Cobblered to Death
Courtney Archer Mystery #1
By Rosemarie Ross
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
Out of the frying pan, into the fire . . .
Courtney Archer is known for hosting the show Cooking with the Farmer’s Daughter . . . despite the fact that she’s actually a pediatrician’s daughter. Now she’s signed on for a role on The American Baking Battle. On this reality show, she can start developing a more authentic image for herself—and as a bonus, the usual backstabbing and manufactured drama isn’t part of the Baking Battle script. But genuine drama is heating up behind the scenes .
During a film shoot in the scenic Pocono Mountains, Courtney has to juggle career commitments like pots on a six-burner stove. Adding to the stress is Mick, a contestant who finds out about her fake farm-girl story. Determined to succeed at her new gig, she whips up a cherry cobbler in a cast-iron fry pan one evening and leaves it out to cool. But the next morning, it’s Mick’s body that’s cooling—right next to Courtney’s pan, now classified as a murder weapon . . . (Goodreads)
Cobblered to Death, the first book in the Courtney Archer Mystery series, has a great premise that is sure to please fans of culinary cozies with its focus on a TV cooking show host and a baking competition, but the book is uneven.
The story started out interesting. Courtney is a trained pastry chef from Chicago, the daughter of a doctor. However, her television persona is that of a down home cook who grew up on a farm. As time goes on, she is more and more uncomfortable keeping up this façade. She is hired to be a host of The American Baking Battle, and contestant Mick soon starts to cause trouble, threatening to expose Courtney’s secret. Courtney finds herself the prime suspect in Mick’s death when her cast iron pan full of cherry cobbler is used as the murder weapon.
Unfortunately, the mystery here is thin and, ultimately, disappointing. There are too few suspects to work through, and there are virtually no clues to move the investigation along. Courtney does not do anything stupid or particularly dangerous while investigating, but most of her investigating seems to be lucky guessing. I blame not figuring out whodunit on the lack of good clues and plotting. That said, the behind the scenes look at filming a baking competition and the emphasis on food, for me, saves the book. I liked these foodie bits, but even they teetered on being too repetitive.
Courtney is an average character, and I do not think I got to know her well enough to decide if I like her very much. As the book went on, I found her fear of being outed tedious. There are some (intentionally) unlikable characters and a couple of more relatable ones such as Courtney’s producer Eric and competition judge Shannon, but none of them are endearing or very memorable.
Cobblered to Death has its failings, but the food theme is great. I hope the next installment I the series is stronger.