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Profiteroles and Poison by Agatha Frost

Title: Profiteroles and Poison (A Peridale Café Cozy Mystery #21)

Author: Agatha Frost

Published on: 4th March 2021

Genre: Cozy Mystery

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Profiteroles and Poison is the 21st book in Agatha Frost’s Peridale Café series. Gosh, 21 books in the series and still going strong!

I have read all the books in this series. The first few are totally worth it. The rest are so-so; hit and miss at times. I was disappointed with the previous book of this series – Cocktails and Cowardice. If I have to compare the previous one to this, I feel the latter is far better. We are at a stage where the character development and/or growth has reached its saturation point. Dot, Julia’s crazy grandmother is no longer quirky. Barker has changed his profession twice – from detective to writer and writer to PI. Katie, Julia’s stepmother, and Jessie, Julia’s adopted daughter are the only two characters who seem to have something new in every story.

Julia still dresses like it’s the 1940s. She owns a café in Peridale – it’s always jam packed; seems like nobody in the village ever makes breakfast or lunch. Lol! So far, Julia has solved 20 cases – except for two, the others were in Peridale. People dropping dead every now and then in Peridale, doesn’t this make it a murder town or something?

Rant over, let’s move on with the review. Overall, Profiteroles and Poison was a good read. A couple of red herrings and twists made the story interesting. The book club is hosted at Julia’s café; Lynn, one of the members chokes to death soon after popping one of the profiteroles. As Julia and Barker start to investigate (they are curious, what can I say!) they learn Lynn was blackmailing the rest of book club members. Jessie seems to be happy to hear Lynn’s dead – Barker is worried she had something to do with the murder.

I loved the mystery behind the murder. The list of suspects is long – after all, the victim was a blackmailer. We also have a side-story – one of the villagers has gone missing and Barker is asked to investigate the case. Julia is heavily pregnant and yet she travels by bus (once) in search of clues. She visits Fern Moore, the place where she was attacked months ago, and meets Lynn’s landlord. What I do not understand is, why would Julia put herself and her unborn child’s life in danger by travelling to a seedy place in a bus!

The side stories of the supporting characters – Katie, Brian, Alfie, Dot and the rest – have lost their charm. Having said that, Jessie seems worried about something. As the story proceeds, we get to know the reason behind it, proving Jessie’s changed a lot since Julia took her in. Barker has been receiving threatening letters from a deranged fan. They want him to write another novel. Barker finally solves the mystery behind these letters and finds the perp, but somehow, it felt way too dramatic – Julia wants to have a chat with them and sort out things, knowing she might put her life at risk.

The final twist seemed a little weird. Unexpected but somehow I felt it didn’t do justice to the suspense built up throughout the story. The story ends with Julia going into labor and Dotty becoming a great-grandma. Like I mentioned before, the latter books in this series are a hit or miss. Profiteroles and Poison was an interesting read and I am looking forward to seeing how the baby and parenting duties affect Barker and Julia’s sleuthing life.

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