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Book Review: If Mashed Potatoes Could Dance by Paige Shelton

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First off, Paige Shelton’s A Country Cooking School Mystery, aka Gram’s Country Cooking School series, is one of my all-time favorite series – period! Nope, not going to say in the amateur sleuth, cozy, mystery genre or any of that discombobulated craziness. Shelton’s A Country Cooking School Mystery series is my book tater chip. Seriously, did I just say “tater chip”? Wow! Did I fall into the Duck Dynasty realm or did Honey Boo Boo and all of that ridiculousness blow my way? Please let me be dreaming… although, having a nightmare is more like it.

Back to Shelton and her magnificent story telling. I just can’t devour one. I wish she’d tap quicker – listening maestro of cozy chips and Berkley Prime Crime. I just cannot get enough of this series. I am pulled in from the beginning and am filled with ecstasy at the end… oops, hold up, this can get a bit spicy… then again, spicy is a seasoning. Hahaha!

If Mashed Potatoes Could Dance is an entertaining tale on par with the best storytellers in all the land of fiction. Shelton doesn’t force ghostly apparitions upon the reader nor does she strain her paranormal muscle making us believe just for the sake of keeping the story rolling. Shelton’s second installment flows like the waves in the Aegean Sea and keeps us basking in bliss as we furiously flip pages old skool style or on our newfangled devices. Word! 

While Shelton is a brilliant storyteller, it is her comedic timing that sets her above those ghostly wannabe writers delving into the paranormal realm. Not for nothing, while ghosts are all the rage and Morasco does love a delicious bump in the night, it seems a staleness has set over the genre and some are just penning boo tales to make a few bucks. Hey, I understand the economy, but let’s keep our integrity intact people and write with a fierce passion and listen to the muse inside… if not, please keep it moving until it goes over the lack of originality cliff.

We are back in Broken Rope, Missouri with the darling Isabelle “Betts” Winston and her lovely gram, Miz Winston. Delicious home-style recipes are always on the menu at Gram’s Country Cooking School and so are the ghosts that flit about. The formulas are a secret from the students and so are the feisty ghosts they communicate with. Culinary and apparition intrigue abound this little homicidal enclave.

Now, let’s get to the juicy innards. Ewww… aahhh – let’s just get to it, folks!

This time around, Betts and Gram decide to support their friend Jake at Broken Rope’s Historical Society by obliging several epicurean vacationers with mouthwatering munchies, capricious cooking lessons, amusement, and murder.

The duo encounter the ax-wielding presence of Sally Swarthmore, one of Broken Rope’s renowned murderers, who implores with Betts to help locate her diary. Sally’s journal may well substantiate that she was actually a victim, not a villain.

Fast forward to the latest offing and all the havoc that ensues with the local denizens of Broken Rope when one of the tourists turns up lifeless with a noose bound around his neck and two other sightseers go missing. Now Betts and Gram are tossed into the bedlam as they unravel two mysteries and uncover a callous murderer.

I adore all the characters in Shelton’s charming series. Brava to Shelton for giving Jake a bit more of the spotlight. Shelton does a remarkable job of unfolding all the players like layers in a yummy Long Island (Lindenhurst to be exact) seven layer bakery cake.

However, the sophomore offering could have benefitted from a few more chapters or one fulfilling chapter to wrap up Sally’s story. Unfortunately, it seemed as if Shelton’s egg timer dinged a bit too soon. Tsk tsk. Shelton is a much better raconteur to chuck an abrupt ending to readers. If Mashed Potatoes Could Dance is a luxurious read to be savored – not a quickie when the dud… er, dude runs out of Viagra.

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About Diane Morasco