The titles of Paige Shelton's Country Cooking School mysteries might come across as a little hokey, but there's nothing hokey about If Bread Could Rise to the Occasion. Shelton takes us back to Broken Rope, Missouri for another story that mixes contemporary murder, ghosts involved in a murder in the past, and cooking. It's a successful recipe for entertainment and suspense.
Isabelle "Betts" Winston, and her grandmother (Gram) are ready for the new group of fifteen students to show up for their nine-month course in down-home country cooking. But, the sixteenth student throws them off. Freddie O'Bannon insists he was accepted in the class, although Betts and Gram can't even find a copy of his application, let alone an acceptance. And, Freddie seems just a little off. However, there are a few other things that are off in their lives right then, so neither of them spend too much time worrying about Freddie.
Gram has always been able to see the ghosts of some of the less reputable citizens of Broken Rope. However, everything seems a little more intense with Betts in the picture. Betts seems to be able to see the ghosts, and help them with their problems. Murder victims turn up, asking Betts for help, although sometimes they don't remember what actually happened to them. That seems to be the case when Gent Cylas shows up, along with the story of a fire at the old bakery in town. Kennington Bakery had a national reputation until it burned down. And, Gram never told Betts about her friendship with Gent, but it's time for secrets to come out in the open. But, one ghost isn't so sure those secrets should be revealed. Jerome Cowbender is one ghost that continues to appear to Betts. He once protected her grandmother, and, now, he's determined to protect Betts. Time and again he warns Betts to stay away from the old bakery.
But, circumstances don't work out right. When one of the cooking school students dies, Betts worries the school will once more be endangered. Now, she has too much to do between working with Gram at the school, searching for a killer on the loose in Broken Rope, and searching for a killer from the past, despite Jerome's warnings. Betts knows "The truth tends to cause a lot of ruckus before it sets anyone free."
Start with an interesting premise, two women who run a cooking school and see ghosts. Add a pinch of a wonderful setting in the performance town of Broken Rope. Season with murder and ghosts and a dash of romance. It won't be long until there's an appetizing aroma of mystery. If Bread Could Rise to the Occasion combines all the ingredients successfully in a treat for cozy mystery lovers.
Paige Shelton's website is www.paigeshelton.com
If Bread Could Rise to the Occasion by Paige Shelton. Berkley Prime Crime. 2013. ISBN 9780425252239 (paperback), 293p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.