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by Maddie Day
Kensington Books, March 2021
236 pages
ISBN: 149671508X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

An engaging assemblage of characters makes this cozy fun to read while it provides the suspense required for a solid mystery.

MacKenzie "Mac" Almeida owns a bicycle shop on Cape Cod and belongs to Cozy Capers Book Group, a mystery-focused book club.

In the town of Westham, Mac's close friend Gin Malloy owns the candy shop Salty Taffy. Her boyfriend Tim manages Greta's Grains, his local artisanal bakery. Mac's family includes her father, Joseph, a minister, her mother Astra, an astrologer, her brother, Derrick, and five-year-old niece, Cokey.

And then there's Belle, Mac's African gray parrot, an inventive and entertaining character. The personalities that populate the Westham community help to create a fascinating setting for this cozy mystery series.

Professional genealogist Beverly Ruchart, her parents' neighbor, returns Tucker, a wriggling puppy, to Mac's Dad complaining about his digging in her garden. The next day Beverly pushes her way into Mac's Bikes, demanding repairs on her bike. Early the following day, Gin finds Beverly's dead body next to the new walk-in clinic as she waits for Mac to start their morning ritual.

Beverly's death turns out to be murder, and when a Cozy Capers Book Group member becomes a suspect, the other members decide to investigate.

in Murder at the Taffy Shop, Maddie Day creates delightful characters and realistic relationships. Appropriate red herrings and distractions occur. A natural storyteller, Day maintains an even and suspense-filled pace with laugh-out-loud humor included.

For example, Mac discovers that Belle knows how to use Alexa (Amazon's talking bot), and grapes appear repeatedly on her shopping list. Mac asks Belle why she made a shopping list, and her reply: "Belle likes Alexa. Belle likes to shop. Belle's a good girl."

Murder at the Taffy Shop is a fascinating read, and Belle, an eccentric and unforgettable character, plays an unexpected yet critical role.

Reviewed by Ruth Castleberry, March 2021

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