When Phyllis Newsom agrees to oversee her cousin's bed and breakfast for a couple of weeks due to a family emergency, she decides to use the opportunity as a getaway and to enter the local Just Desserts competition in nearby Rockport, Texas.
Accompanied by several friends, including her boyfriend, Sam, and Carolyn, her chief rival in local cooking competitions, Phyllis enjoys her time near the Gulf Coast. That is, until the death of one of the guests turns into murder.
She tries to stay out of the way of the investigation figuring she has had enough murder investigations in her own hometown to last her for quite some time. She also wants to spend more time with Sam, although he is all too eager to support her whether she commits to the investigation or not.
However, two situations occur that change her mind. First, someone who Phyllis likes and trusts is arrested for the murder, and then a second guest is killed. Phyllis decides to jump into the investigation in spite of the opposition from the local Chief of Police and his daughter, who is also on the police force.
After all, the bed and breakfast is her cousin's livelihood. If anyone else is killed or they find out the murder is connected to the bed and breakfast, her cousin could lose her business.
As Phyllis becomes more involved in trying to solve the murders, she finds plenty of shady business dealings and objectionable characters to last her awhile.
Killer Crab Cakes by Livia J. Washburn is an interesting cozy mystery set in southeast Texas. Washburn follows the genre formula with ease, including mixing murder and mayhem with subtle humor. She also makes good use of the ambiance of the location along the Coastal Bend. The reader senses the sounds and sights of the Gulf Coast, and can almost hear the cry of the seagulls and see the sailboats aligned in the harbor.
Washburn manages to keep the killer a secret until near the end, although looking back one can see an occasional clue or two.
As with most cozy's that have a food-related theme, there are a good number of recipes gathered together at the back of the book.
This is the fourth Fresh-Baked Murder mystery, and it is a good one. Previous investigations are alluded to, and readers who read this book first may want to go back to the beginning to better understand the relationships. Otherwise, Killer Crab Cakes is entertaining and worth the read.