Cover Image: Murder is a Piece of Cake

Murder is a Piece of Cake

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Member Reviews

This was great! I always enjoy a good cozy mystery and this series is exactly what you need for a good palette cleanser. I enjoyed that you did not have to read the first book to understand what is going on. The plot was easy to follow and not so predictable. The characters are lovable and hilarious.
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In the second installment of Burns' Baker Street Mystery series, we see Maddy thriving in her aunt's bakery and with her dog, despite her reluctance to stick around at first. At least, that is, until CJ Davenport arrives in town determined to make trouble. He makes an enemy out of everyone before he winds up dead. But even with a town full of ticked off people, Maddy and her friends are at the top of the suspect list. Determined to clear their names and get to the bottom of the strange occurrences, they begin investigating.

I love, love, love VM Burns' other cozy mystery series. But, sadly, I am struggling to get into this one. Even with the growth and redemption arc she's been given, Maddy is just not a heroine you want to root for. She talks a big game about being smarter than she looks and then tells the police extremely incriminating information against the advice of her attorney??? Make it make sense?? I want to like her, but she just makes it so difficult. 

In this book, in particular, I was also thrown off but what seemed like a number of loose ends that were left unresolved. Perhaps they were supposed to be red herrings, but it instead left me feeling uneasy about everyone in town and assuming that it was a set-up for a subsequent book. I would have rather had the issues tied up. 

Thanks to Kensington for my ARC! All thoughts and opinions are my own.

4 stars - 7/10
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This series is a little different from the others of its ilk that I have read. The central protagonist is not someone who changes during the first book. Inherently, Maddy has stayed the same. She works a little more than she has before, but her thinking patterns remain the same. 
I liked the second book in the series, but it almost feels like a continuation of the previous tale (which it sort of is).
Maddy inherited her great-aunt's bakery, and after a murder and investigation in the previous installment, she is not all set to reopen with some new bells and whistles. 
Maddy is in a new relationship, feeling good about the effort she is putting into life when a new competitor springs up out of nowhere. This competitor ruffles multiple feathers and is found dead soon after. There are several townspeople who are within finger-pointing range, and this does not sit well with our protagonist. In the midst of trying to cheer up her huge dog, Maddy decides to investigate and ends up figuring things out just a little later than she should have.
It was a quick read, and the people are all eclectic and add to the ambience of organized chaos. I am not sure I will be continuing with the series, but with Maddy's absentee father threatening to make an appearance the next time around, it is a tempting prospect.
I would recommend this to the more ardent fans of these kinds of cozy mysteries with tasty food included.
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.
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Murder Is A Piece Of Cake
A Baker Street Mystery, Book #2
Valerie Burns
5 Stars


Perfect for readers craving the cozies of Joanne Fluke and Ellery Adams, the acclaimed Agatha award-nominated author returns to her charming small-town culinary cozy series featuring a social media expert turned bakery owner and sleuth.

“Snappy dialogue, a well-drawn supporting cast and an irresistible canine companion all add delicious flavor. Gulp this book down or savor it, but consuming it will guarantee a sustained sugar high.” —New York Times Book Review on Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder
With small town New Bison’s Spring Festival just around the corner, the pressure is on Maddy to continue her late great-aunt Octavia’s legacy. That means scoring the top prize and transforming Baby Cakes into Southwest Michigan’s must-visit bakery, even though her inexperience in the kitchen brings nightmares of humiliating tagged photos and scathing reviews.
There’s another reason for lost beauty sleep. A second bakery is opening in town under the ownership of CJ Davenport, a shrewd investor with a reputation for sabotaging anyone who gets in his way. And savvy, flashy Maddy tops his list. It’s a sticky spot to be in—more so when Davenport turns up dead with a Baby Cakes’s knife stuck in his back.
Maddy’s whole life just went from #thriving to barely surviving. Now, supported by the crafty Baker Street Irregulars and her new boyfriend, she must find the courage to face off against a killer who could very well get her name trending for the first and last time . . .
Praise for Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder
“Snappy dialogue, a well-drawn supporting cast and an irresistible canine companion all add delicious flavor. Gulp this book down or savor it, but consuming it will guarantee a sustained sugar high.” —New York Times Book Review


The characters are well developed and well rounded.  Maddy is preparing for the Spring Festival.  But when she finds out a new business is opening up to compete against Baby Cake bakery, she is not happy.  And when the investor is found dead with a Baby Cake’s knife stuck in his back, Maddy has to find the culprit before she is blamed.    

