Title: Red Velvet and Revenge (A Peridale Cafe Cozy Mystery #16)
Author: Agatha Frost
Published on: 28th February 2019
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Red Velvet and Revenge is the sixteenth book in the Peridale Cafe Cozy Mystery series by Agatha Frost.
In the previous book, we saw Julia solving yet another crime – someone dropped dead in the middle of her wedding ceremony. As the story ended, we saw Julia and Barker getting married; also, we saw Percy proposing to Grandma Dot. The octogenarians are surely having a second chance at love and probably marital bliss(which we will see in the next few books).
In Red Velvet and Revenge, Julia is going to judge a local baking competition. Her co-judge is a famous RJ – Tony Bridges. Though the man is a sweetheart on air, he’s just the opposite in real life. Barker Brown (Julia’s husband) is struggling with his second novel. The publishers have already sent him loads of corrections and edits and Barker is losing his mind. Julia’s step-mother Katie (who is of the same age as Julia) is in Ibiza, partying with her model friends. But things go wrong with the banana boat ride and Katie ends up breaking her leg. Brian, Julia’s father has to rush to Ibiza and he leaves his fourteen-month-old son Vinnie with Julia.
At the baking competition, Tony sees Bev as one of the contestants and makes a fuss about it. Bev is his ex-wife. But Julia convinces him the ex-wife is just a participant and (trouble) relations should not bother him in any way. The contestants were warned of Tony’s allergy to peanuts. Julia tasted a hint of peanut in the red velvet but it was too late to warn as Tony had already chewed on the cake. The EpiPen is nowhere to be seen and Tony succumbs to the allergy.
You might ask me – hey, is this a cliched plot? You know, it’s always the estranged ex who is behind the murder… Bev is initially arrested for the murder – after all, Tony died after eating a piece of the cake she baked. The police do not have enough evidence to prove Bev killed Tony. Speaking of police, DI Christie and Julia have been hostile so far in the series. Though Christie and Barker are close, Christie doesn’t like Julia snooping around.
Halfway through the story, we see a surprising change in DI Christie. I am curious to know if this trend is going to continue in the future books. We also have Grandma Dot making her wedding preparations. And yes, there is going to be an engagement party. As you all know, Dot is quirky so do expect a little weirdo engagement party theme. The party surely ends on a ‘burning’ note.
Coming back to the murder mystery, I definitely think Red Velvet and Revenge is one of the best in this series. The red herrings are plenty and given Tony’s rude behavior, the list of suspects is long. But as the story proceeds, Julia learns Tony was going paranoid that someone’s out to get him. The identity of the killer was a pleasant surprise. Like they say, wolf in a sheep’s clothing…
We also see the other side of Julia – her non-sleuthing life where Jessie, her adopted daughter is up to something fishy. Having Vinnie at home has kicked Julia’s mama instincts. She wants to have a baby with Barker. She is 39 and doesn’t want to wait any longer. So, do we see a Julia Jr and/or Barker Jr in the future books? I certainly hope so. I would definitely want to see how well Julia can juggle between managing the cafe, baby duties and amateur sleuthing.