Cover Image: A Half-Baked Murder

A Half-Baked Murder

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Member Reviews

This is a super cute little cozy novel. I love the setting and the backdrop and love the characters. It’s a really easy read a great one to do on a cozy little afternoon.

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<i>Thank you, Netgalley, for the ARCs!</i>

I didn’t know I was craving a cozy murder mystery until I started this book. Admittedly, I requested the ARCs for this book solely for the cannabis bakery, and it delivered. I’d definitely try some of these recipes if I was into that lifestyle.

Everything about this book — the characters, the setting — was comforting. There’s something so charming about the town, maybe because it feels like one I spent the past two months in (or even my hometown, especially since my street name was in the book).

I had my bets on who the murderer was and it was so much fun to try and solve the mystery alongside Chloe, especially since so many people seemed to have a motive. It’s been a while since I read a murder mystery that kept my interest and I didn’t guess it so I might have lost my touch. Oh well, still enjoyed it.

(Also, "the boy knows how to make a gesture" - I would love to receive a chilli plant like, god).

I’ll happily continue this series.

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This was a great start to a new series. It was a fast paced cozy mystery with likeable characters. I enjoyed the theme of the bakery using cannabis for medicinal purposes. The author did a great job.
Many thanks to Kensington and to Netgalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Chloe has just returned home to her small town from Paris, where her relationship and culinary career hit rock bottom. Her grandma has cancer, and Chloe's pain-relieving pot brownies have her Aunt Dawn thinking it's time for a cannabis bakery in town. But when a local man turns up dead in a nearby park, and Aunt Dawn is the prime suspect, Chloe is determined to prove her aunt's innocence and start an investigation of her own!

This was a super fun cozy mystery had a unique take on the bakery setting! I really enjoyed the cast of characters, including Chloe's aunt and grandma, and her friend Sabrina. I think Chloe's transition from Paris chef to small town cannabis bakery owner was just as compelling a plot point as the mystery she is trying to solve. My only issue with the book was that a few threads that were false leads got wrapped up very quickly at the end of the book all at once, which felt a little rushed. Overall, this was a quick and fun read and I'd be interested in reading more from this series when they come out!

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Chloe Barnes had been living in Paris with her fiancé and working at a Michelin star restaurant, but after a potentially career-ending review and breaking up with her fiancé, she thinks about returning home. She decides to return to Azalea Bay to help her sick grandmother and explore her options. She ponders opening a café, but her Aunt Dawn has a different idea. She suggests that Chloe infuse her baked goods with cannabis and open a cannabis café called Baked by Chloe.

She runs into a past acquaintance who still creeps her out all these years later. Unfortunately, the past acquaintance turns up dead and her Aunt Dawn is the number one suspect. Chloe knows that her aunt isn’t a killer, but someone tries very hard to make sure that Chloe doesn’t find out the truth. Chloe decides to do some sleuthing on her own so that she can clear Dawn’s name, all while experimenting with recipes and doing her best to get ready to open her café.

I really enjoyed this book as it was an easy read and delved into a world (cannabis) that I don’t know much about.

Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for allowing me to read an ARC of this novel. #NetGalley #AHalfBakedMurder

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I hope this is going to be one of many books in this series. I really enjoyed the characters and story lines. I recommend this book.

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Thank you to netgalley for providing an e-galley for review. A Half-Baked Murder follows Chloe after she returns from Paris and her re-organization of her dreams and life. What she thought had all figured out, she didn't. She comes home to Azalea Bay to take care of her grandmother and go into a new business venture with her aunt, am upscale cannabis pastry cafe. While figuring all this out, the person in town that everyone seems to have a grudge against gets murdered. This was fun and hopefully opens more pot positive published books.

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I really loved this first book in a new to my series and author. I can't wait to read the next one. The characters and location really add to the plot. This book keeps you guessing until the end.

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I requested this book from netgalley as i really loved the synopsis of the book! it sounded like a lovely cozy whodunnit however, the plot was so predictable and i found it lacking!

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I really loved the synopsis and premise for A Half-Baked Murder and it sounded like such a cozy story overall with a unique aspect to it. The overall plot seemed predictable and I found myself frustrated with the main character. It was a well written book, just not for me.

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If you enjoy the debate around cannabis, and learning about cannabis. This is a cute who dun it. At times, it seems a bit wordy and explains a little too much around every topic.

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I requested this book from NetGalley because it looked like an intriguing premise for a cozy mystery. There are lots of cozies about bakeries, so adding the twist of a cannabis bakery was interesting. Unfortunately, it just wasn't for me. I found the descriptions of the bakery pedantic, there was a lot of repetition and unnecessary justification for the characters' choices, the mystery was predictable, and I felt like the author worked through a checklist of politically correct things to include the character being accepting about to show that she was a "good person." I will not be continuing with this series.

