Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters, cozy setting
Cons: Plot underdone
The Bottom Line:
Baking contest death
Likable characters but
Plot is uneven
Clobbered by Cherry Cobbler
Once again, I’m proving that I can’t resist a culinary cozy. Despite not needing any new series to start, I just had to pick up Cobblered to Death.
Courtney Archer has made a name for herself as the host of a cooking show called The Farmer’s Daughter. There’s just one catch – she is actually the daughter of a doctor from Chicago. She hates deceiving her fans, but keeping it a secret is part of her contract.
In an effort to expand her brand, Courtney is serving as host of The American Baking Battle. It is supposed to be a friendly baking competition, but even at the opening night reception for the bakers and celebrities to interact, Courtney can sense the tension. It seems that Mick, one of the contestants, is at the center of the problems. Worse yet, he has learned Courtney’s secret and appears ready to hold it over her head. However, on the second morning of taping, Courtney finds Mick dead on the floor of the show’s set, hit over the head with the pan of cherry cobbler she had made for her own show. With the police looking at her as a person of interest, can she figure out what really happened to Mick?
This book started out well, and I was quickly under its spell. Courtney is a strong main character, and I instantly liked her. I could sympathize with her predicament about her background, probably because she clearly doesn’t like it herself. Likewise, her show’s producer, Eric, is great, and we meet some other fun characters. The tension and secrets are introduced quickly as well, giving us some potential suspects before Mick is murdered. And make no mistake, if you read cozy mysteries, it is obvious who the victim will be early on.
However, the further I went into the book, the more I struggled with it. Don’t misunderstand, I still loved the characters. Courtney makes a great friend on the set of the show, and I enjoyed watching their relationship develop. There are hints of romance as well, and I was intrigued by how this storyline played out here and what it set up for the future.
No, my problem lay with the plot. There weren’t quite enough suspects and clues to keep the story moving forward. We get to spend plenty of time with the events surrounding The American Baking Battle, which was fun, but I needed more twists and surprises as I worked my way through the story. The climax was weaker than it should have been as a result, although it does answer all of our questions.
I really did enjoy the setting. The show is being filmed at a private estate in the Poconos, and the location sounded like a lot of fun. I would certainly enjoy a visit in real life when it isn’t filled with the tension of a murder mystery.
The wonderful characters and setting will be more than enough to draw people to this new series, and Cobblered to Death shows them off well. I do hope the plots get stronger as the series progresses.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.