Cub reporter Emerald Malloy is assigned to gather “church food” recipes from the owner of Hot Dish Heaven, a café in a small town in the Red River Valley. Upon her arrival, she learns of a local unsolved murder. Confident that solving the case will catapult her from newspaper “gopher” to investigative reporter, she questions the locals while attending a benefit dinner-dance at the VFW. By the end of the night, she’s consumed lots of hot dish and bars while talking to everyone from the Irish-Catholic priest who lives among these Scandinavian Lutheran farmers to the café owner’s eccentric aunts. She also meets a hunky deputy sheriff and learns some tough lessons about herself. But the question remains, will she live long enough for any of it to matter?