Cover Image: Against the Currant

Against the Currant

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Member Reviews

A great start to a new series. There was a good amount of characters/suspects and mystery. Thanks to NetGalley for the privilege to read and review this book.

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Thanks to St. Martin's Press for the free book.
This was a fun, cozy bakery mystery. I am used to the structure of these stories, and enjoyed the author's take on a Grenadian family's bakery getting tied up in a murder. The food descriptions left my mouth watering. I loved the familial closeness here. Each character was written with depth, and I was surprised by the big reveal. If you're a cozy fan, this would be one to check out.

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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?

AGAINST THE CURRANT 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.

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So here's another cozy mystery set in a bakery.

Bonus points:
- it's a Caribbean bakery owned and run by people of color
- the main character is a kick-boxer. That's unique in my experience.

Deja vu (cozy mystery bingo squares):
- there are recipes - although the one I wanted to see wasn't there. (I'd love to know details about the fish bakes.)
- despite a rocky introduction the hot cop shows signs of being the love interest, even though the way he was introduced would have put me off any kind of relationship forever.
- the main character (Lyndsay)'s family is quirky and often interfering
- the police are kind of stupid

Really, the only thing missing from the Cozy Mystery Checklist™ is a quirky pet. And I'm not sure if there's a potential love triangle, as I would expect.

Small things annoyed me, like characters "kissing their teeth". If it had all been the grandmother, I could have gone with it, but other characters did it too, so it became an annoying repeated tic. And the murder victim's character was such that there was a large pool of suspects who had great reasons to kill him - all of which were better than the astoundingly lame excuse for a motive Lyndsay was seen as having. Which wasn't really a motive at all.

I put up with small annoyances for the sake of a unique setup and some decent writing ("She moved further into the bakery, swinging her hips as though she was already at the club. Her dress with its black V-neck bodice and tie-dye skirt in blue, gold, green, and white swirled around her, picking up the music in her mind." I <I>like</i> that.) I enjoyed the fact that the family eventually banded together and helped with the investigation. Lyndsay had no business investigating anything, but if she had to do it I liked that the rest of them worked together. "I'm not trying to catch a killer. I just want to identify better suspects so the detectives will stop looking at me." OK.

But ...

"I remember in high school, you were timid and quiet. You've developed a temper since then."
He remembered that about me? It blew my mind that he'd noticed me at all back then.

This, frankly, really annoyed me. I was the timid, quiet one in high school, and I have proof that unless I was actually friends with someone in high school, they have no memory of me. This was pure ... what is it called? Fan service? Mary Sue-ism? Just really really unlikely?

I think my biggest problem with the book was the entire thread that started with Lyndsay and her cousin being shot at.

"You found the bullets."
..."They were found in the opposite direction from which Lyndsay and her cousin claimed they were walking."
..."Meaning they could've fired those shots themselves."

The latter sentence is apparently supposed to be an indication that the police thought the girls made up being under attack in order to throw suspicion elsewhere. Because they were seen to be focusing on Lyndsay as the killer, and no one else - even though that was really stupid. (I kept hoping that the main character just *thought* they were focusing on her ... but no, they really seemed to be.) But ... I don't understand the sentence. How can the bullets have been in "the opposite direction" of anything? A shooter could have been literally anywhere - it - - I - - it doesn't compute. And this could all have been settled very easily if the cops on scene had, oh I don't know, tested for gunshot residue. Like, you know, doing their jobs.

The mystery wasn't great - but it is, after all, a cozy, so I don't expect a great mystery. The writing was fine. The characters were fine. The setting was good. But one sentence near the end of the book should, in a more reality-based book than most cozies will ever, ever be, scotch the idea of this turning into a series:

"So many times during this investigation, I've been more afraid than I'd ever been before."

And yet I expect that in a year or so there will be another murder investigation into which Lyndsay flings herself, without even the slender motivation of saving her reputation.

(Also, I expect that in any future books Lyndsay will be dating the hot detective, despite the fact that he apparently legitimately held her as a prime suspect.)

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I enjoyed almost every part of this book.....except our MC. She was too timid, too wishy washy, too hypocritical; too everything not great. The rest of her family and all the other characters were great. Also, I greatly want a currant roll and a hot ginger tea now. But seriously, I'll definitely read book 2 to see if she gets better as the series goes on.

