Friday, December 18, 2020

FOODFIC: Please Welcome M.W. Craven, Author of The Puppet Show

It had never been my intention to give food such prominence in the Poe and Tilly books, and even when it happened, it kind of happened organically. Poe eats what he wants, when he wants, mainly sausages and black pudding and Tilly has been a vegan since she was thirteen. Having them eat a meal together, or discuss (let’s not pretend; they argue) Poe’s diet allows me to a) showcase the very different personalities of my two leads without hammering the reader over the head with it, b) inject human moments into what can occasionally be quite dark books and c) add some humour.

Before they could leave, Poe had to navigate his way through their ongoing discussion about his diet. This one was about wholemeal bread, specifically Poe’s refusal to eat it.

‘Life’s too short to not eat white bread, Tilly,’ he said as he reached for the last piece of toast. He slathered it with salted butter and took a bite.

‘You keep saying that, Poe,’ she said. ‘But all you’re doing is stacking up problems for tomorrow.’

He held it up. ‘It’s one bit of toast.’

‘That is one bit of toast, Poe. But so were the other seven bits you’ve eaten.’ 

Of course in Black Summer, the second Poe novel, food became one of the central themes as the novel involves a murder that may or may not have taken place in a Michelin-starred restaurant. The juxtaposition between Poe’s usual diet and that of the food prepared in the restaurant was great fun to write. One scene popular with readers sees Poe and Tilly eat a seventeen-course taster menu and I think this little snippet sums it up quite well:

A succession of small but delicate dishes followed, each one more complex than the previous. A sea urchin that Poe felt sorry for was served in its own shell. It had the texture of set custard with the briny taste of fresh oyster. Every time he took a bite, Bradshaw said, ‘Yuk’.

But it’s not just with Tilly that Poe discusses food. This bit is taken from The Botanist, out June 2022, and sees Poe holed up with someone he can barely tolerate:

‘It’s not all bad news though,’ Poe said. ‘I’m treating everyone to a nose-to-tail goat later. There’s a Moroccan place nearby that dry rubs a whole one with five types of chillies before it’s basted in its own fat for twenty-four hours. Comes with the works: preserved lemons, toasted almonds, the lot. If you stop moaning you can have one of the eyeballs.’

‘You’re disgusting,’ Salt said.

Of course it’s not just Poe who gets all the amusing lines when it comes to food, as this fragment from The Puppet Show demonstrates. Here Poe and Tilly are meeting with the Bishop of Carlisle:

Ordinarily Poe would have declined but he wanted to keep it informal. ‘I’ll have a coffee please, if that’s OK? Tilly?’

‘Do you have any fruit tea, Nicholas?’

‘I believe Mrs Oldwater enjoys a cup of liquorice tea every now and then. Will that do?’

Bradshaw shook her head, ‘No thank you, Nicholas, liquorice gives me diarrhoea.’

Anyway, I’m off to eat a bacon sandwich . . .

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Mike!

You can find Mike here:

Twitter @MWCravenUK

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Friday, December 11, 2020

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Brenda Drake, Author of Analiese Rising

Certain scents, places, and foods can remind us of our loved ones who have passed away. In Analiese Rising, Analiese and her brother go to the same coffee house they’d visited with their father for years. Their father had recently died and, whenever they’re in the area, they stop in and have a coffee together in honor of him. She remembers their first time there and how it started with her and her brother getting hot chocolates and how they graduated to coffee now that they’re in their teens. 

The coffee house holds many warm memories for Analiese. The gradual change from hot chocolate to coffee reveals her growth from a child to a young adult. There was once joy in going to the coffee house with her father and brother. And now, it’s only a ritual. One they haven’t broken since he died, but one that brings a sadness and yet a warmth to her. 

Analiese’s real parents died when she was a baby, and the only father she ever knew was her uncle. Their relationship was perfect to her, he was perfect. But one day, on the way to the coffee house, an accident happens in front of it that sets off a crumbling of her belief in who her father was and her true identity. The coffee shop disappears as that safety place for her. It becomes the jumping off place of all her fears. 

We remember many special things from when we were children. Sometimes the further we grow away from them, the more special they become. And sometimes, the distance of our past can cause us to forget. Growing up and losing our special moments that only our childhood can give us, seems inevitable. It’s a rite of passage we all must take even if we don’t want to.  

