cover image The Golden Spoon

The Golden Spoon

Jessa Maxwell. Atria, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-1-6680-0800-3

Byzantine chicanery seasoned with a dash of revenge greets six contestants gathered for Bake Week on the property of a crumbling Vermont manse, in Maxwell’s outstanding debut. Tantalizing backstage backstories include those of an ex-journalist from Brooklyn, a pie prodigy from Minnesota, a Bronx math teacher, a wealthy former CEO tech from Boston, a retired Rhode Island registered nurse, and a restorer of old buildings from New Hampshire. Hosting the competition’s 10th season is the heir to the manor, Betsy Martin, joined for the first time by an award-winning baker, Archie Morris, along with regular lead coordinator, Melanie Blair. Sabotage starts slow but early. A refrigerator door is left open; salt is replaced with sugar; a burner is turned up to high; gasoline replaces orange essence in a pie. By day three, it’s clear someone isn’t playing by the rules laid out in a “behemoth spiralbound packet.” Everything escalates to an extremely dark and stormy night (including a blackout), leading to startling revelations and a jaw-dropping confession. Sweet and savory turns deadly sour in this fast-paced, entertaining romp scheduled for a Hulu miniseries. Maxwell is off to a great start. Agent: Alexandra Machinist, ICM Partners. (Apr.)