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Book Review | The Golden Spoon — Jessa Maxwell

From the publisher: A killer is on the loose when someone turns up dead on the set of a hit TV baking competition in this darkly beguiling debut mystery.

I gobbled up The Golden Spoon in one afternoon. A cast of characters assembles for Bake Week, a long-running reality TV show that challenges six chefs to make desserts. The current season’s cast includes a former journalist running from a trauma at her last job; a young prodigy from Minnesota who bakes pies for the local diner; a precise, detail-oriented math teacher from New York; a bored millionaire former CEO of a tech startup; a retired nurse who specializes in traditional recipes; and a hobbyist baker whose day job is restoring old buildings. The characters weren’t as distinct as I would have liked, but they are a diverse cast.

The six contestants gather at the palatial home of America’s Grandmother, Betsy Martin, who started the show and has been judging it for nine years. Much to her annoyance, joining her this season is the host of a cutthroat cooking show, Archie Morris, who is fighting off middle age but still a smooth charmer.

The Golden Spoon is not about the mystery, many aspects of which I guessed long before they were revealed. It’s about the show. I don’t watch reality TV, and I have to guess this book will appeal even more to people who understand the baking terms and how challenging some of the desserts are to make. I do love dessert, and this book made my mouth water.

Although a prologue tells the reader someone is dead, two weeks of activity take place before we return to the crime. There are current mysteries, and a mystery from long ago. The Golden Spoon is a frothy dessert, full of sweets, friendship, and found families. Is this a great book? No. Is this a fun read? Yes. Unlike the book’s publicity, I personally would not put it in the same category as books by Anthony Horowitz and Richard Osman, but a TV series is in development, and with the right cast it will probably be terrific. I read a print advance reader copy.

This debut novel is available at the Galesburg Public Library in print, in audiobook, and as an ebook.

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