Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dead Pan-Gayle Trent

Dead Pan
Gayle Trent
Bell Bridge, Nov 2009, $14.95
ISBN: 9780984125845

In Brea Ridge, Virginia, Daphne Martin runs a successful dessert making operation from her kitchen with many repeat customers. Her latest order is creating the cake for the Brea Ridge Pharmaceutical Christmas party held at the firm’s office. All of the guests become ill, but a vaccine for the stomach flu bacteria campylobacter helps everyone feel better within twenty-four hours except Fred Duncan who dies.

Fred’s mother Connie asks Daphne to investigate her son’s death and find out who is responsible. She agrees to do so, but makes no progress because the toxicology report comes in with the finding that none of the food contained the bacteria. No one can figure out how it got there or what the vector was that got transmitted to so many people so quickly. When her boyfriend reporter Ben Jacobs comes down with the same stomach flu, Daphne begins to have a theory how the crime was perpetrated, but she might not live long enough to talk about it to anyone.

Daphne has come a long way from being a spousal abuse victim as she is now a strong independent woman who questions many townsfolk without a second thought or concern. Readers also obtain a taste of a small town life during a health crisis as everyone knows one another. Although Connie asking Daphne to investigate seems a stretch even if Murder Takes the Cake, fans will enjoy this fun icing filled amateur sleuth cozy.

Harriet Klausner