Attending a swanky cookie exchange is the last thing on veterinarian Dr. Mandy Brown’s holiday to-do list, but she agrees to help a friend out. The party comes to a screeching halt after a body turns up on the kitchen floor, a carving knife jutting out of his back.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Mandy comes face-to-face with Officer Dylan Shaw, a man she thought she was dating until he ghosted her. Tensions escalate as motives for murder come out of the pantry as fast as guests scarf down the pot-spiked brownies, making everything all the merrier.
Although the case seems open and shut, Mandy doesn’t believe the evidence. Can she and Dylan put their differences aside and find the real killer, or risk one of the bakers getting away with murder?
“Cheating? It’s not a contest, who cares if they bought cookies?” Shaw asks. For a cop, it’s odd he doesn’t understand cookie exchanges are all about besting the other bakers.
“Because the whole point is for everyone to make homemade cookies and share the recipe. If one of these women stooped to passing off bakery cookies as their own, they might be capable of murder.”
His frown deepens to a scowl. “I think you might be taking this baking thing a little too seriously but fine, I’ll check.”
Dylan Shaw inches to the kitchen doorway, careful not to cross the police tape. The room is crowded with the forensic team doing their thing. I catch a glimpse of one of them bagging the murder weapon, a knife with an elaborate Christmas tree on the handle. I wonder if it belongs to Agnes? It doesn’t seem her style, but would a killer really bring a knife to a cookie party?
I creep closer to see if the butcher block is missing a knife when Shaw turns and plows smack into me. I stumble backwards—darn these high heels anyway. Shaw has quick reflexes and grabs my arms to hold me steady. I don’t fall, but my knees turn to jelly at his touch.
“You’re right, the box is stamped with Queen Bea Bakery. I’m going to let the detective know. You should rejoin the rest of the, um…”
He couldn’t quite finish the sentence, so I finish it for him. “Suspects?”
Marla White is a story analysis instructor at UCLA and writing coach who lives in Los Angeles. She graduated from the University of Kentucky where she took her first horseback riding lesson. After dabbling in hunters, barrel racing, and weekly trail rides, she fell hopelessly in love with the sport of eventing. She conquered Novice level before taking a break to pursue novel writing but hopes to return to the saddle some day soon. When she’s not writing, she’s out in the garden, hiking, putting together impossibly difficult puzzles, or (of course!) baking.
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