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by Ginger Bolton
Kensington, September 2019
280 pages
ISBN: 1496711912

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Emily Westhill owns the Deputy Donut Café with her father-in-law; there is a logical connection in that Emily's husband was a detective and his father was a police chief. They have an almost built-in client base: cops, firefighters, and EMTs, as well as anyone in town who likes a really good donut. It's early July and the shop has been tapped to provide donuts for the annual Fourth of July picnic; Emily is delighted to oblige. She is also driving her vintage 1950's "donut car" in the parade, with the King and Queen of the festivities as passengers. Or so Emily thinks, until the Queen has a hissy fit because the "donut car" is not a convertible AND so not cool enough for her. Taylor is a classic teenage diva, and her friends all know it.

Of course, Taylor is the victim of a truly bizarre method of murder: she is killed by a "stray" firework disguised as a stack of donuts. Not a pleasant or tidy way to die, that's for sure. Emily is put into the picture, literally, by an unfriendly photographer who seems to have photographic evidence of means and opportunity, if not motive. It was bad enough when her donuts were involved; now that someone has tried to implicate her, Emily is bound and determined to find out who killed Taylor. There are plenty of suspects. Taylor was not as universally liked as one might think, although anyone who remember high school politics will probably have already figured that out.

This is the second in the Deputy Donut mystery series. While the initial premise is almost too cute for words, Bolton does a very good job of keeping the obvious and very tempting cute factor to a level below coma-inducing. This is a good thing; it would be so easy to go that route. Bolton focuses much more on the characters and their interactions with each other, the lies and half-truths emerging from various of Taylor's friends and acquaintances, and who has the best motive for killing Taylor. Emily is a small business owner, which means that she doesn't have tons of free time to devote to this investigation. She also has a personal life, although it's not as tidy as she'd like it to be. So much to do and only so many hours in a day - who can't relate to that? Bolton does a good job of showing the reader how a small town, with all the foibles and cliques and political goings-on, operates and also how Emily operates within that framework. Emily has her own biases, which sometimes color her approach to her queries; this just makes her more human and believable. While JEALOUSY FILLED DONUTS is not the most complex or intricate bit of crime fiction on the shelf, it's a tasty beach read on a sunny afternoon. Iced tea optional.

§ I have been reading and reviewing mystery fiction for over a quarter of a century and read broadly within just about all genres and sub-genres. I have been a preliminary judge for the Malice Domestic/St. Martin’s Press Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Contest for at least 25 years. I live in Northern lower Michigan with my spousal unit, one large cat, and 2 fairly small dogs.

Reviewed by PJ Coldren, June 2019

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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