Introducing Toni Holmes of “Gluten For Punishment” a Baker’s Treat Mystery--
Can a gluten-free baker find her place in a small wheat town?
Toni Ryder returns to her home town of OilTop, Kansas, to fulfill her mother’s wish that Toni keep her sprawling Victorian homestead in the family. The wheat ranchers around her are not happy when Toni tries to make the best of things and opens a gluten-free bakery storefront. Matters grow worse as Toni becomes suspect number one when a wheat farmer is found dead, face down in the horse trough outside Toni’s bakery door. Getting nowhere with the local police, Toni takes the investigation into her own hands as threats grow closer to home, but her number one suspects ends up dead in front of the local bank. Both deaths seem to point to Toni as threats escalate, her home is broken into and her mother’s things smashed and slashed. Can Toni catch a killer and make a place for herself or will the town prefer to be Toni-free over gluten-free?
Here's an excerpt from Gluten For Punishment -
“Toni, did you kill George Meister?”
My mouth went dry. My jaw went slack. The camera’s flash kept popping, blinding me. “What?” I glanced toward Grandma Ruth for some help.
“It’s a fact George vandalized your store before he was killed,” Candy Cole, Oiltop Times reporter pushed on. “You were inside the store at the time he was murdered.”
“I was?” I shivered at the idea. It was bad enough to have a dead body nearby but to have a murder happen within a few feet of you? Nauseating.
“Honey,” Candy said. “You had motive and opportunity. Did you do it?”
“Seriously?” Here I’d been ready to give her a free cup of coffee. Not anymore. I stepped back. “Of course not, I wouldn’t kill anyone.”
“Are you telling me, it’s a coincidence that you’re new in town and a man is murdered outside your bakery?” Candy’s eyes glittered like a snake’s.
“I’m not new in town,” I crossed my arms in front of me. “I grew up here. Are you saying any murders that happened while I lived here as a kid were my fault?”
“No,” Candy said thoughtfully. “But it’s a good angle. I can check and see how the murder rate was when you lived here and what happened after you left.”
“Stop it,” Grandma Ruth slapped the counter. “Toni wouldn’t kill anyone.”
“Oh, really? Then why is the Chief at the courthouse right now getting a warrant signed to search your home and your bakery for evidence?”
I sat down hard at the word warrant.
“Put your head between your knees.” Grandma was beside me. Her sharp tone of voice combined with her palm on the back of my head had me doing exactly what she said. I have to admit staring at the black and white tile floor was a bit more calming than looking at Candy. Her delight at my distress was unnerving.
“I thought we were friends, Candy,” I muttered.
“We are friends, honey,” Candy came around the counter and squatted down to peer at me. “That’s why I’m here.”
I turned my head. “You came to warn me?”
“Good friends hide the body, honey, remember?” Her gaze took on a warm and concerned look. I wasn’t sure if I should believe it.
*Glutenfree recipes included
Nancy J. Parra