I've scrapped my first review and I'm just going to be blunt rather than a tip toe through the tulips.
My first thought is that this book is a major downgrade from the first one. I thought Glazed Murder was okay, despite not particularly enjoying anything about it. It was decently written. However, in Fatally Flawed, it seems like every single thing happening is aiming to create drama, right from the start. Despite Peg actually turning out to be a bad person, I still think Suzanne was unnecessarily rude to her. In the first chapter, they have a feud which isn't explained properly. All I really see is Suzanne belittling a women and seeming like a complete jerk. In the next chapter, Peg goes to the effort of having Marge getting Suzanne a chef's jacket, which would ordinarily honour any real chef or person hoping to become one... But, Suzanne's inner dialogue makes it out as if it's a complete insult and then once she finds out Peg has made this suggestion, she acts completely disgusted as if Peg was attacking her directly. She even compliments Suzanne by referring to her as a chef, but Suzanne acts like a complete jerk about it. At this point, it also seems like Suzanne is completely missing the point of the tour. She's meant to be showing the guests what ingredients (etc) to be using, but she actually starts preparing (mostly measuring) ingredients before any guests have arrived. Peg simply points out that she ought to wait until people get there and suggests that Suzanne take a break, which is a kind thing to do (for both Suzanne and the guests), but Suzanne acts like Peg is just out to get her.
This nastiness continues with the relationship of Suzanne and Max- the ex husband. It is still unnecessary, in my opinion. Beck has said a few times in the writing that the doughnut shop was purchased with the money Suzanne recieved from the divorce. Ultimately, it seems like an unnecessary point and could easily be replaced with inheriting money from a dead family member, an insurance pay out or a lottery win. The idea of adding the ex husband is frankly just unnecessary. It's created a useless feud between Suzanne and her ex husband who, for some reason, wants her back in his life. So much so that he visits her shop regularly. It baffles me. Later on, he's "having lunch" with Darleen, or so Suzanne considers. It's just such an unnecessary input to the novel and doesn't add anything except useless drama.
Another person she was quite rude to was Janice, the owner of a cake and cookie shop. Sure, Janice makes comment that Suzanne is stealing her business. But other than that, everything about Suzanne's mental and spoken dialogue about this woman is insulting or degrading toward Janice, going so far to mock the other woman for her product. When Janice comes to her, fearing her life, Suzanne is skeptical and even condescending toward the woman about the supposed incident. She then mocks the woman for her not having a mobile phone.
I don't know why, but the friendship between Suzanne and Grace seems forced now. In the first book, it seemed alright, but now it just seems too forced to be natural. Within the first chapter, what might have been intended to be jovial joking ends up as something like a fake friendship. Suzanne offers to buy dinner for Grace, as an example, but then Grace (I assume she's joking, but it doesn't really seem that way) demands dessert because Suzanne wasn't ready to go yet (she had been so exhausted and fell asleep watching the television). It just makes it seem selfish on Grace's part rather than something amusing between friends, just because of the wording and stiffness of the characters talking. Later on in the book, they have several more exchanges and they "investigate" the murder together. But it feels so unreal and forced. Suzanne inwardly expresses a lot of jealousy of Grace's career, again creating unnecessary drama.
It just seems like Suzanne wasn't a bad character in the first. She wasn't great, but she wasn't such a major jerk. The mess she's creating is ridiculous and it just all seems overly dramatic. Beck makes it seem like something interesting has to be happening every single moment. If Suzanne isn't rushing about her busy life as a doughnut maker, she's making plans to go and donate old stock to people in need. If she's not out having fun with her boyfriend, she's going out with her best friend. Even when she sits down just to have a burger, she's got a "good looking stranger" (David Shelby) coming up and talking to her. Yet then she complains about being tired a heap and how much work she has to do, basically whining about things she chose to do. She doesn't need to solve the murder. She doesn't need to go out with friends or Jake. It's just silly that the author keeps on stuffing Suzanne's schedule and then having the character complain about never having a proper holiday. This is just painfully overdone in the attempt to make her a character that so many might relate to.
To "investigate" the crime, she (and Grace) basically go around harassing people for information in order to solve the crime. She really upsets a lot of people and then acts surprised when they're upset, her justification is that because one of her doughnuts was involved as the murder weapon, that gives her the right to go around and be nasty to people. She interrogates another person; "Burt Gentry at the hardware store isn’t as upset as he should be about the murder." Then she goes and interrogates Marge as well, multiple times, even leaving the woman in tears after one visit.
There were a lot of unnecessary elements and some weird inconsistent bits:
I really just didn't care about Bishop's family member being ill. Sure, it's sad, but it didn't add anything useful to the storyline.
An inconsistent thing is that her doughnut has supposedly killed someone (the rat poison on top of it, in the very least). Yet, the very next day, she goes to work as usual and every single doughnut gets sold. That's right, all these people know one of her doughnuts has killed someone but heaps of people come to eat them. It's very weird considering she even says that it's the first time she's every sold her entire stock.
The "good looking stranger" (David Shelby) is kind of useless. He shows up at first at the shop and at other places, quite casually. It's thrown in as something that's meant to be light, I assume an introduction. But, it really has no substance and I really just don't care about people who go up to strangers and constantly try and talk to them... Regardless of how good looking they are. Eventually, it's explained that they had known each other at a camp, but it's just still kind of useless.
It seems silly that Peg had gotten much of her nice, expensive looking furniture and decor for her home (from the charity money), yet she didn't think to pay off her bank loans, leaving her niece in debt.
Even the "mystery" was pretty bad. It's pretty obvious that Peg is meant to be a bad person judging by how Suzanne treats her and she does turn out that way, sure; defrauding a charity is a pretty bad thing to do. But, it's no mystery about who's going to die and it's just poor writing to make it look like she deserved to die for what she'd done. Sure, she might deserve prison, but everything about Suzanne's attitude just seems like she didn't give a damn about the woman's death, the only reason for her "investigation" being that she wanted to clear her own name. She basically even goes around to everyone telling them all about what a bad person Peg was. She has no respect. Even when the woman was alive (when she had no idea about the charity money), she was downright nasty. Even if Peg was a bad person, that shouldn't excuse her poor behaviour to other people, least of all the nasty accusations she made to just about everyone she "interviewed". At one point, she has managed to narrow down her suspect list to four people because of a candy wrapper left on the floor of her shop. From then on, it's even less of a mystery because it basically just gives us the last piece of the puzzle. It's no surprise and has no real climax at the end. The "evidence" of the candy wrapper could even be explained that Peg might have simply had one of them with her when she died. But, it's played off to look like major evidence against the killer (who I won't write here for spoiler reasons), who might have even given it to her. Also, considering they weren't (apparently) sold in the area, Peg might have gotten them when she was travelling as she did travel a little throughout a few counties because of her charity work. I don't consider the hair thing evidence, either; it's kind of flimsy. The ending where she suggests sending the murdered a box of the same type of doughnuts used to kill Peg was meant to seem like a joke. Yet it just turns out to look like making a complete ridicule of the woman's murder, once again making it all out to be about Suzanne.
I think two stars is more than generous since it was bad from even the first chapter. I did not enjoy this at all. I will not likely be continuing the series. This is all just my opinion, though.