*** Now available in paperback!

A Fresh-Baked Mystery

By Livia J. Washburn

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., November, 2013 ($7.99)

ISBN-13: 978-0-451-41478-6

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

Weatherford, Texas. Phyllis Newsom is in jail for, once again, interfering with a police investigation. But what could she do? Her best friend is accused of murder, and the police aren't considering any other suspects.

When Phyllis's husband died, she was lonely, rattling around in her big old house. A friend suggested she rent out her spare bedrooms to other retired teachers, and the decision brought her both monetary security and new friends who became as close as family. With Sam, she'd even found a bit of romance as well as a great tenant and handyman. Now one of those friends, Eve, is getting married, and Phyllis and the other housemates Carolyn and Sam, are both happy for her and sad to see her go.

After an apparently happy honeymoon, Eve and her new hubby Roy return home and settle into a bed-and-breakfast in the country a few miles from Weatherford, planning to find a permanent home ASAP. Before that can happen, Roy is murdered, and the new bride is the obvious suspect.

Phyllis has to wonder if she is cursed. She seems to attract corpses like garbage attracts flies, through no fault of her own. She also seems to be blessed with crime solving mojo, with a perfect record of finding the killers when the police can't. She is the Jessica Fletcher of small-town Texas, and while she's not happy about it, she has to once again use her skills to clear Eve's name.

This is the seventh Fresh-Baked mystery, full of small-town flavor, complete with recipes. While following a familiar formula, the characters are engaging and the mystery is well-plotted, making it a fun read.

This review is based on the hardcover edition.

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