Thank you so much to author, Hannah Kurz, for bringing this, her debut novel, to my attention.
Thanks also to the lovely team at Book Funnel, for the seamless download.
PROVE IT: MURDER IN THE MIX (Likable Daisy – Book #1)
When a tragic mixer mishap results in the closing of a beloved bakery, new mom and upstairs neighbor Stephanie Wu is sure of two things:
One, she misses their cappuccinos.
And two, it was no accident.
But time is running out for the sleep-deprived sleuth. Can she solve the murder and figure out pumping before her maternity leave is up?
With a baby at her breast and a killer at her back, life and living above ‘The Likable Daisy’ will never be the same again.
Writing had long been a passion of Hannah’s, but it wasn’t until after she left her career in market research and had two children, that she tried to publish something more creative than a business report.
After penning a few essays, she decided to challenge herself with a novel and fell completely in love with the process.
The series A Likable Daisy Mystery was born and she hasn’t looked back since.
Keep up with all Hannah’s news at her website
Connect with Hannah on Facebook
Follow Hannah on Twitter
“I have always been passionate about storytelling, and my fascination with mysteries started at a very young age. As a teenager I attempted my first novels, but it wasn’t until adulthood, and parenthood in particular, that I rediscovered and cultivated my love of writing. There’s nothing quite like tiny humans to inspire an encyclopaedia of anecdotes, and a long winter (followed by a global lockdown) to prompt the search for a new hobby and career. What could be more fun than imagining violent deaths, killing off interesting characters, and getting paid for it?”
“Skilful hands moved quickly and powerfully through yeasted dough – rolling, punching, folding, proving – until each mound achieved just the right bounce when prodded”
MEMORABLE LINES FROM THE BOOK
“Her mother haunted her. Sameed haunted her. It seemed like every day pointed a finger at a different person, and these were people she cared about or was beginning to. Now she dissected their every word and move. Maybe Henry was right. She should keep her nose out of things for her own sake. However, she couldn’t resist the pull of the unknown, and tomorrow it would lead her to a violent past where she least expected it”
“Motherhood was the most connecting and the most isolating thing to ever happen to her. It was the most difficult and rewarding job she’d ever had, but some days felt like she had accomplished nothing. It was joyous. It was tear-filled. It was heaven and hell in the same day, but she wouldn’t trade it for anything”
“New mom solves a murder”
Maybe the method of the murder might have pushed this one just a little over the top into the ‘cozy’ category, however the storyline and characters kept the whole package very much grounded in the realms of a traditional murder/mystery, for me personally. As a debut novel by a new author, it hit the sweet spot for me and achieved a good balance between storyline and characters, with the concept of having a new mum as an amateur sleuth, actually working really well, especially as she has a name which rolls off the tongue so easily – Stephanie Wu.
The only slight (big!) distraction which lurked in the background throughout this story, (well, not even in the background most of the time – more like centre stage!), was Steph’s obsession with food, especially sweet tooth moments, which had me drooling over my Kindle, rather than reading it! Now I know why I tend to steer clear of reading ‘foodie’ cozy mysteries too often, and to be honest, with the amount of food both Steph and husband Henry packed away, they should both have been about the size of double decker buses! And living over a bakery with all those delicious aromas, certainly didn’t help!
You definitely need to use both hands to count up all the potential suspects in this less than perfectly executed murder and I gave up trying to ‘plump’ for a guilty party after a while, as they all had motive and opportunity, after author Hannah Kurz had laid several crafty red herrings for me to trip over, which I did quite soundly! Although to be fair, Steph also missed some whopping clues along the way, but ultimately she pieced things together long before I did.
The actual guilty party must have really thought they had got away with it, as the police, convinced it was simply a tragic accident, had already rubber stamped this as an open and shut case and released the body to be buried quickly, in keeping with the victim’s family religion. Right from the start, Steph with her natural sense of curiosity, had her doubts about the ‘accident’ theory, as the evidence just didn’t stack up for her, although no one else seemed to either notice, or to be honest, care much, for all that everyone said what a nice person the victim was. In all fairness, when Steph does approach the police with her theory about the death being murder, they didn’t dismiss her out of hand, although Detective Harris, who is in charge of the case, didn’t appear to be particularly quick off the mark about anything either and had quite a laid back approach to Steph’s deducements, being more concerned that she shouldn’t put herself and her new baby in harms way to investigate on her own. The more convinced an obstinate Steph became about foul play in the case and the more often she spoke to Harris about her concerns and the potential new evidence she had uncovered, the more he began to take her seriously, eventually coming through for her when she needed it, and just before she became another potential victim!
This well constructed, multi-layered story has excellent descriptive and observational narrative, and crisp dialogue which keeps things moving along at a good pace, with natural peaks and troughs in the action, so that I had time to draw breath, relax and take in the many nuances of the latest chapter in the life of this young couple, as new parents. Steph was also wont to talk through her thoughts and deductions about the case with either Henry, or at times, even poor baby Madeleine. With so much rich detail in abundance, it was therefore good to be able to eavesdrop from time to time, to find out what her latest thoughts were. The story flowed along very easily, was written so conversationally and with such confidence by an author who knew exactly where she was going with her storyline, that even in amongst the growing tension, as the perpetrator realised that the net was closing in on them, there were also a few lighter, laugh-out-loud moments, which allowed Steph and Henry the chance to regroup and take stock of the situation, although they still have a few bridges to mend with Mrs Wu senior!
Author Hannah Kurz really focussed on a good mix of slightly quirky characters, not defining them too deeply, with the exception of Henry and Steph, thus promoting an air of suspicion around each one of them, whilst at the same time managing to accentuate the excellent dynamics between them, making them relatable and quite easy to connect with, if not to totally invest in or engage with. Steph’s plan to gather her suspects around her in different groups at different times, as well as sounding them all out individually, also paid dividends in helping her reach her final conclusion about ‘whodunnit’ and get justice for her murdered friend.
I think that once the ‘baby brain’ has worn off a little, Steph will have a promising future as an amateur sleuth, should the series be extended. I would love to revisit to see what the next chapter in her life has in store for her. This is definitely a series worth building on.
A download of this book for review purposes, was kindly gifted to me by the author, with fulfilment by Book Funnel
Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article which promotes this book or its author.
I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a well deserved 4 out of 5 stars!
Leave a reply