Brought to you by OBS reviewer Daniele
Betts Winston has inherited more than her cooking skills from her grandmother—she can also see and talk to ghosts of people that once roamed the streets of Broken Rope, Missouri, in the days of the Old West…
With Gram’s Country Cooking School on spring break, Betts and Gram are taking part in this year’s cowboy poetry convention, offering lessons on frying catfish over an open campfire. But when a staged gunfight ends in real death and her brother Teddy becomes a prime suspect, Betts may be the one to jump from the frying pan into the fire.
After her ghostly guardian Jerome appears to watch her back and a spectral Pony Express rider gallops into town with some unfinished business, Broken Rope starts to seem more like a cowboy ghost convention. With trouble on both sides of this mortal coil, it’s up to Betts to clear her brother, put the spirits to rest, and make sure the true killer doesn’t become the one who got away. (Goodreads)
The cowboy poetry convention has come to the “Old West” town of Broken Rope, and since the cooking school is out for spring break, Betts and Gram pitch in to help with the down time by doing cooking demos and such. But things get off to a rough start when one of the participants is shot during a reenactment skit. Was this some kind of freak accident? With so many visitors in town for the convention, the local law enforcement has their hands full. Betts’ brother, Teddy, quickly falls under suspicion after he is seen arguing with Norman, the victim, the night before his death. But, Norman may not be who he claims to be. Could he have been up to no good? Esther, another convention participant also has a secondary agenda. She is looking for answers about what happened to her many great grandfather when he disappeared near Broken Rope while riding his pony express route. In addition to this “living” mystery, the ghost of a pony express rider appears, needing help to deliver his letters to the addressee’s descendents. He goes by Joe, but could he be Esther’s forefather, Astin? Betts embroils herself both present and past mysteries in an effort to clear Teddy and get to the bottom of things, and she knows she is on the right track when her “guardian ghost” Jerome appears to protect her from danger.
This is a fun cozy mystery series, and the cowboy-ish setting and ghostly aspects keep the plots fresh. Gram, Jerome, and Betts’ best friend Jake are my favorite characters, but Gram does not play prominently in this installment. The genealogy thread was interesting, and I liked the mingling of the two mysteries’ themes. I understand Betts’ need to keep her paranormal abilities a secret, but I wish she would be honest about them with her boyfriend. Also, her “romance” with Jerome is obviously doomed and a bit odd, but it keeps things from getting boring.
Recommended for fans of the series, lovers of food cozies, and those who enjoy a little ghost activity in their cozy mysteries.