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Bran New Death: 12/22/20
Bran New Death by Victoria Hamilton is the start of the Merry Muffin mystery series. Merry Wynter has put her worldly belongings into storage and has headed north to Autumn Vale in Upstate New York to a castle she's inherited. Her late uncle Melvin died in a car crash. Having been blacklisted from modeling, she has nothing else better to do than to see the place in person and hopefully sell it.
Upstate seems to be rife with castles in cozy mysteries and tiny towns that are so close to Canada they're probably floating on yet to be discovered islands in Lake Ontario. Such is the life of the cozy series written by Canadians for Americans. As I have family from both sides of that border, I don't mind.
Shortly after Merry arrives and begins the arduous task of getting the the mansion and its grounds, a man ends up dead. Merry is now stuck in Autumn Vale until the killer can be caught.
Merry Wynter is unusual among the cozy mystery leads I've read. She's older and more jaded. She's almost a throwback to Kinsey Millhone or Anna Pigeon. Unlike those two, though, she's also very clearly part of Gen-X. Most of mystery series I've read jumped from having Boomer sleuths to having Millennial ones.
While Merry will clearly be earning her keep in Autumn Vale through her baking, her ability to solve this mystery isn't directly related to her baking. Besides working in fashion, she's had a bunch of other jobs, some of which come in handy here for recognizing the shenanigans behind the murder. I like Merry is a well rounded person.
The second book is Muffin But Murder (2014).