Thursday, June 20, 2013

Gluten for Punishment

Gluten for Punishment (A Baker's Treat Mystery, #1)Gluten for Punishment by Nancy J. Parra
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

2.5 stars for the strange detail issues. For example, in my reality, flour bombs + people coated in wheat flour + open bakery door = no-longer-GF-certified premises, but that didn't happen in this case. She kept serving the food that she'd put out, and it didn't sound like she had to decontaminate the bakery. At the very least, she allowed all the people--including herself--who'd gotten coated in flour to enter and touch things in her store, which astonished me to the degree that I was completely distracted from the point of this early scene.

Somewhere near the beginning of the book, Parra says Toni lived in Chicago for 15 years, but then later on in the book, she says 10 years. Again, the inconsistency yanked me out of the story.

And finally, the scene where Toni is kneading & proofing the dough to work through her anger: I have been gluten-free for about seven or so years now, and I have NEVER kneaded any gluten-free dough. The purpose of kneading is to develop the gluten and evenly distribute yeast gases. Gluten-free dough is usually more like thick cake batter, or at the very least too sticky to do much more than spread or drop into a baking container. Did Parra not consult ANY gluten-free bakers before writing & publishing this book? But then, she includes recipes at the end of her book, which implies that she--or someone she knows--does bake GF foods. Perhaps Parra should have consulted this website (or one of hundreds like it) before writing this scene: (Scroll down to the section on bread baking)

However, I did find someone who created a GF bread dough that does need to be kneaded: Which means it is possible, if not probable, that Toni could have sort of kneaded her bread dough. Probably not long enough to work off her anger, though. And then there is the issue of how long the character "proofs" her dough vs how long GF dough can/should be proofed. But I'm tired of focusing on all the things that annoyed me about the book and pulled me away from the story.

Irritations aside, I enjoyed the basic story of a newly divorced woman who'd inherited her mother's house in her hometown in Kansas and who'd therefore moved back home and opened a gluten-free bakery in the heart of wheat country. A local farmer sabotages her grand opening, and when she later finds him dead in front of her store, she becomes the main suspect in his homicide. When the police seem disinclined to search elsewhere for the culprit, she takes matters into her own hands and agrees to assist her eccentric grandmother by asking around, gathering information to locate the real murderer, despite the increasingly personal threats she receives.

I was correct in my suspicions as to one of the guilty parties, but I didn't solve the whole thing.

For readers' advisors: story and character doorways, no sex, and if there was any swearing, I don't remember it.

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