At this time of year, during the holiday season, I’m more reminiscent of old family traditions. I used to be sad that they were no longer the same. No longer as magical as I remember them. It wasn’t until I started my own family and my own traditions, adding many from my youth, that I realized I can give my children the memories I was so lucky to have and pass it on. 

What old traditions do you miss? What new ones have you started with your family?

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Brenda!

You can find Brenda here:

Twitter @BrendaDrake

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Friday, December 4, 2020

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Rosanne Dingli, Author of How to Disappear

When ice cream is more than just ice cream

A number of objects, themes and settings can be used in fiction to ground the action; to make it real. Characters seem to spring to life when they dance and run, embrace or cry; but little adds subtle weight to a story better than food and drink. The way the hero of the piece holds a fork; the way his rival points his knife, and crams chips into his mouth, dripping with sauce or mayonnaise.

We have read of a princess daintily spooning crème brûlée into pursed lips while thinking of her figure. We have watched children greedily tuck into filled rolls after a swim, dangling feet off a jetty and smiling through lettuce, cheese and tomato. We have nodded as we recognize the lunchtime hunger of high school students standing in a canteen line and eyeing dreary mashed potato, grey peas and watery stew. We have read of a portly parish priest waiting at a stained tablecloth for his meagre lamb chop and claret, while jealously thinking of the mayor and a large poached salmon, two doors down the high street.

In my novel How to Disappear, which is written in lyrical repetitive language used to express the tone and mood of the female protagonist’s situation, I try to express longing, or boredom, or happiness, or grief through food. It also jogs readers’ memories about food and the roles it played in their young lives. The emotional episodes of my youth and childhood were all accompanied by food. There was the miserly thin meat of school dinners, the generosity of grandparents and their trifle and roast pork. There was the clumsy attempt at baking a first cake, poorly iced but so delicious, and the boiled eggs and toast fingers of the sick bed. And how could I forget the struggle of learning to eat spaghetti?

The challenge in my novel is to make it as subtle as I can, to portray the waking emotions of a woman too long stifled and suppressed by the people she thought loved her. Here is an excerpt taken from the first section of this two-part novel:

She watched him eat two hamburgers, grasping them like they were alive, like they would escape if he loosened those spatulate fingers. Flattened fingernails. Tinged a kind of mauve underneath broad ridged nails. Rolled up sleeves on his blue, blue shirt revealing sinewy muscles and hairs bleached and bristly. Working jaw, chewing, square, what her friend Thelma might label strong and scary. He could be an axe murderer, she’d said.

‘I told … I said I was taking the coach. Except to Thelma. I told Thelma I’d met you again.’

Raised his eyes. Oh. Dark, dark brown in here out of the sun. ‘Again?’

‘Since school and all that.’

Laughed. ‘All that you hardly remember.’


Wiped his mouth in long drags, side to side, with a paper napkin folded into a strip, a horizontal thing, left to right, right to left. Taking a deep breath, smiling hugely. ‘That hit the spot.’ Drinking tea like it was necessary. ‘Do you want more tea?’

She nodded.

‘And something from … A cake, or something?’

Oh. Wanting, needing, wanting to enjoy this properly. ‘Ice cream. Let’s have ice cream.’

‘Now, Selby-Brixham-Bec-Winmarley, now go ahead and enjoy this properly then.’

How did he know? Walked over to the counter. Watched the girl pile three differently-coloured scoops into a fluted ice-cream dish. ‘Do you want nuts or sprinkles with that?’

Morgue calling from the table. ‘Both! Both!’

It was a holiday. She didn’t know, three days ago, that she wanted a holiday. Had not even wished for one. And here she was, dipping, dipping a spoon, taking turns with two spoons. Laughing. Scooping up green, cream, pink ice cream tasting of real cream, country cream. Avoiding the nuts in the dish. Sharing ice cream. With two spoons. Never done before.

‘You don’t like nuts.’ Not a question, but a mental note taken. He would remember, like he remembered her graduation ball gown.

‘Are we on holiday?’ Shaking, lowering her head and smiling. ‘I must be crazy.’

