Discovering her hidden talent for enchantment, Ella Mae makes her own wish come true by opening the Charmed Pie Shoppe. But with her old nemesis Loralyn Gaynor making trouble, and her old crush Hugh Dylan making nice, she has more than pie on her plate. and when Loralyn's fiancé is found dead--killed with Ella Mae's rolling pin--it'll take all her sweet magic to clear her name. -- Berkley Prime Crime
I haven't featured a cozy for Mystery Mondays for quite some time. While I do enjoy the occasional cozy, there have been just so many amazing mysteries and thrillers released this summer that I've been neglecting my usual pile of go-to comfort mysteries. One book that caught my eye, though, was PIES AND PREJUDICE by Ellery Adams -- who doesn't love pies? This book is the first novel in the Charmed Pie Shoppe Mystery, and I thought it was fun!
PIES AND PREJUDICE begins when Ella Mae returns to her childhood home after she catches her husband cheating on her.. with two women! When Ella Mae left Havenwood, Georgia, for Manhattan, she couldn't wait to put her past behind her; however, things have changed and Ella Mae needs the comfort of her mother and aunts. With their help, Ella Mae opens a pie shop and discovers that her pies have a magical effect -- the people eating the pies experience the same feelings that Ella Mae had while making them.
Things in Havenwood aren't exactly perfect for Ella Mae though. Rather, her life in this simple town become complex very quickly. Her high school enemy Loralyn begins to provoke her, her ex starts sending some letters asking for her forgiveness, and her childhood crush Hugh starts showing her some attention. Just when you think it can't get much worse for Ella Mae, Loralyn's fiance is discovered dead and the weapon is Ella Mae's rolling pin. Ella Mae finds herself trying to keep her new pie business afloat while also trying to solve this mystery and save herself from prison.
PIES AND PREJUDICE was definitely cute. I don't know that I'd say it's the best cozy mystery I've ever read, but it was entertaining; and I appreciated that many of the descriptions were about pies! There were all sorts of pies mentioned in the book from sweet ones, to fruity ones, to savory ones; and I liked that the author included some recipes in the back of the book for various pies like Banana Puddin', Shoofly Pie, Pancetta and Gruyere Tart, and even a pie crust and egg wash.
In addition, I thought was special that there was a little magic thrown into the story. I'm not usually a big one for the supernatural stuff, but I found it worked in this story and made it a little different from so many of the other cozy food mysteries. In addition, I liked the cast of characters, especially Ella Mae and her quirky aunts; and Ella Mae's arch nemesis is just plain nasty -- which could be a lot of fun in future books.
Another thing that I appreciated about PIES AND PREJUDICE is that I was able to start this series from the very beginning. That hasn't been the case with most of the cozies I've read this year. It's always fun to see how the characters are from the get-go, and I look forward to seeing where they go in the future. I am especially interested in seeing what's in store for Ella Mae and her love interest Hugh.
Finally, I was pleasantly surprised by the mystery angle of PIES AND PREJUDICE because it was a little more complex than I was expecting from a cozy about magical pies. Since the murder victim was actually an equine veterinarian, the mystery revolved around the wealthy horse racing and breeding community. I thought this angle was interesting and gave the author plenty of opportunity to showcase both the good and bad aspects of horse community.
Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.
Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.