Cannabis Confections.

Book Review for “A Half-Baked Murder” by Emily George.

Summary: Formally trained pastry chef Chloe Barnes is opening a cannabis bakery. That’s not at all what the twenty-eight-year-old envisioned while living the dream in Paris with a hot fiancé and a Michelin star restaurant gig around the corner. But the rising “it girl” of choux puffs rethinks everything after a scathing food review and humiliating breakup make her long for home in sunny California. When her beloved grandmother falls ill, Chloe returns to quaint Azalea Bay to start over in the most satisfying way possible—concocting delicious edibles with her quirky Aunt Dawn. Combining French luxury and THC, Baked by Chloe will take pot brownies to another level. That is, until a creepy past acquaintance rehashes old drama and shockingly turns up dead—landing Aunt Dawn as the number one murder suspect. Now, alongside her closest confidants, a stunned Chloe must alternate between budding entrepreneur and amateur sleuth to clear her aunt’s name, open the best bakery in town, and weed out the real culprit from a list of unsettling suspects!”

Age: Adult; Genres: Fiction, Cozy Mystery; Settings: Era/s: Contemporary; Location/s: USA – California – fictional seaside town Azalea Bay; Other Categories: Novel, Culinary, Women, Amateur Sleuth, Series (Cannabis Café #1), Crime.

A Half-Baked Murder

My regular readers know that I don’t often go in for series, but a good mystery – particularly a cozy one – can become the exception to that rule. When I do, I usually prefer historical ones, but that’s not a rule set in stone. While browsing the Edelweiss shelves, I came upon this book, which on the surface, shouldn’t have been my thing. Not only is it contemporary, but it is also the first book in a mystery series. (Okay, I didn’t actually notice that second bit until after I looked more closely at the cover, and by then I already gotten approval and sent it to my Kindle.) What actually drew me to this book is that aside from it being a cozy, murder mystery, it is also culinary fiction, and I’m just a sucker for that sub-genre! I truly believe there aren’t nearly enough culinary fiction books out there, so I’m likely to grab any that come along (as long as they aren’t fantasy or horror or erotica, that is). The fact that the title has only an inkling of a pun in it, was also appreciated (some of the ones authors are coming up with these days are totally embarrassingly groan-worthy). Finally, the clichéd, hot-pink background and cartoonish cover art were not as off-putting as some I’ve seen.

All that out of the way, I have to say that this book ended up being exactly what I was expecting. The writing is very accessible, without any flowery poetic interludes, making it as easy to read as it is to hold a conversation with a friend. The plot of Chloe coming home to care for her cancer-patient grandmother, stumbling onto a murder, all while contemplating the next chapter in her career, gives us just enough opportunities for both conflict and tension, and allowing us to expect some good twists and rabbit holes. George took full advantage of these clever ideas to mash up a book that turned into a real page turner for me!

I should mention that people might wonder (going by the cover design alone) if there’s any romance in this book, and I have to answer that yes, there is a tiny bit of that, which I’m sure will continue to develop in the subsequent books. But for now, it was very nicely understated and while we know who the romantic interest will be, I’m happy to say that Chloe is far more invested in all the other things in her life – grandmother’s health, welfare of her aunt, and her career – than she is in the hunky guy who moved in next door to her grandmother’s house. I was also glad that he didn’t do a whole lot of joining in on the sleuthing, since this really is Chloe’s story, and a female in charge, while having a male sidekick is a real plus, as far as I’m concerned. However, I must say that found Chloe to be a bit enigmatic in this book. She seems to vacillate between being a strong, independent, and focused person, with heavy doses of self-doubt, dwelling on the pain her ex caused her, and what seems like a fairly small blip in her career. This didn’t make her into as good a sleuth as she could have been. I’m guessing that George will focus more on the positives in the next books, and that should allow her to round out and balance the pastry chef and the amateur sleuthing more effectively.

I’m also guessing that this being a start of a new series that George will further develop both the grandmother and the aunt, and maybe rope either or both of them into the next crime that crops up in this quiet town. By the way, I’m getting a real “Cabot Cove” (where Murder, She Wrote is located) vibe from this sleepy town, which also reminds me that the fictional British county of Midsomer was also very peaceful, until the murders began! A bit of a cliché but mostly forgivable. For all of this, I think I’ll recommend this book with four out of five stars, and to someone looking for a new cozy mystery series, and who also enjoys a bit of culinary fiction (by the way, there are recipes – cannabis ones – included at the end of this novel, in case you were wondering).


30483411-0-Edelweiss-Reviewer-BKensington Cozies released “A Half-Baked Murder” by Emily George on February 21, 2023 (although some sites say it will only be released on the 28th). This book is available (via the following affiliate links) from Amazon, Blackwell‘s, Foyles, The Book Depository UK and Book Depository US (both with free worldwide delivery), Waterstones, WHSmith, Wordery UK and Wordery US, Kobo US (eBooks and audiobooks), the website,, iTunes (iBooks and audiobooks), new or used from Alibris, used from Better World Books (promoting libraries and world literary), as well as from as well as from and UK.Bookshop (to support independent bookshops, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic) or an IndieBound store near you. I would like to thank the publishers for sending me an ARC of this novel via Edelweiss.

This novel qualifies for the following reading challenges: New Release Challenge (#6), What’s In A Name (#3 – Category: Punctuation – there’s a dash between half and baked!).

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5 thoughts on “Cannabis Confections.

  1. Me too! I also love culinary fiction, especially the story is combined with crime. Recipes at the back are a bonus, although cannabis is illegal in Australia.
    This novel sounds good.
    Funnily enough, I’m about to bake a batch of ordinary brownies. The ingredients are set out on the kitchen bench waiting for me to finish WordPressing!

    Liked by 1 person

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