The author is very talented in her descriptive writing and it pulled me into the story from the very beginning.  The writing style flows smoothly and it defines the characters very clearly by their actions and words.  The mystery was well plotted and not easily solved.  You will need to put on your thinking caps to solve this one.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well crafted cozy mystery.  This is a great series and I cannot wait to read the next book.  

I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book provided by the publisher, Kensington Books, and NetGalley, which I greatly appreciate.
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Murder is a Piece of Cake is a terrific follow-up to Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder. A multi-layered mystery, with captivating characters set in the unique small town of New Bison, Michigan. A great big dose of humor and just the right amount of romance add to this very entertaining read.
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Thank you to Kensington for a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.

This may be my new favorite cozy mystery series. The vibes are perfect, but NOT boring.

🍰baking vibes
🍰small town
🍰 English Mastiff
🍰murder mystery

If there will be fall and Christmas books, I will die happy.
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I loved this book. While I haven't read the first in the series, like all good cozies, I was never left in the dark. The style of this book was engaging and well written. This was a lovely, entertaining, twisty cozy mystery and I look forward to reading the others in this series. 

This was a NetGalley review.
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I have read other books and series by Valerie Burns under VM Burns, so was anticipating another great story. There was a fire in the bakery in the first book (I plan to listen to it next to find out what happened) so they are baking in Maddy's kitchen and selling from the garage on her property that had been fitted as a roadside stand. I found that interesting as they explained the rules in Michigan about selling from your homes. Maddy is a great protagonist. Her army brat days often come into play when figuring things out which I loved. She is an instagram influencer who still does a lot of posting, but that is not her job anymore. She has a boyfriend, Michael, who is the veterinarian and is just at the beginning of their relationship. The Baker Street Irregulars are a group of friends that were brought together my Aunt Octavia before her death and are really good at solving mysteries. They are also a wonderful group of characters, some smart, some quirky, some fun, some old, some young, so it is quite an eclectic group with different sources and abilities. Of course the best character in the story is Baby, Maddy's huge mastiff who will protect her and her friends from just about anyone. There are a lot of suspects in this book, and Maddy knows something sneaky is going on, but she isn't sure what. With lots of clues, red herrings, suspects and twists, this was an interesting mystery and I was in the dark until the end. I am looking forward to seeing what is next for Maddy and all her friends, and of course, Baby.
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When I first requested this from Netgalley, the description said it was the first in a series so I was VERY confused when I started reading it. Luckily I was able to get the first book from my local library and power through it before I jumped into this one. Maddy is left her great aunt's bakery, house, and dog IF she lives there and operates it for a year. These books are SUPER social media heavy, and the hashtags drove me NUTS.  And I say that as a communications professional.. Valerie Burns has a lot of experience as a writer, but I wouldn't necessarily say the work is super polished. Then again, I'm not sure what resources she has for polishing, and I'm certainly not going to hold that against her. These are just fast, a lot of fun, and food related!! Win win win!
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Thank you to netgalley and the publishers for a free ecopy of this novel in return for an honest review. 

Murder is a Piece of Cake by Valerie Burns is the second instalment in the Baker Street Mystery series. This novel continues on three months after the first book. We follow Maddy, the daughter of a Navy Admiral. After the death of her great aunt Octavia and the end of her relationship she decides to move to New Bison, a small quaint town in Michigan that gives serious Stars Hollows vibes. There she has to live for 1 year in her great aunts old house and run the bakery before she has access to her inheritance,  But nothing is quite as it seems. Who can Maddy trust? Are there more nefarious things going on in this town?

Beware of mild spoilers ahead : 

The first book in this series ended up on my favorites of 2022, so I was so excited when I received a copy for review. I loved to be back with all the characters. I loved the found family aspect that these books have. I love me a bit of amateur sleuthing. Unfortunately I didn't like this book as much as the first. There were some problems the first book had that I really hoped this one wouldn't but alas. The pacing of both the first book and this book had some issues. It takes ages before we get the final reveal (at the 90% mark), and when we do finally get our answers, we are left with so many questions because the bad guy gets killed within 0.1 seconds. It leaves me with a feeling of whiplash. 

The quick endings I can overlook. I still have a good enough time with these characters that I will be coming back for more, regardless of how rushed the endings are. There was unfortunately a really big problem at around 30%. This is when I will be getting into spoilers. 

Maddy is called from her house by the police to come to the crime scene. Someone has been murdered at her bakery, so naturally the cops have questions. She arrives together with her English Mastiff, Baby. The lead investigator asks her to please keep the dog in her car, he doesn't want the dog to come inside and contaminate the crime scene. Personally I find this a very reasonable request. Maddy's friend April, who also happens to be the sheriff of the town, says something along the lines that Trooper Bob cannot make this request of Maddy because Baby is a trained service animal, and under the Americans with Disabilities Act he cannot refuse the dog entrance and he is also not requered to wear a vest. The facts are correct, except that Baby isn't a service dog at all..... 

