Welcome to Torte—a friendly, small-town family bakery where the pastries are delicious…and, now, suspicious.
It’s almost spring in Ashland, Oregon, and the town is preparing for the Shakespeare and the annual Chocolate Festival. Business is cookin’ at Torte, and the store is expanding 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. Can she sift out the truth before another contestant bites the buttercream?
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Fifth book in series!
Fudge and Jury by Ellie Alexander is the fifth book in A Bakeshop Mystery series. It is March in Ashland, Oregon, and Torte is getting ready for a remodel and Ashland’s Annual Chocolate Festival. Jules and her mother, Helen have finally saved up enough money for new ovens. Before the ovens will be installed, the place will get a paint job (as well as a new register and inventory system installed). Torte is also preparing chocolate samples and cakes for the festival. Torte is one of the four showcase vendors. One of the other showcase vendors is Evan Rowe of Confections Couture. Evan states that he will be making a big announcement during the festival. Evan then proceeds to go around and sample the other vendors wares (and making derogatory comments). After sampling Unbeatable Brownies (and condemning the baker’s brownies), he proceeds to taste one of Torte’s delicacies. Evan then begins to choke. Jules recognizes the signs of an allergic reaction and asks if anyone has an EpiPen. Before Evan’s assistant, Carter turns up with Evan’s EpiPen, Evan passes away. Evan was allergic to nuts, but there were no nuts in the sample he tried of Torte’s (but their samples are confiscated). Jules knows it was not Torte’s products that killed Evan (they are very careful in the bakery) and sets out to find out who had it in for Evan (Santa’s naughty list is shorter). Jules also needs decide if she wants to expand Torte. Helen and Jules have a great opportunity, but is this the right time? Jules, Helen and the Torte gang are in for a very busy three days in Fudge and Jury.
Fudge and Jury is an easy novel to read and it is nicely written. While it is the fifth book in the series, it can be read alone. The story has a good pace and interesting characters (especially Lance). Ashland sounds like a lovely town. I relished the description of the Elizabethan looking buildings and the theater (the town is known for the Shakespeare plays performed). There are numerous accounts of chocolate treats provided in the book (so many that if they were excluded this would be a novella instead of a full-length novel). I give Fudge and Jury 3 out of 5 stars. The mystery was uncomplicated. I could identify the killer and method of murder very early in the story (right after the guy hit the floor). The murderer’s method of killing was unique which I really appreciated (has not been used before in any of the mysteries I have read). I was extremely disappointed and disgruntled that the storyline with Carlos, Jules estranged husband, was not resolved in Fudge and Jury. It is long past time to wrap up the story of Carlos and Jules (Carlos needs to go). I am tired of Jules mooning over Carlos’ voice, his appearance, his food, etc. (it is just too sappy for a mystery novel). I sincerely hope that Ms. Alexander will conclude this particular subplot in the next novel in the series.