Valentine Donuts by Ginger Bolton

1 7/8 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
½ cup milk
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter

Vegetable oil with a smoke point of 400º or higher, or follow your deep fryer manufacturer’s instructions

Confectioners’ sugar

In one bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt with a fork or whisk until blended.

In another, whisk together the egg, milk, sugar, and butter.

Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Stir until blended, adding flour if necessary to make the dough firm enough to handle.

Chill the dough for ½ – 1 hour.

With a floured rolling pin, roll dough on a floured board to 1/3 inch think.

Using a large floured heart cookie cutter, cut out the doughnuts. Cut smaller donuts out of centers with a smaller floured heart cookie cutter.

Place the donuts on silicone baking sheets, parchment paper, or floured waxed paper.

Knead the scraps together and roll out and cut more donuts. Continue until all the dough is cut out.

Allow the donuts to rest 5 or 10 minutes.

Heat the oil to 360º.

Fry the donuts a few at a time. When the first side is golden, turn them over. When the second side is golden, remove them and drain them on paper towels.

When the donuts are cool, decorate them with pink or white icing and sprinkles.

Emily Westhill runs the best donut shop in Fallingbrook, Wisconsin, alongside her retired police chief father-in-law and her tabby Deputy Donut. But after murder claims a favorite customer, Emily can’t rely on a sidekick to solve the crime—or stay alive.

If Emily has learned anything from her past as a 911 operator, it’s to stay calm during stressful situations. But that’s a tall order when one of her regulars, Georgia Treetor, goes missing. Georgia never skips morning cappuccinos with her knitting circle. Her pals fear the worst—especially Lois, a close friend who recently moved to town. As evening creeps in, Emily and the ladies search for Georgia at home. And they find her—murdered among a scattering of stale donuts . . .

Disturbingly, Georgia’s demise coincides with the five-year anniversary of her son’s murder, a case Emily’s late detective husband failed to solve before his own sudden death. With Lois hiding secrets and an innocent man’s life at stake, Emily’s forced to revisit painful memories on her quest for answers. Though someone’s alibi is full of holes, only a sprinkling of clues have been left behind. And if Emily can’t trace them back to a killer in time, her donut shop will end up permanently closed for business . . .