Earthly Delights
A Corinna Chapman Mystery
Kerry Greenwood

Poisoned Pen Press
Hardcover/246 pages
ISBN: 1-59058-393-0
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"A delicious tale of intrigue, mayhem, murder and fun in light and dark."

A delicious tale of intrigue, mayhem, murder and fun in light and dark.

Corinna Chapman, overweight, divorced, and comfortably single baker owns Earthy Delights and specializes in breads. Into her ordered, unsociable working life—beginning at 4 a.m. and ending at 2 p.m.—intrudes an emaciated young girl dying of a heroin overdose in Calico Alley. Announced by the needle of a spent syringe stuck in Heckle the cat’s paw, one half of the team of Heckle and Jeckle, the Mouse Police keeping Corinna’s bakery rodent-free, the hurricane of change blows Corinna’s ordered life to shreds and announce bigger storms to come.

The winds bring a dark mysterious stranger. He plays heavy for the Soup Run, a group that includes a lawyer, a nun, a nurse, and Daniel who makes Corinna’s hormones rise like the best pasta duoro yeast. Corinna’s ex-husband James blows by for dinner and a bit of financial intrigue, bringing the key to the mystery man who has moved into Insula, the lovely old architectural fantasy where Corinna and her neighbors live and keep shop. The denizens who inhabit Insula include Mistress Dread, the six-foot-plus dominatrix with waist length black hair, three computer nerds who own The Lone Gunman, a half gypsy witch named Meroe, and a pair of unrelated identical anorexic Goth twins. Corinna’s life isn’t unsociable and boring any more.

To this recipe for change, add skinny part-time Igor who wants to be a baker, an overworked and testy Senior Constable, dying junkies, and an old-fashioned Bible quoting graffitist who believes all the women of Insula are whores and has a taste for weed killer and a penchant for failed arson attempts. Add a dash of an alcoholic father looking for his runaway daughter, a pinch of Lestat, master of blood games at Blood Lines the local Goth hangout, a heaping helping of romance, bake, and serve.

Corinna Chapman of Earthy Delights is an original heroine in a very unconventional neighborhood. This heroine is neither thin nor fashionable. She is grumpy and hates to talk in the mornings and yet Kerry Greenwood makes Corinna an eminently likeable character. Each denizen of Greenwood’s world is equally unusual and just quirky enough to be real.

The steady pacing keeps the reader quickly turning pages and unwilling to put the book down. Greenwood deftly lards the characters’ lives with just enough history and background to keep this funny and poignant tale interesting without slowing the tempo. Corinna’s seamless and wonderfully interesting insights and wry humor will make you chuckle.

Once the secret is out, Greenwood’s hodgepodge of characters, businesses and action in Earthly Delights’ corner of Melbourne will be the place to emigrate.


Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell