Book Review: Bell, Cook and Candle by Joanne Pence

Bell, Cook, and Candle
An Angie Amalfi Mystery
By Joanne Pence

You may recall that I posted a book review recently about another Angie Almafi Mystery and gave it 1 star. It was horrible. During our latest library used book sale, Daphne filled a bag with cozy mysteries for me, as she knows I enjoy them. One of them was Bell, Cook, and Candle. She had bought these books for me prior to my reading Pence’s first novel in the series. I thought that I should read this one, because maybe the first book was not the author’s best. As with we anything we do, we improve with practice and experience. So maybe this book would be a great one.

This time we meet Angie and her friend Connie delivering a cake Angie has made to a party. She did train at the Cordon Bleu in France and has decided to put her cooking skills to work. She is now baking cakes and has started a business which she has named Comical Cakes. She bakes cakes in the shape of teeth for a dentist, a bowling ball for a tournament, a huge police badge for a retirement party, etc. She delivers some of her cakes to the seedier areas of San Francisco. In her travels she meets a creepy old man with straight white hair who spouts unusual prophecies about the devil and killing demons. It appears he has a long psychiatric history, but she doesn’t know that. He succeeds in scaring her.

In the meantime, Detective Paavo Smith, her love interest, is chasing down missing young women who all seem to have been attendees at a Goth night club, called Club Macabre. Baron Severus is the dark owner of this club and seems to draw these young women to his side in droves. What is his power that causes such devotion? And why have four of the women who frequent his club been found murdered, nude, abandoned, and surrounded with white candles? Each corpse is missing something vital – her heart.

During all this excitement, Paavo sets up expensive, romantic dinners with Angie as he wants to discuss something important with her. He never gets around to it as Angie is either on the phone taking an order for a Comical Cake during the meal or is just too tired after spending all day baking. If I were Paavo, I would realize she is a self-centered flake, and dump her on the streets of San Francisco, no matter how pretty she is and how much money she has. He may be a smart detective, but he is a dork in matters of the heart. Go figure.

I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars because the murder plot and the strange characters made the book interesting. Other than that, Angie is still vapid and clueless. She takes advantage of people. Her sisters are in the book as Angie goes to them for advice. They are just as nutty as she is. I can’t read another book with Angie and her kooky family in it, in addition to the fact, that Angie and Paavo just can’t get it together. We hear about it ad infinitum throughout the book. I’ll be saying sayonara to this series. There are plenty of other great cozy mysteries out there to enjoy, and enjoy them I will.

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