Ellie Alexander: A Smoking Bun

Bakeshop #18

A Smoking Bun is the 18th Bake Shop Mystery book by Ellie Alexander. I was so excited to see the next instalment in our baker and part time detective Jules Capshaw’s adventures. Her ever growing foodie empire has been a joy to watch expand. Jules cares about her community and has forged her place in Ashland, Oregon after many trials and tribulations and has even settled her family here. It isn’t all family and fondant for her, however. Jules also has made a bit of a name for herself in helping the local police detective, known primarily as The Professor, and now also to her as stepdad, solve several murders. She tries her best to stay away from any dangerous situations, but when a friend is in need she cannot turn away.

The focus for A Smoking Bun is all around local landmark, Mount A. Jules and her husband Carlos have been hosting his son Ramiro from Spain, and now Ramiro’s family is coming to visit for the first time. Jules was nervous about meeting Sophia at first, but has established a good relationship with her online by sharing updates and photos of Ramiro throughout the year. Sophia is also brining her husband Luis, and they are all ready to see family and experience Mount A. Adding even more excitement is the annual downhill dummy event the local ski lodge is hosting. Jules’ bakeshop Tort is submitting its own first ever entry as well. Everyone is brimming with excitement, which makes sense. Building something to hurtle down a ski jump to see how far it will launch and how big of a crash you’ll get? Sounds like a very quality day to me.

But not everyone is enjoying Mount A appropriately, primarily Fitz Baskin, who has a personality absolutely no one could love. Obnoxious, entitled, and uncaring of not just his safety, but the safety of others as well. Unfortunately, he offers guided tours of Mount A, sometimes at night. Needless to say, mountain rescue knows him quite well. Everyone Jules speaks to at the lodge has the same negative opinion of Fitz, with the only variation being exactly how intensely they dislike him. As much as he is loathed, no one wished or expected his sudden death. Death by dummy no less. Such a charming personality leaves Jules and The Professor with too many suspects, too many motives, and an ever narrowing time frame in which to find the killer. With one of her employee’s good friends square in the suspect circle she has no choice but to at least ask around.

I suggest A Smoking Bun for long time readers of Ellie Alexander, or at least one or two previous books. First time readers WILL enjoy A Smoking Bun, don’t get me wrong. However, some of the character relationships have evolved and developed in surprising ways that are enjoyed best as you move through the series itself. I suggest starting with the first book (Meet Your Baker), which was also one of the first cozies I’ve ever read and definitely helped to pull me into the genre. If readers want to start with A Smoking Bun, they will enjoy Jules’ adventures and reading about the tight-knight community she has surrounding her. Some twists and developments in the previous books just help to build up an appreciation for what she has and how she got there. However you decide to enjoy Ellie Alexander’s Bake Shop Mysteries, the important thing is to enjoy it. If this is your first read, however, be warned that much like Mount A, it’s a slippery slope – you’ll need to read the rest.         – Carla Schantz