When Vangie was sent to St Angus to do penance, she tried to stay out of trouble. She worked at the bakery to fill in the extra hours left by the limited hours she was allowed at the church. She didn't really mean to cause a scandal or hurt anybody.
Can't have that.
In order to clear her good name and keep her face off the front page, this part-time-baker-part-time-pastor becomes extra nosy...with a little side of breaking-and-entering. But when she comes face-to-face with the Sheriff, Vangie can't ignore the fact that one of her macarons was involved in a murder. She has to find the real murderer.
Penance on the Prairies is the first book in the Vangie Vale Mysteries--a western-set female sleuth mystery. It used to be called "Vangie Vale and the Murdered Macaron." (This is the second edition.)
I enjoyed reading this book. Pastor Vangie, sent to Montana. She part time preaches and the rest of the time she has a bakery named Matchbakery. Then Claire is murdered. This is the beginning of all the different secrets in the town. The twists and turns really surprised me. I enjoyed all of them.
At the beginning of this book, I was confused. The main character of a cozy mystery running a bakery isn't unheard of, but also having her be a pastor was strange to me. Would a pastor do all the sneaking around that a cozy MC must do? Well, Vangie does.
However, I was soon brought into the storyline and the characters. There were a lot of people and honestly I had a bit of trouble keeping them all and their relationships straight, but the mystery was well done and I am definitely interested in continuing the series.
The original cover and title of this book make more sense to me, but the author wrote at the end that she also thought she was writing about a bakery and the series has evolved since then. We'll just have to see I guess.
This was a lot of fun. I enjoyed the twists and turns of the mystery and the small town of St. Agnes. I especially liked that the main character was a pastor/baker, which is a perspective I've never encountered before in a cozy. That aspect of her character added a neat dimension to Vangie's investigation and I liked seeing the care she took and solace she helped provide to many of the other characters in the book while also showing her as a whole person with her own foibles, and challenges.
I'm not sure I bought Vangie's motivation all the time either. However, it kept me guessing. Very much looking forward to the next in series.
This was a great mystery with many intriguing characters. Vangie is my favourite, of course! The more I read, the more I wanted to read. Can't wait to see what Vangie gets up to next!
Saint Agnes, Montana is a small town where
Evangeline Vale better known as Vangie has
been placed a part time pastor.
Vangie has opened a bakery named the
Matchmaker Bakery. This is her full time job.
Vangie is able to match you to the perfect
pantry and beverage.
When one of the Matchmaker Bakery boxes
is found at the scene of a murder, Vangie
becomes a person of interest. Vangie decides
to begin her own investigation to find the
murderer. She opens more than one can of
Small town gossipy neighbors, a Sheriff with
an unknown dislike of Vangie, a colorful, cast
of quirky, well defined characters with a lot
of secrets underlying their behavior making
one wonder who can be trusted.
A fast paced, well plotted murder mystery
with many twists and turns.
A delicious murdered macaron recipe at
the end of the story.
I read a lot of books in a lot of genres, and I have to say this cozy stands out. It's light, funny, warm, suspenseful, insightful and spiritually uplifting. All in one book! I'm amazed.
R.L Syme is a masterful writer. Her characters are unique, wonderfully flawed and totally lovable. Her plot is so tight I had a hard time putting the book down. Her prose is luscious. I've marked several lines on Goodreads, they are that good.
And full disclosure: I happen to love macrons.
I can't wait to start the next book.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves cozy mysteries or good genre fiction.