Death, Guns, and Sticky Buns by Valerie S. Malmont
Death, Guns and Sticky Buns is the 3rd book in the Tori Miracle series. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a copy of the second book, which wasn’t a huge problem but this book would’ve flowed a little better if I had. There are a few references to it sprinkled around that didn’t confuse the story in this book. For me, I like reading a series in order, so I was a bit put out.
Tori, a recent transplant to rural Pennsylvania from New York City, is still adjusting to small town life. Her new boyfriend, Police Chief Garnet, is headed to Costa Rica for a year. Tori consoles herself by throwing herself into work as temporary editor for the Lickin Creek Chronicle and promptly gets tangled in a suspicious death, Civil War artifact thefts, and sticky buns. Gooey, tasty sticky buns (recipes at the end of the book!)
The local women’s college is hosting a Civil War execution (Why a college for women was hosting this, I’m not exactly sure. Given the history of the college, it would’ve made more sense to host a re-enactment of the nurses who tended the wounded. But anyway…) A former Congressman and a college trustee Mack MacMillan insists on playing the deserter being executed and the spectators are shocked when he actually dies after someone replaced the fake bullets in the muskets for real ones. The resolution of the mystery was original and unexpected, as was the stolen Civil War artifacts subplot, and I really enjoyed it.
Tori is a likeable main character; smart, funny, easily distracted and just a little socially awkward. I find her easy to relate to and very well drawn. The other characters in the story are really just wallpaper and I’m hoping they develop a little more in the coming stories.
What really irritated me was that an assistant in a medical office would be spreading gossip about a patient’s procedures and diagnosis. HIPAA (US laws concerning health care) was enacted a few years before this book was written in 2000, so it’s not like privacy laws were anything new. Even if it was used a tool to further the plot, it was just too unrealistic and pulled me out of the story. I also thought the carousel plot thread was a little unrealistic. How do you set up a working carousel in an Amish barn?
Overall, Death, Guns, and Sticky Buns was highly enjoyable, a light read that will appeal to fans of cozy mysteries and/or Civil War history.