Christmas is so close to arriving in Hillside, Texas that Heather Shepherd, owner of Donut Delights, can barely stand it. Heather can’t focus too much on the holiday season because she has donuts to bake, a daughter to care for, and a husband, Hillside Police Detective Ryan, to worry about.

But there’s always time for some fun though so Heather, her daughter Lilly, and best friend Amy Givens go to the gingerbread workshop run by fellow local baker, Julie Brookes. It’s a fun day of making gingerbread houses at the workshop and then taking them home to demolish them by eating. The fun quickly came to an end when Julie was found murdered in her office. Julie was stabbed by a sharpened candy cane.

Heather had gone to the office to ask Julie a question when she heard Julie arguing with another woman. Then there was a thud as if someone fell on the floor. Heather went in and found Julie lying on the ground but the other woman was gone.

Yet another murder in Hillside and private investigator Heather and her friend Amy plan to find out who killed Julie and why.

The duo discover some very suspicious characters to put on their suspect list. One is Kate Laverne, an old nemesis of Heather’s. Kate owns Laverne’s Velvet Cupcakes. Kate hates Heather and is jealous of any other baker in town. Maybe she stabbed Julie to get rid of some competition.

Then there’s Larry Houston owner of butcher shop Houston’s Meat. Larry delivered all of Julie’s meat to her and cut her steaks in the shape of a heart. How cute is that? More strange than cute. Was Larry threatening Julie?

Penny Childe is also on the suspect list because she accused Larry of selling her rotten meat and expected him to be in his shop whenever she came in for her steaks. If he wasn’t there she would throw a tantrum. Was she angry at Julie, went into a tantrum, and killed her?

There’s also Carla Giotto who worked for Julie. Heather saw Carla in Julie’s office and she seemed to be hiding a collection of pictures and newspaper clippings. Why and what were they?

Heather knows that she has her job cut out for her but she’s sure, with Amy’s help, she will find the culprit that murdered Julie Brookes.

“Peanut Butter Fudge Murder” is the 30th installment of Susan Gillard’s A Donut Hole Cozy Mystery Series. All the usual characters are here and we learn a little more about all of them.

Fans of this series, including myself, like that Ms. Gillard doesn’t have any violence in her books, shows a loving family life with the Shepherds, talks about real friendship between the townspeople, is not offensive, and has plenty of conversations about donuts. It’s a nice series for readers of all ages and I do appreciate that aspect.

This is definitely a good series to start reading especially during these chilly winter day.

“I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.”

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