After losing her job as food editor at a glossy magazine, Rosetta Sugarbaker Calloway—aka “Sugar” to friends—isn’t sweet on accepting defeat and crawling back to her gossipy southern hometown. So when she has an opportunity to launch a community cookbook business with blue-ribbon baker Dixie Spicer in peaceful St. Ignatius, Iowa, she jumps at the chance to start over from scratch . . .
But as Sugar assembles recipes for the local centennial celebration, it’s not long before she’s up to her oven mitts in explosive threats, too-hot-to-handle scandals, and a dead body belonging to the moody matriarch of the town’s first family. With suspicions running wild, Sugar and Spice must solve the murder before someone innocent takes the heat—and the real culprit gathers enough ingredients to strike again . . .
Though Sugar Calloway never expected to be starting over at her age, she is doing just that and loving her new life in small town Iowa. St. Ignatius is a wonderfully tight-knit community with loads of charm and personality. With her best-friend, Dixie Spicer, Sugar has launched a small publishing house focused on cookbooks, community and otherwise. With a large project already in the works, Sugar and Dixie are hoping for a smooth, successful project for their first time out of the gate.
And the universe laughs . . . . .
With the enormous good in small towns also come the bad in small towns: nosy neighbors, long-standing rivalries, and contrary personalities. Every one of those personality types seem to be involved in Sugar and Dixie’s project and the latest explosion involves two ladies with a decades-long and well-known hatred of one another and their respective scone recipes. The cookbook only has room for one and each of the ladies is certain her recipe is the one that needs to be included if the cookbook is to be at all successful. Though everyone involved with the project is certain this argument is just the latest in the ladies’ very long feud and will blow over in no time, the group, as it turns out, is wrong, dead wrong. Within days, one of the ladies is found dead and the other is to blame. Poison by scone is no way to go and the murder weapon seems to point clearly to one culprit, Dixie’s beloved aunt who just happens to have skipped town.
Though Sugar and Dixie have no experience solving crimes, Sugar found the body and Dixie’s aunt is accused so they’re going to do their best to suss out the real culprit and clear Dixie’s aunt’s name. Everyone knows the murder cannot have really been over a scone recipe which leaves Sugar and Dixie with a load of questions. Primary on their list of questions, who hated the old bird enough to kill her? The answer to that question turns out to be quite a few people as the old lady was known for her surly attitude and sharp tongue. What’s more, her husband seems to have been stepping out on her which brings up even more questions. Suddenly, Sugar and Dixie have more suspects than they know what to do with and very little time to solve the mystery.
The Bottom Line: There are two things that really stick out for me in this first in a series book: 1) the wonderful descriptions and variety of foods being used in the community cookbook and 2) the fact that both Dixie and Sugar have no idea what they’re doing when it comes to solving crime. Between the two, there is a wonderful mix of vast experience and zero experience and I found that be a lovely combination. Sugar and Dixie are completely likeable characters who have nothing but kind spirits and good intentions. When you add to the likeable characters a fine small town setting, an interesting cozy mystery plot, and loads of yummy food, you have a recipe for success!