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Dying for Devil’s Food, by Jennifer McKinlay, A Berkley Prime Crime Paperback, $7.99 US/$10.00 CAN, includes recipes. 278 pages with excerpt from “Word to the Wise.”

**By Jenn McKinlay**

High school reunions can be murder — well, they can be if you’re Melanie Cooper and Angie Harper, baking cupcakes for your fifteen-year high school reunion — because of course they can!

Dying for Devil’s Food is the eleventh Cupcake Bakery Mystery. Eleventh! Can you believe it? (I can’t). And just when I thought I’d run out of ideas for the series, an invite to my high school reunion arrived. I immediately realized how perfect it would be for Mel and Angie to have to go back to high school with all of its unresolved conflict, angst, and mean girls. It was too good of a plotline to pass up.

When I called my best friend to see if she’d go with me to our reunion (research), she said no, unequivocally no. I was surprised. I mean I didn’t love my high school years but I didn’t hate them either, mostly, I think of them with the nostalgic glow of late 80’s big hair, Madonna inspired fashion, MTV, and John Hughes films. But my friend was most definitely in the no category. Her memories of high school included big heart break and an extreme case of shyness that she assures me I never noticed because I was too busy talking to everyone and anyone. It’s true I’m a talker and I view everyone as a friend I haven’t met yet. I thought everyone did that. Apparently, not.

Unfortunately for me, a schedule conflict with my own school-age children meant I couldn’t go. However, the person in charge put up tons of pictures online, so I got to see the event and the people who turned up and there was a nice flurry of posts about the party, so I got the gist. It looked like everyone was happy, possibly drunk, and most of the class had aged pretty well. There were a few people who looked worse for wear but they were the ones you’d expect as they were the wild ones back in the day, too.

Of course, as it usually proves out, the kids who had been rock stars in high school had peaked back then. Their adult lives were not what had been expected of them – no presidents, rocket scientists, professional athletes, or movie stars. And the students people hadn’t noticed back in the day? Well, some of them were doing some pretty amazing stuff with their lives. Achievement unlocked, which was delightful to see.

The coolest thing I noticed, however, was that the old cliques had been demolished. People who never spoke to each other in high school now had their arms around each other as they shared pictures of their kids and reminisced about that time a notebook was “accidentally” set on fire in Mr. Capazzi’s chemistry class or the time Mr. Bonavita’s combover hair coil got lifted up by the wind and unfurled to a length of three feet! Good times.

I have since made a solemn vow – to myself – that when the next reunion rolls around, I will do my best to be there. Although, it occurs to me that if any of my classmates read this book they might not invite me. Not that the characters are based on any of them, but some stuff happens…well, here’s a longer description so you can see for yourself.

Melanie Cooper has zero interest in catering her fifteen-year high school reunion, but Angie insists it’s only right that they bask in the success of Fairy Tale Cupcakes–and Mel’s engagement to the delicious Joe DeLaura is the cherry on top!

Everything is going better than expected until Cassidy Havers, resident mean girl and Mel’s high school nemesis, picks a fight. No longer willing to put up with Cassidy’s bullying, Mel is ready to tell the former homecoming queen to shut her piehole and call it a night. But as Mel and Joe prepare to depart, Cassidy is found dead in the girl’s bathroom, next to a note written in lipstick that points right to Mel–making her the prime suspect.

Now, Mel must follow the clues to find the real killer and keep her reputation from being frosted for a crime she didn’t commit.