A food blogger investigates her neighbor’s death.
One brush with death apparently isn’t enough for Hope Early, who moved back to her hometown hoping to recover from a brutal stint on The Sweet Taste of Success, a reality cooking show that led to the spectacular and very public breakup of her marriage. But life in rural Connecticut hasn’t proved all that restorative. Shortly after her arrival in Jefferson, her sister, Claire Dixon, needed Hope’s help clearing her of the murder of a rival realtor (The Uninvited Corpse, 2018), a favor that left Hope facing down a killer. Now, Hope’s neighbor Peggy Olson is burned to death in a fire, a blaze that would have been mistaken for a stovetop accident triggered by the elderly woman’s failing memory if not for the discovery of a second body in the house. And although Hope has reluctantly agreed to contribute to a forthcoming cookbook based on Sweet Taste, she can’t concentrate on her cookies when there’s a killer lurking nearby and the police seem stumped. Her mode of investigation is a little more direct than that of most other small-town amateurs. Instead of quietly nosing around and asking nondirective questions, she confronts many of Jefferson’s leading citizens, asking them straight up if there’s any reason they might want Planning and Zoning Commission member Lily Barnhart, Peggy’s co-corpse, dead. So it’s hardly a surprise when she comes home one day to find a threatening note nailed to her beautifully refinished door. But the hole that defaces her hardwood may be the least of Hope’s problems as she continues to defy the pleas of the local police to leave the investigation to the professionals.
Sennefelder takes a well-worn formula and pushes it to the edge. Readers may well be tempted to side with the police in their assessment of the heroine’s detective prowess.