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Book 5 - Murder at the Montrose Mansion - A Mallory Beck Cozy Culinary Caper (E-book) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.6 (247 ratings)

Book 5 - Murder at the Montrose Mansion - A Mallory Beck Cozy Culinary Caper (E-book) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.6 (247 ratings)

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Five cozy stars ★★★★★ for the fifth book in the Mallory Beck series! Strong friendships and a cranky crime-solving cat who thinks he's a dog will keep you laughing out loud and turning the pages in this new whodunit.

Main Tropes

  • Recipes included!
  • Clean with no swearing or sex
  • Cozy culinary mystery


There are plenty of things a girl wants to do on her sixteenth birthday. Clearing a family member from suspicion of murder isn’t one of them.

Amber is finally turning sixteen, and Mallory is determined to make the day perfect, baking her everything from brioche to pink lemonade cupcakes for the party her mom is throwing her. Their favorite Honeysuckle Grove detective, Alex Martinez, will be in attendance, too, at least until he gets called away to investigate a recently discovered death involving possible foul play.

When Amber’s last name is the only clue given as to what they might find at the nearby crime scene, Alex and Mallory decide they might have to keep this one quiet or Amber’s sixteenth birthday will be anything but sweet.

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Intro Into Chapter One

Nothing says “party time” better than three dozen pink lemonade cupcakes.

I balanced my tiered cupcake holder on the hood of Alex’s 90s Toyota to make sure they hadn’t been jostled too much en route.

“You’re sure you want to do that here?” Alex raised an eyebrow at me, looking very much like the boy I’d had an unrelenting crush on in the seventh grade.

After a recent storm, I was almost knee-deep in snow, in a dress made for warmer weather, worried about the state of my baking. It was ridiculous. I offered up the only excuse I had. “If food is all I can contribute to my best friend’s sixteenth birthday, I’m going to make it amazing.”

Alex snickered and lifted the Rubbermaid container with the rest of my prepared food from the backseat. “I thought I was your best friend.”

I blushed, despite the frigid air. Alex would count as something akin to my best friend if my feelings for him weren’t so…complicated.

“Besides, when has your food not been amazing?”

I blushed harder. I had approached Amber’s mom, Helen Montrose, almost a month ago to check and see if it was okay if I threw Amber a small birthday celebration. Helen had been emerging from her fog of grief over her husband’s death at the time and trying to make up for emotionally abandoning her children in the months prior. She countered by saying that her mother should really be the one to throw her a sweet-sixteen party.

I had my reservations. Helen Montrose still had days where she couldn’t get herself out of bed, and from what Amber told me, she wouldn’t have a clue who to invite.

At the same time, my concerns were twofold. I wanted the best for Amber, of course, but I also didn’t want her mother turning around and telling her that she should find a best friend her own age—not some twenty-eight-year-old widow who liked to solve murder investigations in her spare time.

So, for the most part, I had pasted on a smile and an agreeable attitude, and encouraged Helen Montrose to take the helm of Amber’s party. I only offered a handful of suggestions for the invitation list and begged that I could contribute some food.

I followed Alex up the walkway to the front door of the Montrose mansion. Snow had leaked down the sides of my boots—Alex was right; the hood of his car had not been the best place to rearrange cupcakes—and I was already shivering from the thin purple dress I’d selected. I hoped this was all simply a bad start to a good day.

“You ready?” Alex asked me before pressing on the doorbell. It was as if he knew I needed a minute to breathe and reapply my smile.

I nodded. “You bet.”

The door opened in front of us, and a very put-together Helen Montrose stood on the other side, all bouffant hairstyle and plastic grin. Amber’s mother truly must have an on/off switch. But I couldn’t concentrate on any of that because with the opening of the door, an overhang let go of a foot of snow right on top of my head.

It dripped down my face and inside my coat. With a startled gasp, I arched my back at the icy droplets making their way down my neck. The insides of my boots now held enough of the white stuff to start a snowball fight.

Somehow, I saved the cupcakes.

“Oh, dear!” Helen said. “Let me help.” But she didn’t make any move forward to do so.

“Oh, Mal…” Alex brushed the snow from my head and the back of my coat, but I could tell he was trying not to giggle. Although, who was I kidding? I would’ve done the same if it had happened to him.

“Just…take the cupcakes!” I said to both of them.

This Helen Montrose could handle. She reached out for my tray, and I used both my newly free hands to wipe the snow and my soaked hair away from my face.

“Is that Mallory—?” Amber’s words were cut off when she came around her mother and saw my snow-soaked appearance. She, unlike Alex, didn’t hold back her laugher. I tilted my head and raised my eyebrows until she could collect herself. “Come up to my room,” she said when she could overcome her amusement. “I’ll get you something dry to wear.”

I’d only been in Amber’s bedroom one time, on the very first day I met her—when I’d arrived to deliver a casserole on behalf of the church, right in the middle of her father’s wake. That day, it had also been a Sunday afternoon, but so much else had changed for both of us.

We had become much closer since then, and it seemed odd to me when I followed her into her pin-neat pink room that she spent most of her nights here, in a place I barely knew.

She threw a pair of leggings and one of her oversized hoodies onto the bed. “These should fit.”

I shrugged out of my coat and let out a groan. “But I wore purple, just for you.”

Purple was Amber’s current favorite color. I’d decorated the cupcakes and cheesecake bites in purple butterflies and sprinkles for exactly that reason.

“Well, if it’s just for me, then you’re in luck because I don’t care.” She dug her fists into the sides of her waist, as if daring me to argue. She wore one of her own oversized hoodies. I shouldn’t have been surprised, as most of her wardrobe was made up of hoodies with big statements. This one was royal blue and read: MY LIFE IS BASED ON A TRUE STORY. “I’ll leave you to change. You can meet us downstairs.”

She rolled her eyes on that last bit, so as she shut the door behind her, I wondered what the “us” was I might find down in her living room.

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