I’m back with another book review, and this time it’s “Bread of the Dead” by Ann Myers! Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:
“Trick or treat—and murder—are on the menu in this first in a new culinary mystery series
Life couldn’t be sweeter for Tres Amigas Café chef Rita Lafitte, decorating sugar skulls and taste-testing rich, buttery pan de muerto in anticipation of Santa Fe’s Day of the Dead bread-baking contest. That is, until her friendly landlord, Victor, is found dead next door.
Although the police deem Victor’s death a suicide, Rita knows something is amiss. To uncover the truth, she teams up with her octogenarian boss, Flori, the town’s most celebrated snoop. The duo begins to sift through long-buried secrets and to take full measure of duplicitous neighbors, but the clock is ticking and their list of suspects is growing ever longer. Just as the clues get hotter than a New Mexican chili, one of their main suspects winds up dead. Rita fears that the killer is dishing out seconds—and her order might be up.”
Sidenote that’s not being counted in this review but I figured was worth noting: Is it just me noticing this, or are there a lot of mystery books that have a food theme? I’ve read “Cinnamon Roll Murder” and “Murder Most Frothy” come to mind, as well as “BlueBuried Muffins.” I have a feeling I might end up reading more food-related murder mysteries in the future…
Writing style: 3 out of 5 stars
I didn’t see any grammatical or spelling errors that were too noticeable, so that’s the good news. Unfortunately, the bad news is that the way the story is written lingers a bit too long describing on the setting at times, as opposed to the main characters and their actions. I’ve never been to Santa Fe, but the author makes the place sound beautiful, if only there weren’t murders going on of course. The food featured at the café had lovely descriptions to go with it, as well (some that made my mouth water as I read, I admit). The problem with the setting is that it enhanced more of the subplots of the story as opposed to the main plot. And speaking of subplots…
Overall plot development: 2 out of 5
The subplots overtook this story opposed to the main plot. As someone who doesn’t usually mind subplots in the story as long as they make sense, the subplots did make sense most of the time (which is the good news). However, the subplots had so much more precedence in the book than the main story, which was the actual mystery. Heck, I almost forgot halfway through reading that there was even a mystery in the first place! With the lack of attention placed on the main plot, it led to the main plot itself being rather confusing, and ultimately made the reveal of the true culprit feel very random, with all the explanations shoved right into the last chapter.
Character development: 2 out of 5 stars
Relationship development: 3 out of 5 stars
I don’t understand why they had to make Gabriel the true culprit. Even with his actions explained at the last chapter following his defeat by Linda and Rita, with the understanding that Tops was basically meant to be the fall-guy for this, given how Gabriel tried to frame him and all, but I also think having Gabriel (who was clearly grieving over Victor earlier in the book) felt too random to be the one behind the murder. There was little lead up to him being the one all along behind the murdering, which I blame on the lack of main plot development.
Rita and Linda were likeable on the most part, but I think they lacked some depth. I liked their friendship, but I also felt that individually, they lacked development. This lack of individual development contributed to them not being very interesting to read despite their likeability.
As for Rita and Jake and the relationship development between them, I do think that there was some attempt to build chemistry between them, which was a subplot in itself. However, this was one of the subplots that didn’t really get enough time to really flourish. However, this is the first book in a series, so maybe this is something the author wishes to develop through later books.