Book review: 'Tres Leches Cupcakes' is a culinary thriller that tastes good too

By Mike Whitmer

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Sept. 29 2012 2:00 p.m. MDT

"TRES LECHES CUPCAKES," by Josi S. Kilpack, Shadow Mountain, $18.99, 368 pages (f)

Josi S. Kilpack’s culinary thrillers are unique. After all, how often are readers greeted with tempting recipes at the end of chapters when they dive into a murder mystery?

“Tres Leches Cupcakes” is the eighth installment in Kilpack’s series of culinary capers.

Sadie Hoffmiller — a precocious woman pushing 60 years of age — has gone undercover as an informant for the Bureau of Land Management in Santa Fe, N.M. Her assignment is to work with an archaeological preservation group uncovering ancient artifacts from a newly discovered Native American burial ground. But when her work unearths a recent addition to the site — a freshly buried body — Sadie’s investigation takes a turn she never imagined.

With the help of her good friend Caro, as well as support from her detective boyfriend Pete, Sadie plunges into the world of black market relic trading. But the assignment soon turns deadly and after her work friend leaves a cryptic phone message and then disappears, Sadie decides she can’t keep her fingers out of the action.

With tasty food recipes in tow, Sadie is determined to get to the bottom of the escalating mayhem that seems to surround her at every turn. As the threats begin to turn toward her, Sadie is unsure if she will come out of the whole experience alive.

The expanding genre of cozy mysteries is a perfect fit for Kilpack. Her stories are flavored neighborhood drama reminiscent of “Murder She Wrote” tales. The inclusion of recipes for what seem likely to be delicious dishes adds another layer to her works.

However, while this story is entertaining, it is not high drama. There is a lot of fluff to sift through in the form of overdone descriptions information. That said, the story is still fun. Imagining a nearly 60-year-old retired schoolteacher in the middle of a murder investigation is engaging and diverting. Sadie’s character is definitely distinctive, and her antics and persona are genuinely endearing.

"Tres Leches Cupcakes" is unique among her books as Shadow Mountain had a recipe contest to determine the title of the book.

Kilpack is a capable writer whose works have grown and taken on a life of their own. “Tres Leches Cupcakes” is an amusing and captivating addition to her creative compilations. Kilpack lives with her family in Willard, Box Elder County.

If you go ...

What: Josi S. Kilpack book signings

When: Thursday, Oct. 11, 5 p.m.

Where: Garland Library, 86 W. Factory St., Garland

Web: www.garlandlibrary.org, www.josiskilpack.com/events

Also ...

When: Saturday, Oct. 13, 1:30-3 p.m.

Where: Deseret Book, 1309 N. Main St. Suite 150, Logan

Web: www.deseretbook.com, www.josiskilpack.com/events

Also ...

What: "Foodie Fiction" presentation

When: Tuesday, Oct. 16, 7-8:30 p.m.

Where: Brigham City Library, 26 E. Forest St., Brigham City

Web: bcpl.lib.ut.us/bookfestival.html, www.josiskilpack.com/events

Mike Whitmer lives in West Valley City and loves to eat food from good recipes. His wife makes the greatest food on the earth. His email is grundelwalken@gmail.com or he blogs at mtwhitmer.blogspot.com.

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