I'm very disapointed that the author would include something like this in the book. It is a fact that a lot of people put a vest purchased from Amazon on their dog and pretend that they are service dogs, simply because they want to be able to take their dogs everywhere. The amount of fully trained service animals that have been hurt, bitten and traumatized by pets is alarming. Service dogs can help people with a number of different disabilities. You have dogs that are trained to lead the blind, but also dogs that are trained to detect problematic heart rythms, fainting spells, high blood sugar etc. Distracting or even causing hurt to a service dog can lead to them missing a cue and their owner getting hurt. When they are traumatized by events like this, the dog is usually unable to do his job and has to retire. A service dog costs between 15.000 and dollars. It is a huge investment the disabled person has to make, and they can lose it all in the blink of an eye if their dog gets attacked by a pet.  I simply don't understand why anyone would include this in a novel and pretend like this is an OK thing to do. It is not okay. The people who actually bring their pets with them and pretend that they are service dogs are despicable to me. I would greatly appreciate if people would just leave their dog at home, or with someone who can look after them if you're going to be gone for a while. 

So what next? Will I continue to read on with the series? Probably. I just hope that someone will actually read this review and will learn from this. Dog owners, aspiring writers and the team behind this book alike.
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Dollycas's Thoughts

Maddy Montgomery is working hard to continue her late great-aunt Octavia’s legacy and that means getting the Baby Cakes bakery reopened and participating in the baking competition at the New Bison’s Spring Festival and winning a top prize. Thankfully she has a wonderful team helping her because her own baking skills still need work. When she learns another bakery is opening across the street and it is owned by CJ Davenport, a man who just happens to have a huge connection to Sheriff April Johnson she is apoplectic and she isn't the only one. But when the man is found dead with one of Maddy's knives in his back her ire is replaced by fear that she could go to jail for a murder she didn't commit. Pushing her fear to the side she works with her wonderful boyfriend and the Baker Street Irregulars to catch the killer before #newbisonbakerdead is trending all over social media.


All our favorite characters are back from Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder. Maddy is finding her place in New Bison and slowly learning to bake her great aunt's delicious baked goods but Leroy Danielson and Miss Hannah are still doing the majority of the baking. I love the way the relationship between Hannah's grandson, the local vet Micheal Portman and Maddy is evolving. He is a great guy with a huge heart. Leroy has been crushing hard on Sheriff April Johnson so CJ Davenport's arrival in town adds an interesting twist. All the characters continue to develop nicely as we get to know them even better in this story when backstories emerge.

Baby, the two-hundred-fifty-pound English mastiff Maddy inherited from Octavia again found his way into my heart. In this story, he is feeling out of sorts and not acting like himself. His vet Michael runs a bunch of tests. It was a heartwarming moment when he and Maddy figured out what was wrong as was the solution to the problem. Ms. Burns always catches the dogs in her story's personalities so well and she did it again here. I loved it. He also protects his new person, Maddy. I wouldn't take any malicious actions against her when he is near. He went to great lengths to come to her rescue in this story.

The mystery had good old-boy Trooper Bob on the case because April had to recuse herself. That didn't mean she wasn't investigating though. As was Maddy who got some help from an interesting person. There were a nice number of suspects other than Maddy but Trooper Bob sure didn't appreciate her help. I really enjoyed following along with the clues. The case was more complicated than I first thought and had tentacles that were far-reaching. While the current mysteries are solved I have a feeling there are still things to uncover in New Bison.

Murder is a Piece of Cake is a terrific follow-up to Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder. A multi-layered mystery, with captivating characters set in the unique small town of New Bison, Michigan. A great big dose of humor and just the right amount of romance add to this very entertaining read. With Baby's Cakes now open I can't wait to see what Valerie Burns has in store for her characters next. #5starread #5recipes #perfectescape #letemeatcake #cozymystery #babycakes #englishmastiff #somuchfun
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This is such a fun series!  I love the characters, particularly Maddie and her dog, Baby.  The mystery was intriguing, well-paced, and kept me guessing the whole time.  I enjoyed getting to know more about April’s and Leroy’s pasts and the added dimension of Maddie’s relationship with Michael. The hashtags still aren’t my favorite but I just skip over them.  Looking forward to the next.
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This is such a cute series and I love all the relationships between the characters. The way that Valarie Burns writes it makes you feel like you are a part of their world and I love that! I can't wait for the next in this series to come out!

