From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Distinctive characters and a clever cooking background make Haines's 10th Sarah Booth Delaney mystery (after 2009's Greedy Bones) the best yet in this Southern cozy series. Sarah Booth, who's seeking solace after a miscarriage, and her best friend and fellow PI, Tinkie Bellecase Richmond, come to Greenwood, Miss., to attend classes at the Viking Cooking School, but soon get involved in a beauty contest/cook-off and mayhem. The trouble begins when contestant Karrie Kompton bites into a chocolate-covered cockroach. Next, Babs Lafitte falls to the stage and goes into convulsions. After Brook Oniada suffers fatal burns during her flaming baton routine and Janet Menton dies after eating poisoned pastry, suspicion falls on Janet's roommate, Hedy Lamarr Blackledge, who hires Sarah and Tinkie to clear her name. Sarah's ever-entertaining ghost companion, Jitty, provides support as Sarah winds up finding the crazed beauty contest gone bad a blessing in disguise.
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Deeply depressed by the loss of her unborn child, Sarah Booth Delaney agrees to leave her plantation home, Dahlia House, and attend the Viking Cooking School with her best friend, Tinkie, in an effort to begin to heal. They arrive at the beginning of the Miss Viking Beauty Contest and Spokesperson Competition and add the pageant events to their schedule. But the pageant is disrupted when contestants are killed. Hedy Lamarr Blackledge, a contestant considered the prime suspect in the murders, asks Sarah and Tinkie, owners of the Delaney Detective Agency, to investigate. When Sarah hesitates to accept the case, Tinkie manipulates her into agreeing, a decision that leads to grave consequences. Assisted by Dahlia House’s resident ghost, Jitty, Sarah is drawn into the case and begins to recover from her loss. Details of life in the South, beauty pageants, and cooking are woven throughout the story, which will appeal to readers who enjoyed Sarah Shankman’s She Walks in Beauty (1992), also set at a beauty pageant. --Sue OBrien