Melbourne baker Corinna Chapman and some of the other residents of her apartment building start receiving threatening notes. Next there’s a recovering junkie and a dark-eyed investigator/soup kitchen ‘heavy’ on her doorstep. And all of this happens before they day’s first muffins are baked! After dealing with the day’s business Corinna, and friends, are on the hunt for a missing girl as well as trying to identify who is sending them all death threats.
The characters, plot and writing are all equally solid and I was hooked by page five. It is the first of the series and accordingly takes some time to introduce the protagonist and her intriguing supporting cast. Corinna is a delight: a former accountant and wife to the stuffy James she has thrown all that in for her dream of running a bakery. She is large, loves food, throws herself into things she is interested in and early on in this book acquires a private eye boyfriend. She also has a dry, sometimes biting wit that had me laughing out loud on multiple occasions. The apartment building she lives in, called Insula, is as Roman as we get here in Australia and is populated by a wonderfully quirky set of residents who are all, at some stage, involved in one part of the story or other. If not in mystery-solving then in drinking cocktails in the rooftop garden.
Chapman’s involvement in the crimes that form the basis of the plot seems more natural and credible than is the case with many amateur sleuth stories. This natural feel is enhanced by the humorous tone of the book and a slightly left-of-centre social commentary to keep things interesting. Although definitely lighter and cosier than a lot of crime fiction we do see the realities of modern city life, such as drug addiction and social isolation, which keeps it all from being twee.
The inclusion of oddities such as a white which, a dominatrix and a vampire sub-culture could have been a disaster but Greenwood has made them all, along with the building and the city itself, fully-rounded characters rather than the caricatures a lesser author might have created. It’s a world I happily became lost in and look forward to visiting with each new instalment. It’s a great start to a series which currently runs to five books and I for one am waiting rather impatiently for a sixth.
My rating: 4/5 stars
Author website: http://www.earthlydelights.net.au/
This review is taken from notes kept prior to my blogging days and as I no longer have the book I don’t have all the pesky details about publisher and all that. Sorry folks.