I love holiday mysteries. In fact, I love holiday-themed books stories probably above all other stories. This year I was very excited to see that we were getting another cute, cozy, and delightfully murderous American 4th of July book in Jealousy Filled Donuts by Ginger Bolton. The 4th is probably my 3rd favorite holiday after Halloween and Christmas. However, I was disappointed to see that the new entry in the Deputy Donuts series wasn't coming out until after the 4th--over a month later, in fact.
As a writer myself, I know the process of writing a book, editing it, getting a cover together, preparing ads, and all the other things that go with the whole shebang aren't exactly easy. Sometimes, there are delays or publishers just decide release dates aren't that important. Still, I can't help but furrow my brow and wonder at the decision to publish a 4th of July book just AFTER the holiday featured in question. Can you imagine a brand new Hallmark Christmas movie coming out in late January or early February? That just wouldn't make sense.
I digress. While I was sad to not have this book in my hands the weekend of the 4th, I was still happy to read it during these last weeks of summer.
One complaint I often have about holiday mysteries and books is the fact that the stories themselves often skimp out on the holiday elements. Either that or the holiday is over within the first few chapters. While Ginger Bolton's new offering does celebrate the holiday within the first quarter of the book, I felt that she packed in enough summertime festivities, fireworks, and red, white, and blue treats to satisfy any holiday fanatic. The book lives up to its cover in making the reader's mouth water chapter after chapter.
If you have a weakness for donuts like myself, steer clear! You'll be putting the book down every few minutes to run into the kitchen and see if you have any donuts left from the last time you went to your local coffee shop--only to realize you ate them all in one sitting after you got them.
Bolton also offers up a great selection of characters to love (and to hate) in this mystery. I can't stand the mysteries where the main character is always complaining about one thing another, judging everyone around her, constantly fretting over how she looks or any other inane characteristics.
Emily, our amateur sleuth and baker in this one, is a very relatable and competent person who can seriously take herself. While she has moments of romance, depression, and self-doubt (as well all do) there isn't always some man swooping in to save her or scold her. She is often finding clues and solutions on her own. Not only that, but she reports almost immediately to the police every. single. time. She doesn't go galavanting off on her own into obvious danger. (While there is plenty of danger and excitement to be had, she doesn't bring more on herself than necessary).
It is refreshing, not to mention something I'm happy to see more and more in newer cozies. (One of my favorite cozy series since the first time I began reading them was Leslie Meier. Her Lucy Stone is a real treat, very smart, and very realistic).
I think my favorite part of this book, however, has to be the perfect balance of murder mystery, cozy descriptions (plenty of baked goods and cute animals here), and thrills. That's right. I said thrills.
I love a good cozy mystery which isn't afraid to add in tiny salt and peppering of "James Bond" types thrills in it. The climax of the book was a wonderful and exciting confrontation between the killer and Emily. It remained realistic while keeping me on the edge of the seat, unable to put the book down. These scenes also showed just how strong Emily is as a person.
However, the downside to this is the final resolution of the story. Sadly, after so much excitement, I couldn't help but feel that the last four or five chapters after that really dragged. I realize it is important to let our characters reflect on what has happened and to tie up loose ends. Still, I just felt a tad bored and was wishing for that final page of the book.
For me, as a writer and student of literature myself, I am a large advocate for formula storytelling. I often got into head butting with my college writing professors on the topic. I've read many classics, but I'm more interested in formula and how it becomes a comfort to us as readers (and to me as a writer to create it). Going to an earlier comment, I love James Bond because it is the same again and again. I love thrillers, mysteries, romance, and cozies for the same reason.
However, I have to say the end of this book took a bit long for my preferred "formula."
All in all, I think this was a wonderful example of a great cozy mystery that just seems to get the hiccups in the end. If you love donuts, cats, romance, murder, and a touch of thrills you'll love this one.