Friday, October 20, 2006

A Peach of a Murder - Livia J. Washburn



A Peach of a Murder
A Fresh-Baked Mystery
Livia J. Washburn
Signet

Mystery/Cozy

Phyllis Newsom, a retired schoolteacher, looks forward every year to the local Parker County Peach Festival. Everyone in the area agrees that Parker County peaches are the best peaches to be had. And the highlight of the festival is the cooking contest. This year, Phyllis is toying with recipes for a spicy peach cobbler that she’s sure will finally secure her the coveted blue ribbon. For the past two years, her friend Carolyn Wilbarger has taken the blue ribbon. Although the ladies live together in Phyllis’ home, along with two other retired teachers, they’re very competitive when it comes to the festival.

As the contest nears, Phyllis gathers peaches from Newt Bishop’s orchard. He’s not a terribly nice man, but he grows excellent peaches. And Phyllis is horrified when she hears screams and finds him in the barn, crushed under his car. At first, it appears the car simply slipped off the jack, but recent events might indicate otherwise. Just over that shock, on the very day of the contest, one of the judges literally drops dead in the middle of the contest. Unfortunately for Phyllis, he dies immediately after sampling her spicy peach cobbler. Although she is quickly cleared, she can’t help but look into these suspicious deaths.

This is the beginning of what promises to be a very entertaining series. The setting is a charming small town, peopled with realistic characters. Even though she’s investigating, Phyllis does not remain unmoved by the deaths and other events. She, like everyone else in town, is affected, making her very sympathetic. The mystery is involving and contains a few unexpected twists. Rounding out the experience are some very tasty-looking recipes, including Phyllis’ spiced peach cobbler. I’ll be looking forward to more in this series.

Rating: 7
October 2006
ISBN# 0-451-21974-0 (paperback)

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