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Chloe Barnes' perfect Parisian life has gone up in flames. Once an up-and-coming dessert chef, she’s begun to seriously reevaluate her life choices after a series of personal and professional disasters. So when she learns that her beloved grandmother back home in California has been diagnosed with cancer, she finds that ditching Paris in order to fly home and help take care of the woman who raised her is a surprisingly easy decision for her to make.

Grandma Rose is thrilled to have Chloe move back into her childhood bedroom, but it’s her Aunt Dawn who has ideas for the next step in Chloe’s life. Dawn has her eye on a recently available space that would be perfect for the bakery Chloe once spent her childhood daydreaming about opening. Grown-up Chloe knows, however, that the competition for your average bakery is stiff, especially in a small town like Azalea Bay that already has excellent dessert options.

It’s actually Grandma Rose who inspires what happens next. With chemotherapy giving her nausea, she hesitantly asks if Chloe will make her some pot brownies, which are well known for helping calm stomachs and alleviate pain. Chloe would do anything to help her grandmother, and readily agrees despite her own lack of familiarity with the only recently legal substance. As she researches the topic, she begins to realize that infusing cannabis into her baked goods might be exactly what she needs to make her bakery stand out from the crowd.

Before she and Dawn can really get their plans off the ground though, Azalea Bay is rocked by the murder of Brendan Chalmers, a real jerk who’d practically assaulted Chloe just a few hours before he was stabbed to death in a public park. Chloe, fortunately, has an ironclad alibi for the window in which Brendan might have been killed. Dawn, unfortunately, does not.

Upset by the local police force’s focus on her beloved aunt as Brendan’s killer, Chloe decides to take matters into her own hands and sleuth around. As her investigations bring her closer to the truth, they also bring her to the attention of a killer who isn’t thrilled by her persistence, even after numerous warnings for her to back off. Chloe might be careless of her own safety, but will she reconsider her snooping if it threatens to put her family members in danger too?

This is a delightfully written cozy mystery that demystifies a lot about cannabis cuisine. Chloe and her family are absolutely adorable, and I loved the strong Dungeons & Dragons representation. I wasn’t as much a fan of Chloe’s odd mix of being both judgmental and reckless, but imagine she’ll have room to grow as the series continues.

There were four recipes included in this novel. Since I, like Chloe, tend not to use pot recreationally, I decided to try out this cannabis-optional recipe, lightly edited here for space. The recipe for caramel alluded to below is also included earlier on in the book:

Special Salted Caramel Brownies

Use [cannabutter] to give your brownies a higher purpose, or make them with [equal amounts of] regular butter for a simple and sweet family dessert.

Begin with making your caramel. [W]hile your caramel is cooling you can commence making your brownies.

½ cup cannabutter
1 cup white sugar
⅓ cup cocoa powder (if you really want to make these special use Valrhona pure cocoa powder
⅓ cup coarsely chopped high-quality dark chocolate
¼ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
¾ cup all-purpose flour

Take your eggs out prior to baking to let them come to room temperature, about half an hour before you want to start baking.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C and grease your brownie pan, typically 8-by-8 inches.

Chop your chocolate into chunks.

In a double boiler, melt the cannabutter and chocolate over medium heat. When fully melted, remove from heat and stir in sugar and vanilla until fully combined.

Add eggs one at a time, beating until well incorporated.

Sift flour and cocoa together to remove any lumps. Then fold into batter mixture until just combined (don’t overmix.)

Pour batter into pan. Take spoonfuls of caramel and dollop onto batter, pushing them slightly so they sink down. Using a butter knife, cut through caramel to create swirls through the batter.

Drizzle a little extra caramel over the top.

Place into oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, depending on desired consistency.

Allow brownies to cool for at least half an hour before serving.

Given the avowed difference between the taste of cannabutter and regular butter, I’m not sure whether using a one for one substitution really worked here. The brownies I made were fine. My family and I ate them all, and my kids certainly enjoyed them, but I was left wanting more from a purportedly gourmet recipe. I imagine the flavors would balance better with what the book describes as cannabutter’s herbaceous overtone, but as a standard brownie recipe, this was just average. It’s also a pretty gooey recipe, even after letting cool for half an hour. That’s fine for people who prefer their brownies gooey; I just happen to like a drier brownie myself. Let me know if you do try this recipe with cannabutter and what you think of it then.

Next week, we travel to the mid-Atlantic to investigate the suspicious death of a local heiress, while whipping up some tipsy treats. Do join me!

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Didn't need yet another adult woman coming home due to a failed relationship though Chloe has another reason and that reason sets up her new life path.

