What if you could see ghosts? Not the spooky kind, but restless souls who have unfinished tasks and are looking for lasting peace. Isabelle (Betts) Winston is one of those people who can talk to ghosts, and she tries her best to help, whether the person in need is living or dead.
At first the mournful whistle sounded far away and lonely. I was asleep and I liked the noise, as though it were part of a sad but hopeful dream. But then it became less a part of the dream and more the thing that was waking me up.—If Onions Could Spring Leeks by Paige Shelton (Penguin Random House / Berkley Prime Crime, 2015, p. 1)
- Setting: Broken Rope, Missouri, modern times and 1888
- Circumstances: Betts and her grandmother run a country cooking school, but they share more than a love of food: They both can see and talk to ghosts, who are generally harmless and are seeking assistance. This summer Betts has her hands full, helping star-crossed lovers from 1888, coping with tourists, dealing with culinary students, and solving a modern-day murder. Can living and dead get together to solve the dual mysteries?
- Characters: Betts and her grandmother, Miz; Cliff, her boyfriend; Jerome, a cute ghostly friend; Grace & Robert, ghost lovers seeking help; Jake, friend & historian; Roy, Derek, and other culinary students; various townspeople and other ghosts
- Genre: cozy mystery with paranormal elements and a culinary slant
- Themes: friendship, race relations, family, town politics
- People & mysteries: I loved Betts's personality; she's a kind, caring young woman and is a friend to both the dead and the living. Her dual boyfriends (ghost & breathing) and her relationship to her grandmother and friend Jake are fun to read about. The success of a cozy mystery rests on its characters and setting, and Shelton has done a super job with both. I felt fully invested in both mysteries and wanted things to work out for everyone involved.
- Setting: Broken Rope, Missouri, is a place of action: both now and in the past. In the 1880s, the town boasted a lively train station and today it's a tourist attraction, complete with Wild West shows. There's a lot to like about the town and its people.
- Cooking: You all already know that I love a good culinary mystery, so the cooking school aspects of the story grabbed my attention. The evening summer class at the cooking school was all about veggies, and the book includes a few recipes.
- Good to know: This is the fifth in the Country Cooking School mystery series, but the first of the books I read. Paige Shelton offered just enough background so I didn't feel lost. I'm adding her to my cozy reading list.
- Recommendation: If you're looking for something different (in a good way) in your light mystery reading, you should give If Onions Could Spring Leeks a try. I plan on tracking down the earlier books to learn more about Betts, Miz, Jake, and the rest of the gang.
Thanks to Berkley Prime Crime I can offer one of my readers a copy of Paige Shelton's If Onions Could Spring Leeks (I love that title!). Because the publisher will be sending out the book, the giveaway is restricted to those of you with a U.S. mailing address. All you have to do to be entered for a chance to win is to fill out the form. I'll pick a winner using a random number generator on August 18. Once the winner has been confirmed, I'll erase all personal information from my computer. Good luck!