Meet Jake Swanson, best friend to Betts Winston, the protagonist of the Country Cooking School Mystery series.

Howdy. Come on in. Next show is in half an hour, but I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about Broken Rope, Missouri. My name is Jake Swanson and I’m the local sheriff – well, the fake sheriff. You’ve probably noticed that many of us are dressed like characters from the Old West – yeah, that’s hard to miss. If you stick around a bit, you’ll hear the poem I wrote for this year’s shows– it’s an ode to a starry night, a campfire, an old cowboy, and a mean rattler that wanted to ruin his day. I’m also the self-appointed town historian, so I probably know more about our past than anyone else around here. Ask me anything.

Ah, yes, actually, many of the stories are true. Broken Rope does have a history of strange and extraordinarily gruesome deaths as well as a long list of extra mean criminals. The hanging platform at the end of the street isn’t original, but that’s the spot the first well-used one and many thereafter stood. I’m afraid, though, that sometimes, back in the day, crimes weren’t always prosecuted with “innocent until proven guilty” in mind. Not something to be proud of, but our past is definitely chock full of colorful characters who lived and died by their wits or perhaps by the trigger of a gun. We’ll have stories to tell for a long, long time.

What’s that? Yes, in fact we do have a cooking school in town. Gram’s Country Cooking School is run by Missouri Anna Winston and her granddaughter Isabelle – or Betts. Betts and I have been best friends since high school, so I’m privy to some of the school’s home cooking secrets, though Miz would tan my hide twice for good measure if I gave any of them away. The school’s in an old church building just on the edge of town. It’s a quick drive if you want to have a look-see.

Yes, that’s right, it is next to a cemetery where a few of our more interesting historical characters are buried. Jerome Cowbender is there, so is Sally Swarthmore. Yep, Jerome was the bank robber who couldn’t shoot straight, and Sally’s the one who axed her parents to death. Yes, horrible, but . . . well, interesting. There’s a whole show about Sally down at the old courthouse. If you haven’t caught it yet, I recommend you do.

Uh-huh. Oh, that rumor? Well, I’ve never seen a ghost myself. I would have to speculate that if we do have any specters lurking around I should surely be the one they want to communicate with – I do know their history better than anyone, after all. But, I suppose, those sorts of things aren’t always fair, are they? Anyway, maybe we do have ghosts, maybe we’re just set up so that we can’t quite let go of what we used to be. Maybe our past is so big that it sometimes jumps right into the present and has to show itself. Well . . . shoot, that’s probably just me being a silly sentimental and all.

Ah, no matter, welcome to Broken Rope, and we can’t wait to share our stories with you.

You can read more about Jake in If Mashed Potatoes Could Dance, the second book in the “Country Cooking School” mystery series. The first book in the series is If Fried Chicken Could Fly.

** Thanks to the publisher, I have one (1) copy of IF MASHED POTATOES COULD DANCE to give away. Contest open to US residents only. Contest ends October 25. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. The book will be shipped directly from the publisher. **

Meet the author
Paige Shelton is the national bestselling author of the Farmers’ Market Mysteries and the Country Cooking School Mysteries. She grew up in the Midwest but moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, after college. Paige enjoys reading, listening to music from the 80s, and watching way too many zombie movies with her husband and son.

Visit Paige at her website, Twitter or on Facebook.

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

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