Baking and crime make for sweet combination

The successful combination of baking and crime means the list of dessert-themed cozy mystery book series is now in the baker’s dozens.

Courtesy of Love Productions/PBS
Mel Giedroyc and Tamal Ray appear on 'The Great British Baking Show.'

Trident Booksellers & Café was looking for a crowd-pleaser. So the Boston bookstore created “The Great British Bake Off Murder Mystery Dinner,” an event that sold tickets faster than quick yeast bread can rise. Will it do it again? “Definitely!” says store manager Courtney Flynn. Thanks to the success of “The Great British Bake Off” (known as “The Great British Baking Show” in the United States), says Ms. Flynn, baking is now “culturally relevant.” “The Great British Bake Off,” a televised baking competition showcasing the talents of amateur British bakers, first aired in 2010. It has since sparked a baking revival in Britain and spawned copycat shows around the world.

But the successful combination of baking and crime actually predates the Trident Booksellers event. And it’s not surprising, says Joanne Fluke, whose “Raspberry Danish Murder,” the 22nd book in her popular “Hannah Swensen” mystery series, will come out early next year. Readers who devour “cozy” mysteries (crime stories devoid of graphic violence and often set in small towns or villages) “are looking for an escape into a calming and nostalgic world,” says Ms. Fluke.

The list of dessert-themed cozy mystery book series is in the baker’s dozens. Almost all feature young women who run their own bakeries but also solve crimes. They may have specialties (Katie Lightfoot runs the Honeybee Bakery in Savannah, Ga., and relies on paranormal abilities to solve crimes in Bailey Cates’s “Magical Bakery” series), but all somehow combine pastry creation with criminal investigation. Ellie Alexander, who published the first book in her “Bakeshop Mystery” series, starring Jules Capshaw, owner of Torte bakery in Ashland, Ore., in 2014, says the sleuthing-dessert connection is no mystery to her. “In a cozy [series], a problem is perfectly solved within the space of a book,” she says. The solution is comforting and satisfying – not unlike a slice of warm cherry pie.

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