‘You are. You left town with this guy you hardly remember from school. Just like that.’ Broad smile. 

That hot tea, those hamburgers, the ice cream, those nuts; they frame the action and are more than mere props. There is meaning, emotional meaning, in their invention. Although a writer rarely stops to think too much about the food placed in a story, it is intuitively chosen for its suggestions, its hints. It is emotional, communicative, suggestive of the feelings floating around the characters as they play out the complications. We call the complications plot, we call the food and utensils, the plates and cutlery props, but a good writer knows they are more than that. They are carriers of mood, emotion and meaning, and they travel from writer to reader like the scent of herbs and garlic, or of caramel, lemons, and vanilla. Food is introduced and served a number of times through the narrative, and it always carries the weight of meaningfulness.

Enjoy the next course by finding this novel on Amazon and eating and drinking with the protagonist on her adventure.

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Rosanne!

You can find Rosanne here:

Friday, November 27, 2020

FOODFIC: Gobble, Gobble!

What are you gobbling up this Thanksgiving break?

As most of you know, I will read anything. I have been known to wander around the library and pick up any books that start with the letter X, or perhaps everything with a silver cover...whatever calls my name on that particular day. ;)

For this Thanksgiving break, I Googled "turkey" and these were the top 4 fiction matches, thus my reading menu for these 4 days at home:

The year is 1546.

Europe lives in fear of the powerful Islamic empire to the East. Under its charismatic Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent, it is an empire on the rise. It has defeated Christian fleets. It has conquered Christian cities.

Then the Sultan sends out an invitation to every king in Europe: send forth your champion to compete in a tournament unlike any other.

We follow the English delegation, selected by King Henry VIII himself, to the glittering city of Constantinople, where the most amazing tournament ever staged will take place.

But when the stakes are this high, not everyone plays fair, and for our team of plucky English heroes, winning may not be the primary goal. As a series of barbaric murders take place, a more immediate goal might simply be staying alive…

In an old mansion in Cennethisar (formerly a fishing village, now a posh resort near Istanbul) the old widow Fatma awaits the annual summer visit of her grandchildren: Faruk, a dissipated failed historian; his sensitive leftist sister, Nilgun; and the younger grandson, Metin, a high school student drawn to the fast life of the nouveaux riches, who dreams of going to America. The widow has lived in the village for decades, ever since her husband, an idealistic young doctor, first arrived to serve the poor fishermen. Now mostly bedridden, she is attended by her faithful servant Recep, a dwarf--and the doctor's illegitimate son. Mistress and servant share memories, and grievances, of those early years. But it is Recep's cousin Hassan, a high school dropout, and fervent right-wing nationalist, who will draw the visiting family into the growing political cataclysm, in this spell-binding novel depicting Turkey's tumultuous century-long struggle for modernity.

When Orhan’s brilliant and eccentric grandfather Kemal—a man who built a dynasty out of making kilim rugs—is found dead, submerged in a vat of dye, Orhan inherits the decades-old business. But Kemal’s will raises more questions than it answers. He has left the family estate to a stranger thousands of miles away, an aging woman in an Armenian retirement home in Los Angeles. Her existence and secrecy about her past only deepen the mystery of why Orhan’s grandfather willed his home in Turkey to an unknown woman rather than to his own son or grandson.

Left with only Kemal’s ancient sketchbook and intent on righting this injustice, Orhan boards a plane to Los Angeles. There he will not only unearth the story that eighty-seven-year-old Seda so closely guards but discover that Seda’s past now threatens to unravel his future. Her story, if told, has the power to undo the legacy upon which his family has been built. 

Moving back and forth in time, between the last years of the Ottoman Empire and the 1990s, Orhan’s Inheritance is a story of passionate love, unspeakable horrors, incredible resilience, and the hidden stories that can haunt a family for generations.

