25 May 2008

TRICK OR TREAT, Kerry Greenwood

2007, Allen & Unwin, 288 pages

Corinna Chapman is making ends meet very well with her bakery Earthly Delights just off Flinders Lane in metropolitan Melbourne. She has built up a regular clientele of colourful locals, as well as becoming the supplier to a number of restaurants.
That is, until a franchised hot bread shop opens up at the other end of the lane, and sales begin to flag.

And that's not the only problem. The love of her life Daniel seems to be making excuses and to have other things on his mind. And then morning after morning Calico Alley, at the back entrance to her bakery, has more than its fair share of drug overdose cases, until finally someone leaps from the roof of a building into the alley. The investigation that follows threatens Corinna's very livelihood.

To make it worse, although Corinna has a secret admirer sending her flowers and cards, at least one other person wants her out of the bakery - to the point even of nailing a grisly trophy to the front door of the apartment building that houses the bakery.

Kerry Greenwood has a delightful turn of phrase that constantly brings a touch of humour to the pages. TRICK OR TREAT is full of interesting characters - from elderly Greek Jews who remember their war-time flight from the Germans as if it were yesterday; to Meroe the local witch who wants special soul cakes for Halloween; to those who conduct the nightly Soup Run through the streets of Melbourne and collect the bakery's surpluses. Even the animals come over as real characters: Heckle and Jekyll, the bakery's Mouse Police; Horatio the lordly feline whose fiefdom is Corinna's apartment; Nox the black kitten who rules a neighbour, the Professor, with an iron paw; to the death-defying Lucifer whose clawed ginger paws love koi fish.

This #4 in Kerry Greenwood's Earthly series and each one is more like a comfort read, like the comfort food Corinna cooks in her bakery. But make no mistake, there is underlying social comment here too: on the exploitation of the elderly and the gullible, bakery chains who would rather sell their surplus to a piggery than donate to charity, and the importance of resolution for those who were the victims of war crimes even when the war is 70 years in the past. And for those who like cooking, there are real recipes for some of Corinna's treats in the final pages.

Kerry Greenwood is an accomplished and popular Australian author, probably better known for her Phryne Fisher series. To be honest though, I find Corinna Chapman less grating that the Hon. Phryne.

Websites to check

The Cairns Post, among other reviewers, labelled this "chick-lit", but unlike much of this crime fiction sub-genre, this is chick-lit the oldies will enjoy too.

My rating: 4.3


Bernadette said...

Thanks for this review Kerrie, might check out the first in this series (I like to start at the beginning if possible). I read a couple of the Phryne Fisher books and didn't like the character much so I have never bothered with any of Greenwood's other stuff bu I'll try this series instead as I like to support Aussie authors.

Marg said...

I am currently working my way through the Phryne Fisher books. Once I finish those I am intending to read this series, but it will be a while before I get to them!

Kerrie said...

I think you'll enjoy them Bernadette and Marg. Thanks for dropping by


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