Enjoyed the story enough to look forward to seeing the bakery in action and finding out how the cannabis bakery factors into new mysteries.

I received my copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

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A Half-Baked Murder is the first book in the Cannabis Cafe mysteries by Emily George. Protagonist Chloe Barnes has recently returned to her hometown of Azalea Bay to take care of her grandmother, who has recently been diagnosed with cancer. After spending five years in Paris as a pastry chef, she is well aware that there is little opportunity in her hometown to utilize her skills. However, after Grandma Rose's doctor recommends the use of cannabis to offset the side-effects of the chemotherapy, Chloe begins baking a variety of cannabis infused items and her Aunt Dawn comes up with a proposal for her to open a cafe that specializes in those types of products. Unfortunately, an former classmate of Chloe's attempts to force his way into her life and the next morning winds up dead in the park across Rose's house and because of threats made by Dawn, she soon becomes the primary suspect in the murder.

This book is a unique take on the typical restaurant/bakery cozy mystery setting and the author has created a diverse cast of characters that enrich the entire story. Within the various plot twists and red herrings, the author also gives significant insight into the utilization of alternative products for health purposes. As with most first in series books, the author was faced with the challenge of providing enough background and history to capture the reader's attention and leave them wanting to follow the characters through future installments. In this case, the challenge was met very quickly giving ample opportunity to flesh out the entire story through the remainder of the book which ultimately led to a surprising revelation of motive and killer. I look forward to seeing where the author takes this series and its characters in future installments.

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and Kensington Publishing and am leaving this review voluntarily.

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So mixed feelings on this book. I loved the concept and the first half of this book, but there isn't as much sleuthing or solving so the second half of the book felt passively happening to the main character. I also was disappointed that the bakery took the whole book to open - Chloe spends a lot of the book dithering on even opening which considering the cover, subtitle, and back summary we already know she does so I a little bored. She also spends a lot of time on why she shouldn't be sleuthing, which again we know she will.
The characters (Chloe as well as her grandmother, aunt, friends, and neighbors) all felt well developed and I think there is potential for this series to grow. I like the updated take on many of the classic cozy mystery structures and assumptions, but I need more sleuthing and less internal monologuing to really sell me on this.

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Loved this book! Could hardly put it down. So unique and I love the family aspect. Can't wait for more!

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A Half-Baked Murder is the debut of A Cannabis Café Mysteries. It is the first cozy mystery to have a cannabis theme. Chloe Barnes is a trained pastry chef who has dreamed of working in a Michelin star restaurant. When Chloe’s Aunt Dawn suggests she open a cannabis café, Chloe has trouble giving up her dream. Chloe is in her late twenties. I expected her to be more mature after her years in Paris. Chloe’s love for her Grandma Rose is evident. Grandma Rose is a sweet woman with a great group of friends. Aunt Dawn is a quirky, fun woman with a hippie vibe. I enjoyed the descriptions of Azalea Bay. It sounds like a charming town. We get to learn about cannabis. It helps people with their pain, their nausea, anxiety, and sleep. There are different types sold in dispensaries along with a variety of edibles. A recipe for cannabis butter is included (used for baking). The whodunit was straightforward. An unlikeable man is killed, a relative of the protagonist is the main suspect, misdirection, an amateur sleuth, a chief of police and a detective who repeatedly tell the protagonist to quit investigating. Chloe has all the subtlety of a bulldozer. She does pick up some helpful information along the way. Chloe receives a couple of warnings from the killer (not that they stop her). The reveal explains the who, how, and why. I found A Half-Baked Murder to be an okay story. I could not get into the book. It is written in the first person which allows readers to be privy to all of Chloe’s rambling thoughts. There is repetition of key details. I felt there was too much romance especially for someone who just had a bad breakup. There are a couple of cute furbabies in the story. I thought Antonio was a cutie. A Half-Baked Murder is a carefree cozy with a slain slimeball, a discerning detective, an inkling for a cannabis café, baked brownies, and a prying pastry chef.

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This book is fun read but I do not see it as a book club read. I did enjoy the characters and plot of the book. I will admit that I got a bit confused for a minute while reading about the cooking: I kept getting the words "pot" and "cannabis" mixed up! The word "pot" should maybe be "pan" or something else. Overall, it was a fun book to read!

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A Half-Baked Murder marks the start of a cozy series with a newish twist; it features a character who owns a bakery dedicated to cannabis treats. Pastry chef, Chloe Barnes returns to Azalea Bay, California, helps her grandmother feel better, and grows a thriving business. There is a quaint small town, an appealing amateur sleuth, lots of yummy-sounding food, and a great mystery. Very highly recommended.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel at my request from Kensington Books via NetGalley. This review is my own unbiased opinion.

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