Ivy Culpepper returned to her home town of Santa Linda, California after living in Texas for a while. Her mother, a school teacher, was run over by a car in the school’s parking lot and Ivy wanted to be back home with her father and brother to mourn their loss. Things weren’t all that great in Texas where she divorced her cheating husband and the death of her mother was more than she could stand.

For six months Ivy didn’t know what to do with herself. All she thought about was her mom until she decided to take a bread baking class at Santa Linda’s best Mexican bread bakery, Yeast of Eden. There she found a good friend in the bakery’s owner and the rest of the women who loved bread as much as she did that they also wanted to learn the secrets of baking it.

But as she became more involved in the community she also found out some secrets. One husband and wife were trying to bully the people on their street to make changes in their houses to suit the historicalness of that block. This couple has also been breaking into houses looking for something but no one knows exactly what.

Ivy has also met a man who co-owns a shop across from Yeast of Eden and is threatening the bakery’s owner.

And she’s also met her first true love who left Santa Linda when he and Ivy were dating when they were teens thus breaking her heart. He has returned to California to help his mother in running their family restaurant after his father died.

At the first bread baking class one of the women gets a phone call and excuses herself to take it. A few minutes later she is found dead in her car, poisoned according to the police. Everyone is devastated with their friend’s murder and Ivy, the bakery owner, and another women, decide to investigate. But the investigation makes a big turn when Ivy discovers that somehow the death of her mother, six months earlier, is connected to this recent murder. Was Ivy’s mother intentionally killed to cover up something? No one knows for sure but now, more than ever, Ivy is going to find out the truth no matter what anyone says, even if it puts her life in danger.

“Kneaded to Death” by Winnie Archer is the first in the Bread Shop Mystery Series and let’s just say I’ll be reading the second. This is a good cozy with a complicated murder mystery. The plot line is well thought out and the characters are great especially Yeast of Eden’s owner and her sisters.

Ms. Archer did a terrific job in making readers to first not trust some of the suspects and then having us change our minds about them. And even when you find out what actually happened you don’t hate the murderer.

I’ve read my fair share of cozies and have seen main characters baking cakes, cookies, and donuts but never a bread baker. I liked it. Who doesn’t like bread? Author Winnie Archer knows her bread and describes the bread and the baking techniques so beautifully I wanted to run out and take a bread baking course while stuffing my face with a crispy baguette.

“Kneaded to Death” is one good story and shouldn’t be missed especially if you’ve read your share of cozies like me. The story is good, the writing is excellent, and the plot is complicated enough to keep you wondering what happened and why. Don’t miss out on this novel.

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