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In this book we have a close knit family who is opening a bakery and Lyndsay the majority owner and daughter of the family is now suspected of murdering the owner of a rival bakery. After the police decide to focus on her instead of looking at all suspects Lyndsay and her grandma decide to take matter into their own hands and solve the case themselves. Granny is truly the best part of the book and was my absolute favorite. I would say this book is a great cozy mystery and though its not my favorite genre it was a nice change of pace.

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Against the Currant by Olivia Matthews is the first book in the Spice Isle Bakery Mystery cozy mystery series.

I really enjoyed this book.

The characters were well written and authentic.

The mystery was great, with many suspects.

Looking forward to the next book in the series.

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This novel is the start of a new cozy mystery series, Spice Island Bakery, for Matthews. Lyndsay should be celebrating the successful opening of her bakery with the strong support of her family, but instead she quickly becomes a murder suspect in the killing of her immediate competition in the neighborhood. The story is full of twists and multiple possible suspects while at the same time, potential relationships seem to be blooming for various family members as they all work to support and try to clear Lyndsay's name.

I did struggle with some of the plot twists in the book, and that made me a bit skeptical while reading. However, the potential relationship tension among multiple people in the book, including most likely Lyndsay, is enough of a draw to bring me right back to reading the second book in the series, whenever Matthews decides to write it. Hard as I tried to resist, I did end up caring about what happens to Lyndsay's family and her bakery. And I do plan on trying out the currant rolls in the near future, since Matthews included the recipe in the novel

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Against the Currant

A Spice Isle Bakery Mystery

By: Olivia Matthews

Publish Date: 24 January 2023

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Mystery and Thrillers


100 Book ReviewsProfessional Reader

I would like to than both NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for allowing me to read and review this book.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Little Caribbean, Brooklyn, New York: Lyndsay Murray is opening Spice Isle Bakery with her family, and it’s everything she’s ever wanted. The West Indian bakery is her way to give back to the community she loves, stay connected to her Grenadian roots, and work side-by-side with her family. The only thing getting a rise out of Lyndsay is Claudio Fabrizi, a disgruntled fellow bakery owner who does not want any competition.

On opening day, he comes into the bakery threatening to shut them down. Fed up, Lyndsay takes him to task in front of what seems to be the whole neighborhood. So when Claudio turns up dead a day later—murdered—Lyndsay is unfortunately the prime suspect. To get the scent of suspicion off her and her bakery, Lyndsay has to prove she’s innocent—under the watchful eyes of her overprotective brother, anxious parents, and meddlesome extended family—what could go wrong?

Book Review:

I gave this book 4 stars. I enjoyed how the family pulled together to help Lynds in her time of need. I really enjoyed how the grandma had it all together and even pushed her to ask for the help she needed. There were a lot of characters in the book, and you had to keep them in the back of your mind as you read. Since this is a mystery book, I won’t go into it too much. The Goodreads synopsis gives you plenty information on what happens. I will say Lynds tends to go off half cock into things she shouldn’t. There were several times she could have been hurt because of her temper and her memories of how she was bullied as a high schooler. I like how she started to have more confidence in herself as the story came to an end.

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Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this in exchange for an honest review. I liked this cozy mystery. It was nice to read one that had a different feel to it even if the story line was similar for many cozy mysteries with food and bakeries.

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🦇 Book Review 🦇

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

❝We love this country we've adopted as our home. Sharing our culture and our customs is a way of expressing that love. It's our way of giving back.❞

❓ #QOTD What dish connects you to your roots? ❓

🦇 It's finally happening: after years of saving and planning, Lyndsay Murray is ready to open Spice Isle Bakery. Located in Little Caribbean, Brooklyn, New York, the West Indian bakery pays homage to Lyndsay's Grenadian roots and community. On the day of the restaurant's soft launch, however, competing baker Claudio Fabrizi storms in, threatening to shut her down if she doesn't close her doors. After being bullied in high school, Lyndsay isn't about to stand down now. She gives Claudio a piece of her mind in front of an audience, who are equally amused and appreciative that someone finally stood up to him. One person, however, uses it as the perfect opportunity. When Claudio is found dead in his home a day later, Lyndsay becomes the prime suspect in a murder. Can she prove her innocence and ensure her restaurant's success before the scandal scares away customers?

