Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Murder Takes the Cake - a delicious mystery by Gayle Trent

Today, in my second post this month about mystery writer, Gayle Trent, you will be able to find out more about her latest book Murder Takes the Cake and read an extract from it.

Murder Takes The Cake tells the story of Daphne Martin, a forty-year-old divorcee who returns to her fictional hometown of Brea Ridge, Virginia to start her life over. She has left behind an ex-husband who is in prison for an attempt on Daphne's life, a dingy apartment and a stale career. She has started fresh in a new home with a new career, Daphne's Delectable Cakes, a cake-decorating company Daphne runs out of her home. She is thrilled to be living closer to her beloved niece and nephew, although being close to other family members brings up lifelong resentments and more than a couple of complications. Daphne is also reunited with childhood friend, Ben Jacobs, a full-fledged HAG (hot, available guy). Then Daphne finds her first client dead.

Here are some reviews of the book.

“This heartwarming and intriguing story will leave the reader hungering for the next two installments in the series. The small southern town charm, combined with the mystery, and the descriptions of food, make this a book to read with a slice of cake on the side.” Suzanne Pitner, Suite101

This is an entertaining amateur sleuth culinary cozy starring an obstinate baker who needs to know the truth about her mom, her sister, others and the murder. The breezy story line is fun to follow, although fans will pick out the killer early on. Even with several cooking sleuths like Diane Mott Davidson “Goldy”, Daphne is a solid lead character as she follows the murder recipe one step at a time to the delight of sub-genre readers.” Harriet Klausner, The Mystery Gazette

"Trent has written an absolutely captivating cozy, complete with all the traditional elements of the genre. ...I hadn't even read past page 7 and I had absolutely laughed out loud numerous times. The dialogue in this book is filled with snappy wit.” Pudgy Penguin Perusals Blog

"I absolutely was startled to find out whodunnit at the end and it was not one of those lame-o choices so the author could hurry and finish up. I could identify with Daphne's relationship with her family. I think this was the part I liked best. Daphne has a cautious and teeth gritting relationship with her mother, a loving warm one with her father and her sister.
And the cake baking and decorating!!! I didn't get the recipes in the copy I reviewed, so will get the book just for those. This is one of my criteria for a cozy, it makes me want to learn how to do the activity that's the basis of the character and story......This one makes me want to learn how to decorate cakes. Four frosted beans!"

Excerpt from Murder Takes the Cake

Chapter One

“Mrs. Watson?” I called, banging on the door again.

I glanced up at the ever-blackening clouds. Although I had Mrs. Watson’s cake in a box, it would be my luck to get caught in a downpour with it. This was my third attempt to please her, and I couldn’t afford another mistake on the amount she was paying me. Whoever said “the customer is always right” had obviously never dealt with Yodel Watson.

I heard something from inside the house and pressed my ear against the door. A vision of my falling into the living room and dropping the cake when Mrs. Watson flung open the door made me rethink that decision.

“Mrs. Watson?” I called again.

“Come in! It’s open! Come in!”

I tried the knob and the door was indeed unlocked. I stepped inside but couldn’t see Mrs. Watson. “It’s me—Daphne Martin. I’m here with your cake.”

“Come in! It’s open!”

“I am in, Mrs. Watson. Where are you?”

“It’s open!”

“I know! I—” Gritting my teeth, I walked through the living room and placed the cake on the kitchen table. A quick glance around the kitchen told me Mrs. Watson wasn’t in there either.

“It’s open!”

Man, could this lady get on your nerves. I decided to follow the voice. It came from my left, so I eased down the hallway.

“Mrs. Watson?”

On my right, there was a den. I poked my head inside.

“Come in!”

I turned toward the voice. A gray parrot was sitting on its perch inside its cage.

“It’s open!” the bird squawked.

“I noticed.” Great. She’s probably not home, and I’ll get arrested for breaking and entering…though technically, I didn’t break….

It was then I saw Mrs. Watson lying on the sofa in a faded navy robe. There was a plaid blanket over her legs. She appeared to be sleeping, but I’d heard the parrot calling when I was outside. No way could Mrs. Watson be in the same room and sleep through that racket.

