Publication Date: 08/05/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Cozy Mystery
(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound
Paige Shelton on the WEB: website, twitter, facebook, goodreads
Books in the series:
Country Cooking School Mystery
1. If Fried Chicken Could Fly
2. If Mashed Potatoes Could Dance
3. If Bread Could Rise To The Occasion
4. If Catfish Had Nine Lives
Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.
Betts Winston has inherited more than her cooking skills from her grandmother—she can also see and talk to ghosts of people that once roamed the streets of Broken Rope, Missouri, in the days of the Old West…
With Gram’s Country Cooking School on spring break, Betts and Gram are taking part in this year’s cowboy poetry convention, offering lessons on frying catfish over an open campfire. But when a staged gunfight ends in real death and her brother Teddy becomes a prime suspect, Betts may be the one to jump from the frying pan into the fire.
After her ghostly guardian Jerome appears to watch her back and a spectral Pony Express rider gallops into town with some unfinished business, Broken Rope starts to seem more like a cowboy ghost convention. With trouble on both sides of this mortal coil, it’s up to Betts to clear her brother, put the spirits to rest, and make sure the true killer doesn’t become the one who got away.
Paige Shelton's fourth Country Cooking School mystery, If Catfish Had Nine Lives, merges the historical with the paranormal for a winning combination. Shelton's series sounds like it's all about the food and cooking, when in reality, it has a strong historical basis and a few ghostly visitors in each book. Readers who love the Old West, as well as, a good mystery will find this one tantalizing in more ways than one!
What I liked:
I am always excited to receive each new book that comes out from Paige Shelton. She has a way of writing that it so engaging and full of vivid imagery that each one is hard to put down. If Catfish Had Nine Lives was no exception to that rule. Shelton gives readers a mix of history, mystery, romance and the culinary arts with this one. It's mouthwatering, intelligent and full of great characters, both alive and ghostly.
It sounds like there might be too much going on, but Shelton is a master at balancing all of her story elements. This book focuses on the remarkable story of the short lived Pony Express and the daring men and women who were determined to make a change in the way people received their mail. I loved the character of Joe, the ghostly Pony Express rider and his need to deliver the last three letters in his possession at the time of his death. Shelton quickly endears readers to Joe's character with her flare for the dramatic and research skills. It was obvious that she cared about this story and it comes across in the writing. And Cowboy Poetry totally rocks!
As usual I loved Betts and Gram and the culinary elements in the story. After reading about cooking catfish in an iron skillet over an open fire, I find myself wanting to try some cowboy style cooking myself. It is a hallmark of a great author when they are able to encourage or interest a reader is taking their reading experience beyond the book. Shelton does that in just about everyone one of her stories. Not only do I want to cook some catfish, but I want to read more about the Old West. Shelton's ghosts of the past are just that intriguing.
The relationship that is developing between Betts and her ghostly protector Jerome has become one of my favorite parts of this series. It's a relationship that on the outside may seem impossible, but Shelton is slowly but surely making a believer out of me. I think that added touch of romance is one of the things that tips the scale with this series and takes it from good to great. I can't wait to see where she takes this part of the story!
The mystery in the story involving Betts brother Teddy and the death of one of the actors during a stage gunfight was also interesting and full of surprises. I thought I had it figured out a couple of times but I was wrong. Shelton kept me guessing right up until the end. The only person I could really count out as the killer, was the accused. LOL. I thought Shelton dropped just enough clues to keep the reader interested throughout, but not too many, as to give it all away.
What I didn't like:
I liked everything about this story, from the cooking, to the mystery, to laying the ghosts to rest. It was thoughtful, inventive and original. I can't complain when a book is thought provoking enough to make me want to do my own research. That's a rarity!
This is the kind of cozy I want to read. It has historical background, paranormal elements and has the kind of originality that many cozy writers will envy. If you like history and mystery, this is the book for you! It's a great balancing act of all the things that make a good novel. I can't recommend it enough.
If Catfish Had Nine Lives is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
Check out the quote from Debbie's Book Bag on the cover of this one! Soooo excited about that!
About the Author:
Paige Shelton is also the author of the national bestselling Farmers’ Market Mysteries. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband and son. When she’s up early enough, one of her favorite things is to watch the sun rise over the Wasatch Mountains.
The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of If Catfish Had Nine Lives by Paige Shelton.
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~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, August 20th.
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