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Gingerbread Cookie Murder II

“Christmas with my parents is always a mixed bag.”  Oh, dear.  With an opening line like this, where are we headed?

Moving to a retirement community doesn’t necessarily benefit one’s health, at least for one individual  in Laura Levine’s novella, “The Dangers of Gingerbread Cookies.”  Fans of Janet Evanovich might very well enjoy this taste of Laura Levine’s Jaine Austen mystery series.  You know you’re in for few laughs when the protaganist has named her cat, Prozac, and her mother keeps referring to the feline as Zoloft.

It’s Christmas time, and Jaine is visiting her parents at the Tampa Vistas retirement community in Florida.  Mom is a home shopping addict, and Dad is an infomercial junkie.  He spends much of the book attempting to put together a golden Christmas tree, which leads to a hilarious scene toward the end of the story.  Neither parent is aware of their daughter’s extra curricular activities as amateur private investigator.

Here again, the murder occurs late in the story, but the entertaining set up/introduction of the characters makes up for it.  Jaine is roped into helping with the retirement community’s annual holiday play.  She meets the play’s writer, Edna; the director, Gloria; and lead actress, Laurette.  And…oh, dear…all three ladies believe they’re engaged to lead actor Dr. Preston McCay, a former plastic surgeon with a huge ego.  When the doctor takes a fatal tumble onstage, Jaine can’t help but get involved in figuring out whodunit.

There’s a lot of humor in this one.  I love, love, love the interjected comments/thoughts attributed to Prozac the cat.  The characters are a hoot, and many of the scenes are like reading a situation comedy.

This was my favorite of the three novellas featured in the Gingerbread Cookie Murder.  Levine’s series doesn’t appear to be a culinary one, but it fit well with the other two.  Readers need not have read previous Jaine Austen mysteries to enjoy this one, either.  I would definitely read more.  The title’s are great, too; check them out here.

The last in my “A Taste of Murder” discussion series, Gingerbread Cookie Murder features the talents of three authors: Joanne Fluke, Laura Levine, and Leslie Meier each of whom contribute a novella-length mystery to this collection.  They previously teamed up with 2007′s Candy Cane Murder.

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