cover image BAKED TO DEATH: A Simon Kirby-Jones Mystery

BAKED TO DEATH: A Simon Kirby-Jones Mystery

Dean James, Author . Kensington $22 (248p) ISBN 978-0-7582-0487-5

James's fourth cozy to feature the gay vampire, medieval historian and amateur sleuth, Simon Kirby-Jones (after 2004's Decorated to Death ), takes a bitchy, laugh-out-loud look at historical re-enactments and the obsessive people who live them. In the Bedfordshire village of Snupperton-Mumsley, Lady Prunella Blitherington, the mother of Simon's dishy assistant, Giles, has sold a meadow to London businessman Murdo Millbank, who wants to build a year-round banquet hall and tourist attraction on the site. But first he has to co-opt the re-enactment group, Gesta Angliae Antiquae, that has settled in for a weeklong "medieval faire." Since King Harald Knutson (Henry Baker, greengrocer, in the real world) is dead set against Millbank's plan, Baker has to be ousted for a more compliant king, restaurant owner Luke d'Amboise (aka Luke de Montfort, Duke of Wessex). When Luke succumbs to a poisoned fig pastry (recipe included), Simon finds any number of suspects who wanted the man dead. The reappearance of Simon's graduate adviser and ex-lover, Tristan Lovelace, further complicates his life. Readers will be guessing the killer's identity right to the end of this frothy entertainment. Agent, Nancy Yost. (Apr. 5)

Forecast: The scene on the jacket—a generic pie cooling on a window sill—gives no clue to the novel's setting, but the bright primary colors will attract browsers.