I finished chapter one of this book and wanted to bake . . . normally, I wouldn’t use that quality to rate a book more highly, but in this case, it’s entirely appropriate. Kilpack’s mystery about the murder of a suburban single mother combines the domesticity of home life with the standards of the mystery genre to make an interesting, thoughtful and very engrossing novel.

The basic plot involves a murder, a detective Ms. Sadie Hoffmiller (baker and apple sauce maker), and suspicions about all the men in her life. When her neighbor Anne is murdered in the backyard and Anne’s son Trevor goes missing, Sadie takes it on herself to “assist” the police with the investigation. She breaks into houses, hides under beds, and steals evidence, all for the sake of helping. It’s great reading.

Sadie is a very likable woman – flawed by well-intentioned – so I could get behind her, even as I winced when she did something particularly reckless. I also enjoyed the detectives in the book – Cunningham with his wry good looks and compassionate nature and Madsen, who I just wanted to see punched in the face for his arrogance. The other supporting characters – like Sadie’s daughter Breanna – are fun, too, and they help flesh out what could have become a very domestic, small, claustrophobic setting.

Interspersed with the stories are recipes, like, for instance, one for Lemon Tart. I didn’t really pay much attention to them, but Kilpack does succeed in keeping them from being annoying by only dropping one in every few chapters. I didn’t find the recipes added much, but since they didn’t distract me, I didn’t mind.

All in all, Lemon Tart is fun, and it kept me reading, mostly because I just liked Sadie so much. If you’re a fan of mysteries or women’s fiction, this book is for you.

Cover of Lemon Tart by Josi S. KilpackLemon Tart by Josi S. Kilpack

If you’d like to win my autographed copy of the book, post a comment here and/or spread the word (let me know where you share the giveaway). I’ll pick a winner on Wednesday.