Camel Press, May 15 2011, $15.97
In Santa Louisa, realtor Ellen McKenzie’s Aunt Mary finds her a new client, Grace House, the half-way house for women in trouble, who seeks a larger facility. Ellen vows to find Grace House what they need even while her and her Aunt Mary plan her wedding to Chief of Police Dan Dunham.
However, as December counts down to their New Year’s Eve nuptials, the size of the wedding attendees dramatically grows exponentially to Ellen’s chagrin. Meanwhile at the cemetery someone bashes in the head of Dr. Sadler with a cherubic statue; Ellen finds the body. Soon afterward Grace House is destroyed in an inferno. As Dan investigates the homicide and the fire, Ellen does too linking both to those at Grace House.
The latest McKenzie amateur sleuth tale (see And Murder for Desert and Dying for a Change) is a fun tale that should carry the warning of visiting bakeries at your own risk. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Ellen finds the corpse and never slows down until case solved and back to the wedding blues. Although Ellen’s rational for investigating is a sub-genre hazard, fans will enjoy the entertaining Murder Half-baked due to the heroine who believes solving a murder and an arson are easier mentally than arranging a wedding even with her having experienced one failed marriage on her résumé.