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Didn't know this was the second in the series.  Perhaps if I had read the first I would be more invested.  AND I'm not the target audience.  The multiple hashtags and influencer references really annoy me.  The story is stock for this genre.  Didn't hate it but not sure I'd run out and buy the third book.

Thanks for the chance to read it.
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Great 2nd in a new cozy mystery series, recommend you read book 1 first to get all the details.

Read if you like:

Culinary cozies
Sleuth starting over
Great friend group/side characters 
Cozies with a side of romance 
Small town setting
Social media

If you are looking to diversify your shelves
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If there’s one thing I’m going to eat up every single time, it’s a cozy little mystery that also involves food. The perfect follow up to what was already a fun and flushed world!
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This second installment of the series gave me what I was looking for.  I enjoyed getting to know more about the cast of characters and watching them come together.  The storyline and the additional characters, as well as the setting, made for an entertaining read.  

The mystery reveal was a little off for me, but I think it was supposed to be.  I found it left some unanswered questions and may not be completely solved, then ended a little abruptly.  Maybe it was a more subtle cliff hanger.  Not sure if I trust a few supporting characters.  I am definitely interested to see where book 3 picks up.  I need some answers and to meet the Admiral. 

And of course, Baby steals the show!!
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Great follow-up to the first Baker Street Mystery. The character development continued to be excellent and the story was charming.
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This is such a cozy and great murder mystery read. I was unaware this is the second title to Baker Street series. Now I want to go back to read the first in the series, "Two parts sugar, One part Murder" just to know how this journey began.
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Murder is a Piece of Cake:  A Baker Street Mystery
By VM Burns
July 2023

Review by Cynthia Chow

After inheriting her great-aunt Octavia’s house, bakery, and 250-pount English mastiff Baby, Maddy Montgomery has been using her social media skills to promote Baby Cakes Bakery to the Southwest, Michigan town of New Bison.  Live-streaming her filled-with-mishaps attempts to cook have gained her a growing following, but she’s really looking forward to the New Bison Spring Festival where she and her employees can not only showcase their creations but also compete in the baking competition.  It’s also a chance to celebrate Baby Cakes’ reopening after post-arson renovations, but casting a cloud on Maddy’s plans is wealthy businessman Clayton Jefferson Davenport.  Announcing that he plans to open a bakery nearby to compete against Baby Cakes, he offers to buy Maddy out as the tiny town can’t support two bakeries.  Reacting with the same impulsiveness that led her to New Bison in the first place (getting engaged to a Doctor and unfortunately live-streaming her being left at the altar), Maddy bets that her cakes will beat out his professional chef’s in a competition, with the loser leaving town for good.  While it’s a bit of luck that CJ gets himself murdered before the actual contest, it’s less than ideal that he’s stabbed to death by a Baby Cakes knife.

While Maddy would seem to be the obvious suspect, it’s Sheriff April Johnson who takes center stage as the possible culprit when she reveals that CJ is her estranged husband.  April kept this a secret from her friends out of shame, having left her toxic spouse when he attempted to use his former beauty queen wife as currency in a business deal.   With April suspended from the case and confined to desk duty, narrow-minded Michigan State Trooper Bob Roberts takes over and focuses his investigation entirely on April and Maddy.  Trooper Bob believes that the women either committed the murder independently or conspired together, so Maddy decides to begin her own investigation along with the help of her late great-aunt’s friends, the Baker Street Irregulars.  CJ had incensed more than just a few before he fatally departed the tiny town of 2000, including threatening a widow’s inheritance by bringing in a woman claiming to be the more recent wife.  Maddy definitely has her hands full as she juggles the murder investigation with her mastiff’s lovelorn-induced depression, not to mention preparing for the arrival of her father, U.S. Navy admiral Jefferson Augustus Montgomery.  

This second in the series continues to charm with its blend of comfort-food cooking, enthusiastic canines, and quirky Michigan residents.  Maddy continues to hashtag her life on social media, and her relationship with Army veteran and veterinarian Michael Portman has only grown stronger.  Readers’ heartstrings will be pulled by his caregiving relationship with his grandmother Hannah, a Baby Cakes baker who has been showing more signs of dementia.  Maddy herself is as empathetic as she is impulsive, and it’s the latter that often leads her into trouble when she feels the former.  Delicious recipes that combine her peanut butter twist on Aunt Octavia’s Chocolate Soul Cake will delight foodies, while the engaging characters and witty dialogue entertains cozy mystery fans.  The prolific Valerie “VM” Burns is a skilled writer who reliably delivers laughs, twisty plots, and extremely compelling mysteries.
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