Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
At the start of O'Connor's excellent ninth Irish Village mystery (after 2022's Murder on an Irish Farm), a protester shouts, "Join the health revolution. Sugar is not your friend," outside Pie Pie Love, "Kilbane's best bakery housed in a historic flour mill," where a reality baking show is about to be filmed over the coming week. "Neither is noise-pollution before coffee," thinks garda Siobhán O'Sullivan, who's part of the security team for the show. The anti-sugar protestor collapses, possibly from an allergic reaction, after one of the contestants, Aoife McBride (aka "the Queen baker of Ireland"), puts makeup on his face for the camera. Later, a representative of the show's anonymous sponsor creates complications by providing the contestants with what he calls "secret weapons," which could be "a special ingredient, a new piece of equipment, or a coveted recipe." When one of the contestants dies under mysterious circumstances, Siobhán investigates, even as the show must go on. Distinctive, captivating characters match a gripping plot full of surprises. O'Connor reinforces her place among the top rank of cozy writers. Agent: Evan Marshall, Evan Marshall Agency. (Mar.)
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Review by Library Journal Review
Ireland's best bakers gather at the historic flour mill in Kilbane to compete in a bake-off. Garda Siobhan O'Sullivan considers herself lucky. Maybe she can sample treats while having easy duty providing security. But before the competition opens, there's trouble. There's a protestor outside shouting that sugar is poison, trying to shut down the show. Soon after the queen of Irish bakers, Aoife McBride, appears to powder the protestor's face for the cameras, the young man collapses. Siobhan suspects poisoning, but the show must go on. The protestor is rushed to the hospital, and filming begins with a full slate of excellent bakers and judges who play up the rivalries. Then the anonymous sponsor sends in a lawyer with secret twists for the competitors. Siobhan is horrified when those twists are nasty, and one ends in death for a baker. Something sinister and coordinated is happening right under Siobhan's nose, and it's up to her and the other garda to set a sweet trap for a mastermind. VERDICT Siobhan and her Garda husband Macdara Flannery add humor and zest to this follow-up to Murder on an Irish Farm. Fans of competitive baking shows or Amy Patricia Meade's cozy mysteries will enjoy it.--Lesa Holstine
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
A sweet assignment turns sour for dessert-loving Garda Siobhán O'Sullivan. A bakery housed in a small-town flour mill is hosting a TV baking competition being funded by an anonymous benefactor and featuring famous Irish baker Aoife McBride, who recently had a "freak-out" at a Fan Club Appreciation Day. The show gets off to a rocky start when a man chanting "Sugar kills!" gets his sweaty nose powdered by Aoife, who says she only wants to help him look better on TV; shortly afterward, he has some kind of attack that sends him to the hospital. Once the show starts filming, the hosts seem intent on setting the bakers against each other. The protestor's death in the hospital prompts an investigation as William Bains, a closemouthed solicitor who represents the anonymous funder, arrives with messages and packages containing secret weapons to help with the next round. After four hours in which contestants are free to bake whatever they want, some masterpieces emerge, but so does the dead body of Aoife, facedown in a cherry pie. Two accidental deaths seem a bit much, and the solicitor, who might have provided answers, has vanished. Siobhán's husband, DS Macdara Flannery, who's even more addicted to sweets than she is, takes over the case. The show goes on, if only to keep all the suspects in town while the married sleuths look to the past and present for motives. Plenty of likely prospects and an endless supply of sweet treats brighten the path to the solution. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.