I stepped closer. “Are you okay?” Her pallor told me she was not okay. Then the foul odor hit me.

I backed away and took my cell phone out of my purse. “I’m calling 9-1-1, Mrs. Watson. Everything’s gonna be all right.” I don’t know if I was trying to reassure her or myself.

Everything’s gonna be all right. I’d been telling myself that for the past month.

I lingered in the doorway in case Mrs. Watson would wake up and need something before the EMTs arrived.

I turned forty this year. Forty seems to be a sobering age for every woman, but it hit me especially hard. When most women get to be my age, they at least have some bragging rights: successful career, happy marriage, beautiful children, nice home. I had none of the above. My so-called bragging rights included a failed marriage, a dingy apartment, and twenty years’ service in a dead-end job. Cue violins.

When my sister Violet called and told me about a “charming little house” for sale near her neighborhood, I jumped at the chance to leave all the dead ends of middle Tennessee and come home to southwest Virginia. Surely, something better awaited me here.

So far, I’d moved into my house—which I recently learned came with a one-eyed stray cat—and started a cake decorating business. A great deal of my time had involved coming up with a name, a logo, getting business cards made up, setting up a Web site and other “fun” administrative duties. The cake and cupcakes I’d made for my niece and nephew to take to school on Halloween had been a hit, though, and had led to some nice word-of-mouth advertising and a couple orders. Leslie’s puppy dog cake and Lucas’ black cat cupcakes were the first additions to my website’s gallery.

Sadly, my first customer had been Yodel Watson. She’d considered herself a world-class baker in her hey-day but no longer had the time or desire to engage in “such foolishness.”

“I want you to make me a cake for my Thanksgiving dinner,” she’d said. “Nothing too gaudy. I want my family to think I made it myself.”

My first two attempts had been refused: the first cake was too fancy; the second was too plain. I’d been hoping—praying—third time would be the charm. Now the laboriously prepared spice cake with cream cheese frosting decorated with orange and red satin ribbons for a bottom border and a red apple arranged in a flower petal pattern on top was on Mrs. Watson’s kitchen table. Mrs. Watson herself was lying on her den sofa as deflated as a December jack-o-lantern. Oh, yeah, things were looking up.

I was startled out of my reverie by a sharp rap.


“Come in! It’s open!” the bird called.

I hurried to the living room to open the door, and two men with a stretcher brushed past me.

“Where’s the patient?” one asked.

“Back here.” I led the way to the den, and then got out of the way.

“Come in!”

I moved next to the bird cage. “Don’t you ever shut up? This is serious.”

“I’ll say,” agreed one of the EMTs. “Are you the next of kin?”

“Excuse me?” My hand flew to my throat. “She’s dead?”

“Yes, ma’am. Are you related to her?”

While the one EMT was questioning me, the other was on the radio asking dispatch to send the police and the coroner.

“I don’t know anything,” I said.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The book is available here:

And you can see a trailer for the book here:

Fatal Foodies website

If you have any questions for Gayle about her writing, her book or even cake decorating, Gayle will be more than pleased to answer them. Please leave a comment.


  1. I'm already hooked. Murder Takes the Cake has now been added to my must read list.

    Best wishes,

  2. I love the title, and the excerpt made me want more. More cake, please.

  3. Sounds like a delicious mystery! I love the cover.

  4. Thank you all so much! I just heard last night that Murder Takes the Cake is being published in large-print format by Thorndike for the library market. Thanks again for your encouragement!! :-)

  5. Delicious! Excellent cover that attracts readers instantly, and as far as I can judge from the excerpt, it is gripping. If you need a review, I am here!

  6. Helena, excellent post, I greatly enjoyed it!

  7. Thank you, Liana, and everyone for dropping by and congratulations, Gayle!


  8. Murder takes the Cake is not only and awesome catchy title, the book sounds VERY interesting!

    The Old Silly from Free Spirit Blog

  9. Good luck with this yummy book. I love mysteries.