In her second novel written in English, Elif Shafak confronts her country’s violent past in a vivid and colorful tale set in both Turkey and the United States. At its center is the “bastard” of the title, Asya, a nineteen-year-old woman who loves Johnny Cash and the French Existentialists, and the four sisters of the Kazanci family who all live together in an extended household in Istanbul: Zehila, the zestful, headstrong youngest sister who runs a tattoo parlor and is Asya’s mother; Banu, who has newly discovered herself as a clairvoyant; Cevriye, a widowed high school teacher; and Feride, a hypochondriac obsessed with impending disaster. Their one estranged brother lives in Arizona with his wife and her Armenian daughter, Armanoush. When Armanoush secretly flies to Istanbul in search of her identity, she finds the Kazanci sisters and becomes fast friends with Asya. A secret is uncovered that links the two families and ties them to the 1915 Armenian deportations and massacres. Full of vigorous, unforgettable female characters, The Bastard of Istanbul is a bold, powerful tale that will confirm Shafak as a rising star of international fiction.

If you choose to join me in gobbling up one (or more!) of these reads, please leave your review in the comments. :)

Friday, November 20, 2020

FOODFACT: Please Welcome Kerrie Droban, Author of Prodigal Father, Pagan Son

Prodigal Father, Pagan Son: Growing up in the Dangerous World of the Pagans Motorcycle Club, by Kerrie Droban, is a two-time winner of the USA News National Book Award for Best Memoir/Autobiography and Best True Crime. Set in the working class neighborhood of Upper Darby, Philadelphia, one block south of Linden Avenue, Anthony’s life was ruled by the Pagans Motorcycle Club, a group once closely associated with La Cosa Nostra and described in the media as “the fiercest of the outlaw biker gangs.”   

As the son of the Pagan’s most notorious power broker, Anthony was born into the shocking and hypnotic underworld of organized crime and, after his father betrayed the Pagans to join its rival, the Hells Angels, Anthony was recruited by his father’s nemesis to murder him.  While navigating the violent inner workings of the Club and his own survival, Anthony took time to cool off with some simple Philadelphia staples like “Water ice” (pronounced “wooder ice”), the city’s version of Italian Ice, and “Little Debbie’s” “Nutty Buddy Bars.” Other guilty pleasures included Entenmanns pastries and multi-layered ‘Moon Pies” with the fluffy marshmallow centers. Juicy cheesesteak sandwiches smothered with Cheese Whiz on a crusty roll were also regulars in Anthony’s diet in addition to meat packed hoagies, fried bologna sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly and soft, salty pretzels dipped in mustard from the local street vendor. But more commonly, as he met with club members, he shared camaraderie over large “tomato pies” made with thick, focaccia-like dough, fresh tomato sauce and grated Parmesan or oregano. 

Philadelphia’s traditional food classics were the perfect palate cleanser to the graphic violence depicted in Prodigal Father, Pagan Son effectively transporting the reader into Anthony’s brutal reality. More of Philadelphia’s underworld and Kerrie Droban’s reporting can be seen in the series, Homicide City, on Investigation ID, episodes 8 & 10, November 10 and 24 at 9:00PM EST.  For the full, 4-D experience, might want to order a hoagie and stock up on Cheese Whiz. 

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Kerrie!

You can find Kerrie here:

Thursday, November 12, 2020

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Keith Dixon, Author of The Two Fathers

Sam Dyke – international gourmet!

You know what private investigators are like – they’re forever sitting in cars, watching a suspect, eating a burger or a KFC and peeing into a bottle …

Okay, that was probably too much information.

In fact, I’m not sure it’s like that at all these days. Or ever. In fact, the first time I became aware of food in the context of private eye novels was in the Spenser books of Robert B. Parker. Spenser would return from a day’s work being funny with clients and bad guys, reach into the fridge and pull out the exact ingredients needed to make a fascinating and little-known Italian dish. Or an incredible salad with a vinaigrette that he made himself while talking to his dog, Pearl. He was a sophisticated man who was named after an English poet and in fact often quoted poetry himself. I don’t recall him ever peeing in a bottle.

This series began in the 1970s, and when I caught up with Parker’s early novels ten years later, it wasn’t long before I started seeing other writers doing a similar thing with their own protagonists – Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole, for example, would whip up something quickly in his kitchen … and often we wouldn’t know until the end whether he was going to eat it himself or give it to his cat.

These PIs were obviously sophisticated above their station in life, but when I started writing my own series, set around a working class investigator whose clients usually came from the posh end of town, I wanted to include food occasionally (a PI has to eat, after all) together with a singular musical taste, which had been another genre-defining trope that was growing at the time. (Turns out Sam is into Who knew?)

