Pies and Prejudice (Charmed Pie Shoppe)
by Ellery Adams
Cover Artist: Julie Green
Review by Harriet Klausner
Berkley Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425251409
Date: 03 July 2012 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Ella Mae LaFaye thought her seven-year-old marriage was heavenly. However, her bliss proves false when she catches her spouse cheating. Disappointed and despondent, an unhappy Ella Mae leaves her husband Sam Seaton in New York while she returns to her hometown of Havenwood, Georgia, with the clothes she is wearing and her puppy Chevy. Her mother, who she had not seen in all the time she was married, and her maternal aunts welcome Ella Mae and try to comfort her. They invest in Ella Mae's new business venture The Charmed Pie Shoppe as she bakes when she is upset. Her bakery proves a huge success as Georgians enjoy the tasty wares but there is something magical about Ella Mae's pies. However, there is one thorn in Ella Mae's garden; her childhood adversary Loralyn Gaynor.
The police arrive and take Ella Mae to headquarters to question her about the death of Loralyn's fiancÚ equine veterinarian Bradford Knox; whom she heard of but never met. The murder weapon is a baker's rolling pin that belongs to Ella Mae, which obviously has her fingerprints on it. Not long afterward, Annie a horse rescuer is murdered in Ella Mae's shop, which makes her not only a suspect again, but the only one in both homicides. Realizing a killer is cleverly framing her, Ella Mae investigates in order to clear her name before the cops arrest her.
The first A Charmed Pie Shoppe Mystery is an enjoyable rural fantasy whodunit as each member of Ella Mae's family has a paranormal gift. Ella Mae knows she has a talent like her mom and aunt, but is unsure what exactly that entails. Readers will find her charming and enjoy her high school crush on Hugh Dylan who makes it clear he is attracted to her. The quirky support staff enhances the feeling that Ellery Adams has magically transported armchair readers to small-town Georgia.
Every scene Loralyn appears in will remind readers of the movie You, Again though Loralyn remains a bully like she was in school as she tries to drive Ella Mae out of town, but the heroine is self-assured and refuses to cower as she did in the past.
The amateur sleuthing is well written but somewhat standard fare of a non-professional feeling a need to investigate because as the prime suspect she fears jail or worse (Georgia is a capital state). The inquiry is made fresh by the paranormal elements as the magic inside Ella Mae finally surfaces. Fans will appreciate this entertaining regional culinary whodunit (with recipes).