I am a regular reader of several cozy mystery series already, so there has to be something potentially special in evidence to encourage me to start a new one. “The Cupcake Caper” by Kelle Z. Riley (Book 1 in the Undercover Cat Series) seemed to fit the bill, and I have to say that I’m glad I took the chance on this debut mystery!
What was it about this book made me pick up a new cozy series, you ask? The answer: intelligence, both on the part of the author and the main character, Dr. Bree Watson. Both author and character are PhD scientists, as well as smart, witty, women. Bree is able to hold down a serious, demanding job, and apply her common sense and research capabilities to solving the murder that takes place at her lab. (On a side note, Ms. Riley’s website is wonderful as well; it’s clean, easy to read, and has substantially more interesting content than the typical author website.)
The story itself is interesting and well-paced, with plenty of action interspersed with scenes of Bree actually trying to solve the crime in question using her brain. Unlike many cozy heroines (who often simply go about their lives, ask a few questions here and there, and sometimes stumble over actual clues) Bree tackles her investigation head-on, with a great deal of thought, planning, and organization.
I would actually call “The Cupcake Caper” a cozy-mystery-hybrid. While it includes the key cozy attributes (a pet, a hint of romance, food/cooking, quirky friends), this book offers the reader more. It edges toward being a “standard” mystery in that much more attention is focused on solving the crime than in a typical cozy. The heroine’s job, and the fact that she holds a PhD, make her come across as a woman to be taken seriously. There is also more of a sense of real danger than what one typically encounters in a cozy. As a result I really enjoyed the book. I liked all the standard cozy tropes, but appreciated the more intense and serious nature of the mystery. The book ends with a hint of things to come for Bree, and I look forward to reading about her future adventures.
Five out of five blocks of delicious feta!