Betts and Gram agree to help their friend Jake at Broken Rope’s Historical Society by accommodating some foodie tourists for the night and occupying them with cooking lessons. It couldn’t be worse timing when the pair encounter the ax-wielding ghost of Sally Swarthmore, one of Broken Rope’s legendary murderers, who pleads with Betts to help find her diary--a diary that could prove that Sally was really a victim, not a villain.
My Review: I've said many times in reviews that my favorite cozies contain a modern day mystery and a historical mystery. So when the historical mystery involves an ax-wielding ghost from the Old West, I'm in pure heaven.
Paige Shelton certainly has a knack for creating her ghostly characters. In the first Country Cooking School Mystery, If Fried Chicken Could Fly, I confess I fell a little bit in love with Jerome, as did Betts. In this second book in the series, If Mashed Potatoes Could Dance, Sally Swarthmore became one of my all-time favorite fictional ghosts. Accused of murdering her parents with an ax, she is desperate for Betts and Gram to help her find her diary that she is certain answers many questions about her life. She roams Broken Rope still holding an ax, and announces her arrival with the scent of lavender. She is strong, yet incredible sweet, feisty, sympathic, and I just adored her. I was so incredibly touched by this character and the sad life that she led. The entire time I was reading the book I was remembering the Lizzie Borden story, and lo and behold when I got to the author's Afterword, that is exactly the true-life event she was channeling as well. I was so happy that by the end Sally got the answers she was looking for.
I liken this series to PJ Alderman's Port Chatham mysteries, which is a huge compliment because I *adore* that series. With both books I have been drawn into Betts' life in modern day Broken Rope, and the world that her ghostly friends draw her into. One of my favorite cozies of 2012.
FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher.