Bran New DeathBran New Death by Victoria Hamilton is the first book in the new “Merry Muffin” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, September 2013

Expert muffin baker Merry Wynter is finally ready to turn her passion into a career. But when a dead body is found on her property, she’s more worried about cooking up an alibi.

Merry is making a fresh start in small-town Autumn Vale, New York, in the mansion she’s inherited from her late uncle, Melvin. The house is run-down and someone has been digging giant holes on the grounds, but with its restaurant-quality kitchen, the place has potential for her new baking business. She even has her first client—the local retirement home.

Unfortunately, Merry soon finds that quite a few townsfolk didn’t like Uncle Mel, and she has inherited their enmity as well as his home. Local baker Binny Turner and her crazy brother, Tom, blame Melvin for their father’s death, and Tom may be the one vandalizing her land. But when Tom turns up dead in one of the holes in her yard, Merry needs to prove she had nothing to do with his death—or her new muffin-making career may crumble before it starts.

Upon arriving in the town where she has inherited a castle from her uncle, Merry tries to get the mansion ready for sale, but all that changes when she finds a dead body on her property, this amid persistent rumors of wrong-doings. What’s a woman supposed to do but try to solve the murder and the mystery surrounding her uncle’s life.

This was a great read that I enjoyed immensely. I love the tone and the flow of this cleverly written storyline that had me deeply engaged in the goings on in Autumn Vale. The mystery was alluringly good as the author provided a bevy of suspects that kept me on my toes. Merry is a wonderfully created character and is surrounded by a cast of odd and eccentrically quirky people who add tremendous dimensions to this terrific whodunit. With a great setting, that being a castle in upstate New York, and great dialogue, I look forward to more exciting adventures with Merry and her friends.

FTC Disclosure: The publisher sent me a copy of this book, in hopes I would review it.

previously posted on the Cozy Chicks blog

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