💜 As a big fan of the Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mystery series, I had high hopes for this "cozy culinary mystery." It's always fun to delve into a rich culture through its cuisine. Lyndsay Murray is a smart, determined woman finally coming into her own, ready to prove she's not as meek as her high school bullies once thought, only to have a grumpy baker revive those old insecurities. It's easy to cheer Lyndsay on as she stands up for herself, and we see her confidence grow with every page. The novel's strong familial ties are refreshing and sweet, while the aromatic description of every dish practically wafts off the page. Lyndsay's grandmother is a treat (though I hoped to hear a bit more sass from her). Olivia Matthews also takes care to provide plenty of suspects and ongoing conflict to keep the story rolling. As the first book in the Spice Isles Bakery Mystery series, there's promise here.

🦇 Unfortunately, many descriptions, phrases, and even explanations get repeated too often. There's also the issue of Lyndsay's age; though she's 30 and thriving, she's still hung up on bullying that occurred in high school. As someone who was bullied as well, I know that pain never fully fades, but it's repeated ad nauseam as if to reduce Lynsday's character into a damsel in need of saving—and she's anything but. She also calls her parents "Mommy" and "Daddy," further making it sound like she's an adolescent. There are areas where the dialogue is awkward and unnatural as well. While her cousin is positioned to act as a successful, cool, same-age foil to Lyndsay, the verbiage makes her sound outdated; like she's desperately trying to sound cool and failing miserably. One of my biggest pet peeves, however, repeats at the start of every chapter. We're told the day of the week constantly, even though the end of one chapter usually continues into the start of the next. Facts that were previously stated are repeated only pages later, as if we'd already forgotten. The amount of "tell," rather than "show" makes it seem like the author doesn't trust her readers to make sense of what's right in front of them, even though the killer is fairly obvious long before the ending. With so much build-up, the reveal and motive were a bit disappointing as well.

🍲 I'm eager to see how the series continues (and what new dishes are featured, because reading this definitely made me hungry). If you love the Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mystery series, definitely give the Spice Isle Bakery series a try.

🔪 Cozy Mystery
🥊 Kick-boxing badass
💜 Family First
🍲 Delicious Dishes

🦇 Major thanks to the author and publisher for providing an ARC of this book via Netgalley. 🥰 This does not affect my opinion regarding the book.

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This is a pleasant "girl and her bakery dream come true", with a twist that includes her Grenadian family helping her in the bakery, and a neighborhood full of nosy West Indians who all have something to say about her murdered competitor.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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This is a great , cozy mystery book to enjoy during these cold months! I loved the array of characters and the family dynamic of this story. It added a unique aspect and different take on the usual mystery story. The main character, Lyndsay has such an endearing and charming personality and adding the mix of all her other family members made the story even more fun and enjoyable.

This is the first book in the new series and I can’t wait to read the rest of them!

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Another fabulous fresh and modern take on the slightly dowdy cozy mystery genre - this mystery is not set in a small town, it is set in Brooklyn, yes, the bakery owner is also a sleuth but she doesn't sell the standard bakery fare - she has a bakery that specializes on Caribbean specialties and they sound mouthwatering. In a funny twist she is not the main baker - she isn't even a good baker, her parents and grandmother are baking, she is the numbers and marketing whiz.
When a rival baker is killed after an altercation at her bakery's soft launch - she finds herself on the suspect list and since that is not good for business (or much else for that matter) she starts taking things in her own hands and uses her granny's knowledge about people and her own investigative skills. This was a fun one and it comes with recipes that I am sure to try ! It had a fun (absolutely non-dowdy vibe) and I will look for the next book on this series because I want to spend more time with these characters!

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This culinary mystery was a fun and tasty read. It follows a young woman who is opening a West Indian bakery along with her family in a Brooklyn community she loves. When she has a confrontation with a neighboring bakery owner who turns up dead the next day she becomes the prime suspect in a murder investigation and must figure out a way to clear her name.

I loved the Grenadian representation, the way the whole family was involved and supportive, seeing a young woman gain her confidence, and the yummy food descriptions. The prose seemed a little repetitive to me at times and I didn’t feel like there were a lot of surprises, but it was a quick and enjoyable listen and fit well in the cozy mystery category. The narrator did really well with the different voices and it was a smooth listen.

There are also a couple recipes included and I made the coconut bread which turned out very tasty!

Trigger/content warnings: suicide, murder (nothing graphic at all with either—the book stays very mild).

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This is book one of a new series. Lyndsay Murray is opening Spice Isle Bakery with her family. They feature food from their West Indian background. A rival baker is not happy with the new bakery and threatens to close Lyndsay down. After he is found murdered Lyndsay becomes the number one suspect. She decides to investigate on her own to save herself and her business. Good whodunit.

