tries to figure out who could possibly have wanted to harm the unassuming beekeeper, she discovers an ever-expanding list of suspects—and they’re all buzzing mad. She’ll have to use all of her skills—and her Southern charm—to find her way out of this sticky situation…

My Review: 
Honey-Baked Homicide is a good read--a setting that works well, interesting and engaging characters, and a mystery that I didn't solve until the end. I enjoyed the story, and didn't feel like it was odd that the main character was investigating the crime--she had a good reason to care, and wasn't really treading on the toes of the police. I did have a little trouble keeping characters straight, which suggests to me that reading the series in order might help. The book definitely stands alone, but there were some things I felt like I was missing.

My main critique of the book was that there is too much description of food and clothing. That is, of course, a purely subjective critique--a reader more interested in the details of what characters are eating and wearing will probably not notice, or be happy to know what's on the menu at the Down South Café. For me, it was a bit off-putting, though by no means enough to ruin my enjoyment of a quick and pleasant read. On the other hand, I really enjoyed the way Amy talks to her dog as though he can answer--just one of many humorous touches that kept the book moving for me.

My Recommendation:
A good choice for lovers of comfort food! There are several recipes included :)

FTC Disclosure: I received an ARC of Honey-Baked Homicide from Great Escapes Free Book Tours, and received nothing further from the writer or publisher in exchange for my honest review.  The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."  

About the Author: 

Gayle Leeson is a pseudonym for Gayle Trent. I also write as Amanda Lee. As Gayle Trent, I write the Daphne Martin Cake Mystery series and the Myrtle Crumb Mystery series. As Amanda Lee, I write the Embroidery Mystery series.

The cake decorating series features a heroine who is starting her life over in Southwest Virginia after a nasty divorce. The heroine, Daphne, has returned to her hometown of Brea Ridge to open a cake baking and decorating business and is wrestling with the question of whether or not one can go home again. She enjoys spending time with her sister, nephew, and niece, but she and her mother have a complicated relationship that isn’t always pleasant. Daphne has also reconnected with her high school sweetheart and is pursuing a rekindled romance while desperately trying to put her past behind her.
Kerry Vincent, Hall of Fame Sugar Artist, Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show Director, and Television Personality says the series is “a must read for cake bakers and anyone who has ever spent creative time in the kitchen!”

Says Dean Koontz, #1 New York Times bestselling author, “One day I found myself happily reading . . . mysteries by Gayle Trent. If she can win me over . . . she’s got a great future.”

The Embroidery Mystery series features a heroine who recently moved to the Oregon coast to open an embroidery specialty shop. Marcy Singer left her home in San Francisco, along with the humiliation of being left at the altar, in order to move to Tallulah Falls and realize her dream of owning her own shop. She takes along her faithful companion, a one-year-old Irish wolfhound named Angus O’Ruff. She makes many new friends in Tallulah Falls, but she also makes a few enemies. Thankfully, her best friend Sadie MacKenzie and her husband Blake run the coffeehouse right down the street from Marcy’s shop, the Seven-Year Stitch; and Detective Ted Nash always has her back.
Publishers Weekly says, “Fans of the genre will take kindly to Marcy, her Irish wolfhound, Angus O’Ruff, and Tallulah Falls. This is a fast, pleasant read with prose full of pop culture references and, of course, sharp needlework puns.”

Pat Cooper of RT Book Reviews says, “If her debut here is any indication, Lee’s new series is going to be fun, spunky and educational. She smoothly interweaves plot with her character’s personality and charm, while dropping tantalizing hints of stitching projects and their history. Marcy Singer is young, fun, sharp and likable. Readers will be looking forward to her future adventures.” (RT Book Reviews nominated The Quick and the Thread for a 2010 Book Reviewers’ Choice Award in the Amateur Sleuth category)

I live in Virginia with my family, which includes my own “Angus” who is not an Irish wolfhound but a Great Pyrenees who provides plenty of inspiration for the character of Mr. O’Ruff. I’m having a blast writing this new series!

And now--a special interview with author Gayle Leeson.

Hi, Gayle. Thanks for taking time  to answer some questions for our readers! We always like to hear about how writers do their job.
 When did you start writing? Did you always know you wanted to be a writer, or did you stumble into it later in life?
My parents tell me that almost as soon as I could talk, I started telling them stories that began, "Once uppa time..." So, I guess it was meant to be! LOL!
I can relate, and you clearly have gift of story-telling.  Do you draft your books longhand or compose at the keyboard?Oh, my goodness, my process is weird. I'm not sure you could even call it a process. I have to write things out in longhand at least, until I get to know my characters well. And then I type. But I still always set out my chapters in longhand and then type the chapter. Does that make sense? Type a chapter, grab a pen and outline the next chapter; repeat.

Interesting. It makes some sense, though--our minds work differently depending on how we are writing. So,
do you create a detailed outline before you start writing, or… I'm something of a pantsing outliner! I try to get the big picture and then outline the chapters one at a time.

I kind of like that compromise! 
Sometimes writers have to find out about all sorts of odd things. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve had to research for one of your books?I'm not sure it's the weirdest thing off the top of my head, but I recently researched reading tea leaves. I'm not sure it's something I could ever do, but hopefully, I can pretend that one of my characters can.

You have a  number of different themes and careers for your heroines. What is the strangest job you’ve ever held?
The strangest job I ever had was for a small-town attorney. He was so tight that he wouldn't buy a copier, and I had to go down a flight of stairs and up the street to the courthouse whenever I had to make a copy of something! And, of course, they charged him for the copies. In the long run, it would've probably made more financial sense for him to buy a copier, but noooo...

Penny wise, pound foolish! I'll bet you were glad to leave that job. One last question: If there’s a spider in the corner of the room, do you a) panic, b) drop everything until it is removed, or c) hope it will eat the other annoying bugs that get in?
If it's in a far corner of the room, I'll ignore it. If it's in MY corner of the room, I'll speak to it and tell it  that we're good as long as he doesn't drop down on my head or something. One night I was on the porch and saw a massive spiderweb. The spider was sitting there, and I said, "That's a really nice setup you've got there--like a spider mansion or something. You should write SOME DOG in the web for Cooper." And then I laughed. Which is probably how the neighbors know I'm crazy. I attribute talking to weird things like spiders to too much Disney growing up. And, you know, being crazy. LOL!
I love it! Thanks for sharing that, and thanks for stopping by to chat with the Ninja Librarian!

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