If Fried Chicken Could Fly by Paige Shelton is the first book in the new “Country Cooking School” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime (Penguin), January 2012

Isabelle “Betts” Winston loves teaching the secrets of mouthwatering country food in her hometown, Broken Rope, Missouri—famous for its past of outlaws, knife battles, and hangings. But now an all-too-current murder threatens the start of tourist season.

At Gram’s Country Cooking School, Betts and Gram are helping students prepare the perfect dishes for the Southern Missouri Showdown, the cook-off that draws lots of summer visitors. Then they discover the body of local theater owner Everett Morningside in the school’s supply room—and Everett’s widow points the finger at Gram.

Betts must clear Gram’s name and keep the cook-off preparations on schedule—all while worrying about a mysterious cowboy only she seems to be able to see. And after shots are fired at her, Betts has to dig deep into Broken Rope’s history to find the modern-day killer—before the last wing is served.

I like this book. When Betts and her grandmother find a dead body in their school’s supply closet, it doesn’t look good for Grams when she becomes the primary suspect. To save Gram’s reputation, Betts and Jerome will have to find a killer before Grams becomes dead meat. This was an enjoyable read that kept me going until the last sentence. This well-designed tale of mystery had worthy suspects and I enjoyed watching Betts blend the clues from Jerome’s past memories to expose the killer before more harm was done. The small *old-west* town atmosphere; the casual conversations; and a charming cast makes this a delightful read in this wonderful and appealing debut series.

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