What’s Cooking with... Ellie Alexander!
Last year I discovered the Bakeshop Mystery series and their author, Ellie Alexander!
Ellie is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing a multitude of pastry and other recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, or hard at work on the next book in one of her mystery series, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research.
Her bestselling Bakeshop Mystery Series (St. Martin’s Press) is set in the beautiful southern Oregon town of Ashland. In addition to the murder and intrigue, each book in the mystery series contains delicious recipes. My first introduction to this series was not book 1, but rather book 5, Fudge and Jury! While preparing for the Shakespeare and the annual Chocolate Festival, Jules is also trying to expand the bakeshop she owns with her mother. Business is cookin’ at Torte, as Jules’ team whips up crèpes filled with mascarpone cheese and dark chocolate. Torte stands a chance of being this year’s confectionery belle of the ball! Life couldn’t be sweeter?unless murder taints the batter.
Evan Rowe, of Confections Couture, makes a chocolate fountain that would put Willy Wonka to shame, and his truffles are to die for?literally? Yes, the world-renowned chocolatier has just turned up dead…right after sampling a slice of Jules’ decadent four-layer chocolate cake. Now all eyes are on Jules as she tries to find the mysterious ingredient in her own recipe. I loved this book as it satisfied my chocolate cravings (I’m allergic, so I can’t eat it!) and I eagerly devoured others in the series.
Book 1, Meet Your Baker, is an excellent introduction to the series. We meet the main character, Juliet Capshaw who has returned to her quaint hometown of Ashland, Oregon, to heal a broken heart and help her mom at the family bakery. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is bringing in lots of tourists looking for some crumpets to go with their heroic couplets. But when one of Torte’s customers turns up dead, there’s much ado about murder. Jules’s high school sweetheart, Thomas, is the investigator on the case. His flirtations are as delicious as ever, and Jules can’t help but want to have her cake and eat it too. But will she have her just desserts?
The series also has Juliet with two love interests: her ex-husband, Carlos (they were chefs on a cruise ship together) and her old flame Thomas, who is now an investigator. In Book 4, Caught Bread-Handed, Jules Capshaw is still chewing over her husband Carlos’s return to Ashland, Oregon. Could there be too many cooks in the kitchen? Whatever is stirring between those two will have to wait. Despite the Oregon Shakespeare Festival being dark for the winter, the bakeshop is bustling, the dough is rolling, and there’s no rest for the weary…especially when murder is thrown into the mix.
When Mindy Nolan, the owner of a new restaurant in town, turns up dead, the batter at hand thickens. Jules knows there was bad blood between Mindy and others in town, and tracking down the killer could prove to be an unwelcome treat. And to top it all off, there’s Carlos who is pleading–with those delicious dark eyes and sexy Spanish accent–to take him back.
This is a series with a good blend of mystery and romance which I highly recommend. The latest entry Another One Bites the Crust, debuted in January:
It’s the role of a lifetime for Jules. The Shakespeare Festival has returned to Ashland, Oregon, for the season and Torte has been cast as the supplier of Elizabethan-era treats for the main event. But on the eve of opening night, a brawl between Jules’s friend Lance, the artistic director, and a strapping young thespian named Anthony almost brings down the house. . .and the next morning, Anthony is dead. Jules knows that Lance loves his drama?and his just desserts?but she also knows that murder is way off-script for him. Now it’s up to Jules to cut through a bevy of backstage betrayals and catty co-stars who all have their own secrets?before the curtain drops on someone else. . .
Ellie also writes the Beer Mysteries for St. Martin’s. In the first entry in this, Death on Tap, When Sloan Krause walks in on her husband, Mac, screwing the barmaid, she gives him the boot. Sloan has spent her life in Leavenworth, Washington becoming an expert in brewing craft beer, and she doesn’t have time to be held back by her soon-to-be ex-husband. She decides to strike out on her own, breaking away from the Krause family brewery, and goes to work for Nitro, the hip new nano-brewery in the Bavarian-themed town. Nitro’s owner, brewmaster Garrett Strong, has the brew-world abuzz with his newest recipe, “Pucker-Up IPA.” But just as Sloan is settling in to her new gig, she finds one of Nitro’s competitors dead in the fermenting tub, clutching the secret recipe for the IPA. When Mac, is arrested, Sloan knows that her ex might be a cheater, but a murderer? No way, so she sets about proving his innocence!
I don’t know about you, but that makes me want to run right out and buy it! (and a six-pack of Coors or Corona to go with it!)
You can find out more about Ellie and her books at: http://www.elliealexander.com. Try one today!
Ellie also has a new mystery series that came out in 2017! The first book in the Sloan Krause Mystery Series, Death on Tap, debuted on October 3, 2017.
Columnist: Toni LoTempio
While Toni Lotempio does not commit – or solve – murders in real life, she has no trouble doing it on paper. Her lifelong love of mysteries began early on when she was introduced to her first Nancy Drew mystery at age 10 – The Secret in the Old Attic. She (and ROCCO, albeit he’s uncredited) pen the Nick and Nora mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime – and in Spring 2017, the new CAT RESCUE mysteries from Crooked Lane! She, Rocco and company make their home in Clifton, New Jersey, just twenty minutes from the Big Apple – New York. Catch up with them at www.tclotempio.com and www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com
Find more articles by Toni here.