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As the first book in the Spice Isle Bakery series, it was amazing how fast I fell in love with this book. Between her dedication to her family and the little glimpses into who she was before the novel took place, Lyndsay was immediately likable. Furthermore, these glances into her past and who she used to be really solidified the strong woman that she was in the book. I was emotionally invested not only in the case and seeing her clear her name, but also the bakery itself.

While the Investigation itself moved rather slowly, I appreciated that there were still so many other aspects of the story to fill the gaps. It was lovely to see inside the lives of Lynsay’s mother, father, granny, and brother. Knowing that I would get to learn more about the characters that were so close to Lyndsay’s heart helped smooth over any problems I had with the pacing and slightly repetitive nature of the mystery.

The ending was absolutely perfect given all the information that I had been able to piece together throughout my reading. I appreciated that while I had my guesses, it never took away from the story. There was never a moment where my emotional investment wavered.

This is the perfect cozy mystery for anyone who is prepared to be very hungry after reading. The descriptions of the food were incredible and left me wanting to try so many new foods. I cannot wait to see how all of the loose ends and potential future plot points turn out in future books!

4.5/5 Stars

Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read this eARC in exchange for my honest review.

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Against the Currant by Olivia Matthews is a new and wonderful cozy mystery from the Spice Isle Bakery series. Matthews doesn’t quite have the rhythm down, but she’s close. It was a delightful mystery about regular folks, and a murderer with an everyday motive. Lyndsay is from a family that has emigrated from Grenada in the Caribbean. They have lived in the same house for years, Mom and Dad, Granny, and Lyndsay. Her brother, Dev, was a lawyer and lived at his own place. As a team they had opened this bakery. She had used her savings, her mom and dad had contributed a lot, and Dev and Granny were minority shareholders. It was the soft opening, Saturday and Sunday, closed Monday and Tuesday, and grand opening scheduled for Wednesday. Claudio Fabrizi was one of the early customers, raving at her for the umpteenth time that she was ruining his business and he would take her down. She responded in no uncertain terms that he should get a grip and get out. All was well, until Claudio turned up dead, murdered. The police thought she was the best suspect and she couldn’t let that stand so she started her own investigation.

Lynds was the shy girl who crept down the sides of the hallways in high school, hoping to go unnoticed. She had gone to college, gotten a degreem and worked in a marketing firm and she was no longer that girl. She kick boxed every morning for exercise and stress relief and she could stand up for herself. She had plenty of back up with her immediate family and her large extended family who all lived in the same community. She was an excellent character and written well by Matthews. Several of the characters were especially strong, including Granny and Alphonso, her lawyer. I expect the others to flesh out as the series progresses. The plot was a good one, but a little weak in the ending. It all happened too fast and was too pat. All in all, it was a terrific book, putting a taste of the Caribbean on the page. I recommend it.

I was invited to read a free e-ARC of Against the Currant by St Martin’s Press, through Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions are mine. #Netgalley #StMartinsPress #OliviaMatthews #AgainstTheCurrant

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Are you interested in: a cozy mystery set in a Brooklyn neighborhood, where the a new bakery is opened by a family who is beloved to the community?
A comedic grandma and tight-knit West Indian family?

If yes, then you should definitely check out Olivia Matthews' latest cozy mystery release, Against the Currant. Not only will you develop a hankering for baked goods that seem only a short walk away, but you'll also be pulled into the warm family dynamic that helps the strengths of the story linger after you've flipped the last page.

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In Olivia Matthews’ new Spice Isle Bakery mystery series, Lyndsay Murray and her family are the proud owners of Spice Islands Bakery, a family business offering delicious cuisine and baked goods from their Grenadian heritage. The community is incredibly supportive, except for rival baker Claudio Fabrizi, who shows up on opening day ranting about putting the Murrays out of business. Lyndsay gets into a heated argument with him, which unfortunately, makes her the prime suspect when Claudio is found murdered the next day.

What a great book this is! The mystery is entertaining and has enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. The plot moves along and keeps you turning the pages until the last page, which, fortunately, includes recipes for the delicious dishes in the book. My favorite part, however, is the Murray family. Their love and support for each other is lovely. They are so relatable and loveable, especially Lyndsay’s Zumba-dancing, advice-giving granny. She is such a hoot.

I’m looking forward to the next book in the series and spending time at Spice Isle Bakery.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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