In West’s culinary mystery debut, an amateur pastry chef is the prime suspect in her fiancé’s murder.
After a hardscrabble childhood, Teeny Templeton has a bright future ahead. Engaged to Charleston real-estate mogul Bing Jackson, she’s determined to bake her own wedding cake. But when her cake-making class is cancelled, she returns home to Bing’s McMansion to spot him playing nude badminton with two gorgeous models. After pelting the participants with unripe peaches, Teeny winds up in jail. Miss Dora, Bing’s embittered stepmother, posts her bail and takes her under her wing. Apparently, Bing inherited his late father’s penchant for philandering. Dora, a society interior designer with a passion for pink, installs Teeny in the historic Spencer-Jackson House, which Dora and Bing have been wrangling over since his father’s death. Bing doesn’t show for an attempted make-up date at a local tavern, but while imbibing peach-tinis, Teeny encounters high-school sweetheart Coop O’Malley, who broke her heart when he unexpectedly dumped her for his ex-girlfriend. Coop, a lawyer, undertakes to solve Teeny’s legal problems and, perhaps, her romantic ones. Bing is found dead of gunshot wounds at his home. Teeny was at the scene—someone tased her from behind, and the murder weapon disappeared. Now she’s under suspicion and 24-hour surveillance by police as well as by Bing’s eccentric sister, who has shown up in the motor home she shares with multiple cats to contest Bing’s will, which left everything to Teeny. Money means nothing to Teeny—she wants only to recapture the man who got away, that is if his estranged English aristocrat archeologist wife will let her. Threats, forged documents, a crusty private detective, adorable pooches and the Templeton book of poison-optional desserts are just for starters. The plot is of the “Just when things couldn’t get any worse” variety, but the zaniness seems forced, as does the comedy.
All the food mystery staples are duly trotted out, but the soufflé is DOA.