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Murder… with a slice of cake.
What is the Fresh-Baked Mystery series about?
From Texas-born writer Livia J. Washburn, The Fresh Baked mystery series is a cozy mystery series with a touch of sugar.
Set in a small town in Texas, this series follows retired schoolteacher Phyllis Newsom who loves to bake and even win prizes with her cakes. But she also likes to do some amateur sleuthing, especially when people are killed in her city (after eating some of her pastries or not).
How to read the Fresh-Baked Mystery Books in Order?
Every book in the Fresh-Baked Mystery series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- A Peach of a Murder – All year round, retired schoolteacher Phyllis Newsom is as sweet as peach pie-except during the Peach Festival, whose blue ribbon has slipped through Phyllis’s fingers more than once… Everyone’s a little shook up when the corpse of a no-good local turns up underneath a car in a local garage. But even as Phyllis engages in some amateur sleuthing, she won’t let it distract her from out-baking her rivals and winning the upcoming Peach Festival contest.
- Murder by the Slice – At this year’s school carnival fund-raiser, the obnoxious president of the Parent Teacher Organization is found stabbed through the heart with Phyllis Newsom’s own knife, with traces of incriminating frosting. Clearing her name will be no piece of cake…
- The Christmas Cookie Killer – Yuletide is here?and Phyllis Newsom looks forward to finishing up this unlucky year. But she won’t be hanging up her apron just yet, because this year’s Christmas bake-off is going to be cutthroat. Then, during her annual Christmas cookie exchange, Phyllis heads over to the elderly Mrs. Simmons’s home and finds her dead, in a pile of lime sugar cookies.
- Killer Crab Cakes – Phyllis Newsom is playing house sitter to a quaint bed-and-breakfast on the Texas Gulf Coast, near the annual Just Desserts competition. But Phyllis and her boyfriend Sam soon discover that in this bake-off, you can get knocked off…
- The Pumpkin Muffin Murder – It’s Thanksgiving in Weatherford, Texas, and Phyllis is taking her grandson, Bobby, to the first annual Harvest Festival with hopes of winning the baking contest now that her friendly competitor, Carolyn, is judging and not competing. But when a decorative scarecrow turns out to be a dead body in disguise, Phyllis must dish out some justice…
- The Gingerbread Bump-Off – Not only will Phyllis Newsom’s house be featured in the annual Christmas Jingle Bell Tour of Homes, she also has a Christmas Eve bridal shower and a New Year’s Eve wedding to bake goodies for. But like her tasty treats, she rises to the occasion. Before the tour gets under way, Phyllis makes a gruesome discovery on her porch: someone has tried to kill her friend.
- Wedding Cake Killer – Eve Turner, one of Phyllis’s boarders—and her best friend—is moving out and getting married to Roy Porter. While she’s sad to see Eve go, Phyllis is more than happy to host the event in her home. But the marriage doesn’t last long past the honeymoon. When Roy’s found dead, Eve’s the top suspect. Now Phyllis must find out who iced Roy before her friend finds herself behind bars…
- The Fatal Funnel Cake – Phyllis and her friends Carolyn and Sam are excited to learn that one of their favorite celebrity chefs—Joye Jameson of The Joye of Cooking—is broadcasting her TV show from the local fair. When Phyllis’s cake is picked as one of the best, Joye invites her and the other finalists to prepare their delicious recipes live on the air. But Phyllis’s moment in the spotlight is spoiled after Joye suffers a deadly allergic reaction from one bite of her funnel cake. Now she’s gone from top entry to top suspect.
- Trick or Deadly Treat – While Phyllis and her friend Carolyn are preparing for a baking contest, her housemate Sam adopts Buck, an Dalmatian who was hit by a car. To thank local veterinarian Hank Baxter for helping the dog, Phyllis and Carolyn bake a batch of doggie treats for his other four-legged patients. But when they arrive at the clinic, the vet is in the process of being arrested—for the murder of his wife! Convinced that the police are barking up the wrong tree, Sam begs Phyllis to help find the real killer.
- The Candy Cane Cupcake Killer – ‘Tis the season in Weatherford, Texas, and everyone in town is gearing up for the annual holiday parade and tree-lighting ceremony in the town square, where Phyllis Newsom will be serving her much-anticipated candy cane cupcakes. Local rancher Barney McCrory manages to charm one away from her before the ceremony begins. But unfortunately, when the minty confection is finished, so is he. This isn’t the first time someone has dropped dead after eating one of Phyllis’s treats. But the paramedics determine the rancher was shot…
- Black and Blueberry Die – Danny Jackson, found guilty of beating his wife Roxanne to death at the ritzy hair salon where she works, was sentenced to prison for 30 years. His pleas of innocence fell on deaf ears, so it’s up to Phyllis to find what actually happened. She finds there are a lot of secrets and lies being told, and Roxanne was in the middle of them all.
- The Great Chili Kill-Off – Phyllis, Sam, Carolyn, and Eve head for West Texas to compete in a Fourth of July chili cookoff. Thousands of people have descended on a sleepy little ghost town. Raucous excitement fills the air, but so does chili when a sabotaged propane cooker explodes, killing the much-hated current champion. With Sam a possible suspect in the murder, emotions run hot as a bowl of Texas red as Phyllis has to untangle these threads in order to put her finger on the killer!
- Baker’s Deadly Dozen – Phyllis Newsom and Sam Fletcher come out of retirement to take substitute teacher jobs as a favor for some friends, but they soon realize that the more things change, the more they stay the same. That means getting up early, dealing with students and other teachers, and helping out with extracurricular activities. The problem is, for Phyllis, stumbling over dead bodies is an extracurricular activity!
- Death Bakes a Pecan Pie – Hollywood comes to Weatherford, Texas, as a movie company arrives to shoot scenes for a film based on the novel by Phyllis Newsom’s friend Eve. But movie fantasy turns to deadly reality as a murder recreated for film turns out to be the genuine article, and once more Phyllis has to track down a cunning killer to see that justice is done.
- Never Trifle with Murder – It’s early summer in Weatherford, Texas, and retired teacher/amateur sleuth Phyllis Newsom and fellow retiree Carolyn Wilbarger are taking British cooking classes at the local senior center. The third and final class features desserts, and more than the stove heats up when the trifle is poisoned! Once again Phyllis finds herself involved in a murder case filled with hidden motives and colorful characters. Includes a bonus short story, “The Coconut Bunny Butt Caper.
What to read after the Fresh-Baked Mystery series?
For more cozy mystery series with a touch of sugar, check out the Cupcake Bakery Mystery series by Jenn McKinlay about two best friends making exquisite desserts and tracking down cunning murderers. You can also read the Hannah Swensen Mysteries series by Joanna Fluke, featuring a baker who lives in a small Minnesota town and solves crime.