Review: Against The Currant
A Spice Isle Bakery (Book #1)
St. Martin's Paperbacks
Wayne Jordan (A)
REVIEW: I enjoy the work of Olivia Matthews. Her Peach Coast Library and Sister Lou Mysteries are among my favorite cozy mysteries in recent years. AGAINST THE CURRANT, Book #1 in her Spice Isle Bakery Mysteries Series, is a solid beginning to this delightfully promising new series.

Lyndsay Murray has dreamt about opening her own bakery and has finally achieved her goal with the help of her parents, brother and grandmother. At the soft launch, a few days before the official opening, things are going quite well until Claudio Febrizi spoils the event by confronting Lyndsay and threatening to shut her bakery down. His bakery is in the same neighborhood, and he sees Lyndsay’s bakery as competition, despite the fact, that the menus are vastly different. Lyndsay stands her ground challenges his claims in front of the whole neighborhood. Things get complicated and deadly when Claudio turns up murdered and, of course, Lyndsay is the prime suspect. Lyndsay sets out to prove she is innocent. Who murdered Claudio and why?

is a great cozy mystery with just the right number of twists and turns to keep me engrossed. There are several viable suspects and I kept trying to work out ‘who done it?’. Ms. Matthews’ forte is her characterization.  Her characters are not perfect and sometimes flawed, but they are well-fleshed out, memorable characters. I loved Lyndsay, our kickboxing protagonist and I enjoyed seeing her develop from, an individual with dreams who isn’t strong and confident at first, but by the end of the story finds her voice and strength.

I loved this story and what took it to another level for me was the references to Ms. Matthews’ country of birth, Grenada. There is a sense of nostalgia when Lyndsay is referring to the spice island. One of my own island, Barbados' closest neighbors, the references to island culture felt familiar and homey. The island  become one  of the book’s characters, always hovering in the background through Lyndsay’s grandmother’s vivid memories of island life. The story highlights pastries and delicacies of Granada and of course, Ms. Matthews includes a few mouth-watering recipes. There is also an overwhelming sense of community and family in the Little Caribbean, Brooklyn setting, a familiar element of cozy mysteries.

AGAINST THE CURRANT is all I expect from a book in the genre and more. It is a great mystery with all the expected conflicts and quirky and interesting characters. I can’t wait to see what Ms. Matthews has in the oven for us next. Fortunately, we don’t have long to wait. HARD DOUGH HOMICIDE, the next book in the series, is out in May 2023.

7th February 2023 |