A Cookie Before Dying by Virginia Lowell is the second book in the “Cookie Cutter Shop” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime (Penguin), December 2011

Olivia Greyson is the proud owner of The Gingerbread House—a quaint shop that specializes in all things cookie—and her best friend, Maddie, is her sidekick, baking up scrumptious treats for their cookie-themed parties. But there’s no sugarcoating a fellow shop owner’s terrible temper.

One morning Livie’s lawn is covered with what looks like a generous sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar, but in fact are balled-up flyers reading SUGAR KILLS. She assumes they were distributed by Charlene Critch, the uptight owners of The Vegetable Plate. When Livie heads to Charlene’s store, she finds the place trashed and catches sight of a man running out the back door.

Charlene refuses to believe Livie’s story about the intruder, and the feud between the two escalate when Maddie celebrates the harvest with cookies shaped like fruits and vegetables, setting Charlene off again. Could Charlene be hiding a secret serious enough to kill for? Responding to a dog howling on a stormy night, Livie and her Yorkie, Spunky, discover the body of a man who was stabbed to death—and looks suspiciously like the one who fled Charlene’s store. Perhaps sugar is not all that kills.

Livie spots an intruder in the business next door and when he later turns up dead, Livie begins an investigation as this case hits a little too close to home. What a great read. This well-layered, page-turning mystery kept me on my toes as I tried to guess who the killer was and every time I thought I knew, the author had me changing directions. I love this great cast, especially Livie who is a spunky and determined adversary. This was delightfully entertaining read with an ending that left promises that I can’t wait to read in the next book in this enjoyable series.

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