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Murder Takes The Cake
Gayle Trent
Gallery 2011
288 pages

Now released in trade paperback, Murder Takes The Cake is a deliciously sweet first-in-a-series mystery novel by Gayle Trent. Daphne Martin is a 40 year-old divorcee who has returned to small town Vermont to reestablish her life as a cake decorator extraordinaire, determined to succeed one delectable delight at a time.
Things don't go as planned, when upon delivery of one of her first masterpieces, she discovers her client, the generally disliked gossip Yodel Watson, dead on the floor. Where everyone seems to know everything about everybody, the rumour mill goes wild: The new kid in town has poisoned Yodel! To save her own reputation and discover the truth, Daphne enlists the help of the former beau, journalist Ben Jacobs, and they start sleuthing. The trouble is, many of the town's quirky inhabitants have ample reasons for Yodel to be silenced.. The challenge is for Daphne to discover who not only had motive and opportunity, but also access to an unusual murder weapon. The process reveals many town secrets which have the potential to alter many lives, including those of Daphne's own family.

Murder Takes The Cake is not an action-filled blood and guts mystery novel. Although rampant with family dysfunction, drama and complex genealogy, it is easy to read, light entertainment. (The lovely illustration on the front cover is a giveaway, tone-wise.) It rolls along like a soft summer cloud whose images change and become more interesting when the wind picks up. Several red herrings are thrown in, so you can't anticipate the ending.

The likeable, enthusiastic and smart Daphne feels like a younger contemporary Jessica Fletcher type whose own life's drama unfolds as we get to know her. Characters have depth, and interesting back stories, although Daphne's seems a bit too intense.

This gayle Trent mystery offers a recipe selection, instructions for creative cake decorating, and a set of discussion questions which could be used in a book club format.

Probably more suited to women, this novel is a nice, relaxing, and not too complicated read. The Mocha Madeira Cake sounds delicious!