My Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Age Category: Adult
Type of romance: MF
For fans of Sofie Kelly and Joanne Fluke, it’s the end of the tourist season in Split Pine– but a murder at the Lucky Pie Diner stirs up trouble for the sleepy town in this series debut.
Este March runs the family-owned Lucky Pie Diner on Split Pine Island in Northern Michigan. The pies at Lucky Pie aren’t just good, they’re magical, with a family recipe that grants certain customers their greatest hopes and dreams when they eat the pie. The remote island is closed to outsiders over the winter months, but on the last day of the season, the unpopular new produce vendor, Jeff, turns up dead on his boat, and Split Pine Island’s peace goes up in smoke.
Tom Cunningham, the local sheriff, casts suspicion onto Este, who may have been the last person to see Jeff alive. Not to mention several people witnessed her getting into an argument with the rude vendor in some of his final hours. Este decides to clear her name and her diner’s reputation by launching her own investigation, which means she must turn suspicion on her friends and neighbors, because only a local could have murdered the victim.
As Este investigates, she uncovers a deeper web of secrets, finding that many of the locals had reason to either frame her, or kill the victim. The clock is ticking to figure out the killer, and the clues in the case are flakier than an apple pie. Este will have to uncover the killer before her future crumbles.
I received a free copy from the publisher through Netgalley and voluntarily reviewed it.
I liked the first two books in Gretchen Rue’s other cozy mystery series, so I was excited when I heard about this new series and didn’t hesitate to request it when I saw it on Netgalley. A Pie to Die For is an awesome start to this new series, it’s set on an island in Michigan and the main character runs a diner for which she bakes the pies, both sweet and savory. There is a hint of magic, but it’s really only a little touch and reads like a cozy mystery instead of a paranormal cozy mystery.
My favorite parts of this book were probably reading about Este, all the baking she did, her daily life, how she gets a kitten and gets involved in the mystery. As well as reading about the island setting. There was just something so cozy and comforting about this book and it really embodied that cozy vibe. I already look forward to returning to the island.
The mystery was a solid one too, it kept me guessing and I felt like there were enough clues to point to something bigger, but it wasn’t obvious what had happened. Este is quite focused on one suspect and I wished she would broaden her suspicious, but at the same time I could see why she suspected this person. I liked seeing how it all played and I liked how Este stayed involved and how her personality was in such a way that it made sense why she couldn’t let it go. I liked that as it gives her a very internal reason to get involved, as well as the external reasons of how she is questioned and is afraid she might be a suspect. The wrap up was done well, although I usually prefer it if the main character actually solved the crime instead of the villain revealing it.
Besides the mystery there was plenty of Este’s daily life on the island. I really liked getting to know Este and reading about her life, from the pie baking, to her interacting with friends and family and to how she ran the diner. The island setting worked really well and gave the mystery a bit of a locked room vibe, while at the same time being a very cosy and unique setting for a cozy mystery. There is a hint of romance as well. And a cute kitten that joins Este in her house.
To summarize: This was an awesome start to this new series. I liked reading about Este and her daily life, it was so fun to read about her pie making skills and the other food she makes as well as how she runs the diner and seeing her interact with friends and family. The island made for a fun and cosy setting. The mystery was a solid one and there were enough clues and hints to keep me invested without the culprit being clear. Este had a clear reason for getting involved and I liked her determination to solve the mystery. I liked the reveal and it made sense when everything came together, although I wished Este had figured it out instead of the villain revealing things. All in all I really enjoyed this book, it felt very cosy and comforting and I already look forward to returning to the island and reading more about Este.