“Hi,” Jess said with a tentative smile, feeling the flush of heat in her cheeks. The antiseptic smell filled her nostrils. She thrust out the brightly colored tin. “I brought you some cookies.”
The woman in the bed stared at her, dark eyes rounded, then shifted her gaze to the tin, but made no move to take the cookies. The soft whir of oxygen flowing through the cannula and the beeping of the monitors filled the room. Feeling awkward, Jess set the cookies on the tray table. “Maybe you’ll feel like having some later. Or maybe your husband will help you eat them.”
The woman’s face scrunched in on itself and she shook her head, swinging it slowly from side to side. Her eyes were wide with fear, and her fingers turned white where she gripped the metal guardrail of the hospital bed.
Jess’s heart clenched. In that bed, she saw so much more than her neighbor. She saw all the women she wrote about, all the victims she yearned to help.
Gingerbread Dead is a thrilling little tidbit of a Christmas mystery, part of the Christmas Cookies series, and it is just the thing to snuggle up with on a cold winter’s evening. The main character, Jessica Barker, is a nose-to-the-grindstone type of girl, steadily working on finetuning her true crime blog and increasing her audience so she can eventually launch her own podcast on the subject. I enjoyed learning about the kind of preparation she did, where she took her inspiration and the amount of daily research required to maintain the blog and write for The Parkersville Post website (her bill-paying day job.) Suffice it to say it takes a lot of work.
The storyline is dark and involves suspected domestic abuse, which quickly escalates into a deadly situation. The author does an excellent job working in the common responses and reactions, the excuses, and the rationalizations, often seen from abuse victims and their abusers. I liked that Jess was courageous enough to take action.
The story is not all darkness, though. There is a sweet, budding romance between Jess and her friend, Brendan. Some of their interactions really made me smile.
I recommend GINGERBREAD DEAD to cozy mystery readers who enjoy holiday or culinary-themed stories.