Burned To A CrispI’ve seen some pretty strange things in my life. There was the time when my eldest son glued the baby’s diaper to the floor, or when my five-year-old ate a fly—on purpose—because he wanted to know what they tasted like. “Kind of salty,” was his response when I asked.

This all pales in comparison to a day at Sally’s Samples. It’s a specialty cookie shop owned by my best friend, Sally (Sal) Muccio. Since she returned home from Florida a year ago after leaving her loser, cheating ex-husband, I have witnessed some really weird, totally out there freaky events at the bakery, plus a couple of dead bodies thrown in as well. They take the cake—literally.

If you happen to be one of the few people in Colwestern, New York who doesn’t know me, my given name is Josephine Annabelle Sullivan. However, if you call me by that, I may have to hurt you. Josie will do just fine. I’m married with four little boys, and head baker at Sally’s Samples. Not to sound boastful, but my cookies are the best in town, especially the oatmeal crème pie ones. I tell you, Little Debbie has got nothing on me.

Sal always says it’s our shop but she’s being nice. If you ask me, she’s too nice. Sal’s the one who owns the place. Still, she lets me tell her what to do. . .most of the time.

So, here’s the thing. I love Sal dearly but she’s kind of like this magnet for disaster. Every time her life is going good, something happens and then she gets burned. Yeah, pun intended. A few months ago, her ex came back into her life and threatened to sue her for the business, then he turned up dead and Sal’s boyfriend (now fiancé) was accused of his murder. I mean, the girl just can’t catch a break.

Last night, the bakery caught on fire. I was sound asleep, exhausted from chasing my little monsters around the house when the phone rang. It was Sal, screaming that the place was going up in flames. Even worse? It looks like someone did this deliberately and yep, you guessed it—they found a dead body in the back room. How original (eye roll.)

Sal’s younger sister, Gianna, lives over the bakery. She wasn’t in the building at the time, thank goodness, but now she’s disappeared. Gianna’s a newly appointed lawyer and her first case was defending some sleaze named Bernardo Napoli who got brought up on racketeering charges. The case was dismissed when one of the jurors asked Gianna out. I know. . .more bad luck for the Muccio family.

Speaking of luck, Sal thinks the fortune cookies are to blame for everything. We hand out free homemade ones to customers whenever they make a purchase. I bake the cookies but don’t write the messages—we buy them from a novelty shop. Everyone adores the cookies but Sal. She thinks they’re evil. I mean, that’s crazy, right? Just because she got a message inside one yesterday that read, “Things will heat up for you tonight.” Totally a coincidence. Right?

Until we find another building, we’ll be running the bakery from Sal’s parents’ house. They’re lovely people, but also certifiably nuts. Her mother enters beauty contests and acts and dresses like a teenager. Sal’s father has a coffin in the living room, in case one of our customers wants to take it for a “test drive.” Yep, he’s definitely missing a few screws upstairs.

So why, you might ask, did someone burn down Sal’s bakery? Oh and did I forget to mention that the body belonged to Gianna’s client, Bernardo? Who killed him and why was he in the bakery alone? How come Sal’s fiancé is lying to her? Sal wants answers so maybe we should ask the fortune cookies.

Nah, that’s just being silly.


Burned to a Crisp is the third book in the Cookies & Chance mystery series, published by Gemma Halliday Publishing, October 2016.

From USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bruns comes the next sinfully delicious Cookies & Chance Mystery. . .

Just when things appear to be going well for baker and sometime sleuth, Sally Muccio, life turns up the heat again.

It’s summertime, and the living is easy for the Muccio clan. Sal’s wedding to her beloved fiancé is rapidly approaching, Mom’s won a beauty contest, and sister Gianna is now a licensed public defender. But when the bakery Sal’s worked so hard for goes up in smoke—along with her dreams!—she’s not sure how much more she can stand. Even worse, the man found dead in the bakery’s back room is none other than Gianna’s latest client, Bernardo Napoli.

The dough really hits the fan for Sal and Josie when they’re forced to temporarily relocate their bakery to the crazy Muccio home. Trouble is quickly stirred up as the best friend team must now contend with Sal’s father and his new mortuary business “undertakings,” a middle aged mother parading around customers in bikinis, and an Italian family hell bent on revenge. For Sal, several questions demand answers. Where has Gianna disappeared to? What role did she play in Bernardo’s death? What secret is Sal’s fiancé hiding from her? Sal is determined to find answers. . .before she gets burned once again!

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About the author
Catherine is the USA Today best selling author of the Cookies & Chance mysteries. She lives in New York with her very patient husband, three sons, and assorted cats and dogs. Catherine has a B.A. in English and is a former newspaper reporter and press release writer. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. Catherine also writes the Cindy York mysteries and coming next January, the Aloha Lagoon (Carrie Jorgenson) mysteries. Connect with Catherine at catherinebruns.net.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win either a print (U.S. residents only, please) or e-book (open to everyone) of Burned to a Crisp. The giveaway will end October 14, 2016 at 11:59 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

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