While her homicide cop husband Tom is off in New Jersey chasing a trio of lethal stamp thieves, caterer Goldie Schultz, the pride of Aspen Meadow, Colorado, has to vacate her house on the very day she's set to cook up an Elizabethan banquet for Eliot and Sukie Hyde—because an unknown sniper shoots out the front window. The Hydes offer Goldie and her son Arch temporary lodgings in their castle, brought over from England and reconstructed brick by brick, where a ghost roams, a stunning fencing teacher and daughter of the deceased caretaker shares a deep dark secret with Eliot, and the body of Andy Balachek, one of the stamp thieves, lies a-moldering by the rocks near the castle chapel. Tom flies back in time to get nicked in the shoulder by another sniper's bullet, and while he rests up in Goldie's castle quarters, his former fiancée, Sara Beth O'Malley, a nurse presumed dead in Vietnam, stakes out the Schultz house. Even worse, Goldie's ex, The Jerk, has been released from prison and is romancing Viv Martini, whose previous liaisons include both Eliot and a larcenous philatelist. The ghost pops in and out, former clients of Goldie stop by to criticize, a fencing demonstration goes awry, but Goldie still finds time to visit stamp-dealers, confer with her ex's other ex, cook up everything from steak pies to plum tarts, and sort through the wildly overstuffed plot.
Like its nine predecessors (Tough Cookie, 2000, etc.), Sticks includes a batch of tasty recipes that make Goldie's cooking sound a lot easier to swallow than her adventures.