The Cakes of Wrath


Can a pastry chef be too sweet?

Rita Lucero, owner of New Orleans cake shop Zydeco Cakes, can’t seem to stop saying “yes.” Even though things at the bakery are busy, Rita finds herself accepting a seat on the local small business alliance—a group full of colorful characters like Chopper Shop owner Moose Hazen and his wife, Destiny, whose personal life is messier than a cake someone left out in the rain.

On the street following a heated alliance meeting, Moose pulls Rita out of the path of a speeding van. Shaken and bruised, Rita notices the next day that her prescribed pain killers are missing. When she discovers Destiny’s body in the couple’s shop, the stolen pill bottle in her lifeless hand only adds another layer to her mysterious death. But getting the frosty NOPD detective to stop focusing on Rita and look for Destiny’s real killer will be anything but a cakewalk…


Series: A Piece of Cake Mystery (Book 4)


For fans of:  Jenn McKinlay

Rita Lucero’s got her hands full running Zydeco, a busy New Orleans cake shop, so she’s not exactly thrilled when her business partner (and former mother-in-law), Miss Frankie, signs her up to be the shop’s representative in the Magnolia Square Business Alliance. The group purports to want improve the neighborhood – a laudable goal, to be sure – but they instead spend every moment of every meeting fighting with one another, so rather than become involved in the drama, Rita vows to just keep her head down and call as little attention to herself as possible.

Then, however, then she and fellow Alliance member Moose Hazen are almost run down in the street after a particularly contentious meeting, and a couple of days later, another Alliance member (Moose’s wife Destiny) is found dead. Are the Alliance members being targeted? Or does somebody just have it in for the Hazen clan? If Rita has any hope of getting to the bottom of this mystery, she must first do exactly what she was hoping to avoid:  become better acquainted with her fellow Magnolia Square merchants…

The Cakes of Wrath is the fourth installment in Jacklyn Brady’s Piece of Cake Mystery Series, and it’s a joy to read from start to finish. The descriptions are vivid. The prose is smart, snarky, and possesses as much character and charm as New Orleans, itself. The stakes are high, the drama is earned, and the tension increases with every passing scene. The mystery is cleverly constructed; you, like Rita, are kept guessing as to whodunit and why. And the book’s various B-stories – particularly the one revolving around Zydeco employee Edie and her somewhat scandalous pregnancy – are every bit as compelling as the central plot, and add conflict, humor, and heart to Brady’s tale, to boot.

Rita’s a marvelous heroine – smart, capable, and determined, but not infallible, and Brady’s supporting cast is colorful, entertaining, and fully three-dimensional. But what I admire most about Brady’s character work is the way she bounces her players off of one another. Every single one of Rita’s relationships – from her complicated partnership with Miss Frankie, to her fledgling friendships with her employees, to her burgeoning romance with bartender Gabriel – is nuanced, realistic, and helps to not only inform character, but to also develop plot and breathe life into Brady’s fictional world.

Brady does a great job of recapping her series premise and her characters’ backgrounds in this book, so new readers shouldn’t feel a moment of hesitation about just diving into book four.  If The Cakes of Wrath sounds like something you might enjoy, though, I strongly recommend you pick up Brady’s excellent debut, A Sheetcake Named Desire, and just work your way on through; I can’t think of a better way to usher in fall than getting hooked on a great new mystery series.

Reviewed by Kat