So Sam Dyke is a working-class man with the appropriate tastes for a British Private Eye: we see him making chili con carne, buying take-out curries from Indian restaurants and occasionally throwing together a quick spaghetti Bolognese. Writing that down, I realise they’re all foreign dishes, but in the UK we moved away from eating Sunday roasts every day (though I probably would if I could) and in the 70s broadened our tastes. Over the course of the ten full-length novels so far, Sam has experimented occasionally—when he’s dined out with a client or colleague—but the meals that are comfort foods for him are those he knew when he was growing up in the 1990s, although like many of us, if he’s out on a job he’ll buy a burger (another foreign food …) or perhaps a sandwich, which he’ll wash down with a Sprite or 7-Up. In the latest book, The Two Fathers, he eats far too much bread and take-away than is good for his health, but I can’t seem to talk any sense into him.

From the very first book in the series, Altered Life, I’ve had to constantly bear in mind that the characters I’ve dreamed up are actual physical beings with attendant needs. In fact, finding time for them to eat and sleep and bathe is a nuisance when you just want to get on with the story. You try to slide past these needs when possible, but without making your characters seem superhuman. Personally, I can’t seem to last more than two hours without eating something, so I don’t know how Sam does it … maybe that’s why he’s slimmer than I am.

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Keith!

You can find Keith here:

Twitter @KeithyD6

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Friday, October 23, 2020

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Rebekkah Ford, Author of Legends of Deceit

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry.

Festival food is the best in my honest opinion. 

I love fried bread with melted butter, covered in cinnamon sugar. 

It launches me into a state of instant joy and giddiness. 

Then we have the delightful artery-clogging, mouthwatering, pastries filled with cream cheese and a gelatinous goo of berries that will send your dopamine’s soaring to new realms of ecstasy. 

The aroma of barbecue meat loaded with sodium and corn syrup is wafting in the air, tickling your senses. 

While moving through the high-spirited crowd, the smell of sticky, sweet caramel corn and cotton candy promises moments of pure pleasure and possibly hours of gastrointestinal discomfort. 

But you don’t care because it’s only for one day.  

Besides, you have a 50% chance you’ll be fine. 

No worries.

You give in to hedonism. 

You indulge and brace yourself for possible extra toilet time that night and popping artificial-flavored Tums into your mouth to cure the raw burning indigestion that has you white-knuckling the counter as you grit your teeth through the pain. 

But you push those thoughts aside. 

Be gone negative thoughts. 

You don’t need to be manifesting that into your life. 

It’s all good.

Alaris in Legends of Deceit is a reluctant heroine thrust into a magical world of nobility, deceit, werewolves, fairies, and insidious trolls. 

She is also friends with a dragon.

Alaris discovers she is a princess in a realm close to earth but doesn’t want any part of it. 

She wants to go back to her normal life in college back on earth, but she can’t. 

Her dad is the king of Atheon and throws her a huge party so the people in the kingdom can get to know her. 

Narik, who is one of the warriors protecting her, escorts her to this festival-type event. 

She spots a tall, blue-skinned woman in the crowd. 

Her movements are fluid and graceful like a ballerina.

          “What is she?” Alaris asks Narik

          “She’s a nereid. Her name is Oona.”

          “What’s a nereid?”

          “A sea nymph. They’re friendly and helpful people.”

There are elves, dwarves, goblins, and fairies in the mix. 

Celtic music plays in the background as Alaris navigates the crowd and checks out the food vendors. 

The sign on one advertises steak hoagies, hot sausage, hamburgers, French fries, and . . . 

          “Fish on a stick. Raw and still breathing for your enjoyment.” Alaris wrinkles her nose at Narik.

          “It’s to cater to our aquatic friends,” Narik says. “And then we have the bloody liver sandwich for the weres.” 

          “Yum. Yum.” She makes a face, and he laughs. “I think I’ll get a cheeseburger and fries.”

          “I’m going to order the hot sausage on a hard roll with fried onions and mustard.”

          “That sounds good, too, but I’ll stick to my all-American meal.” 

They get their food, go to a beer tent (you got to have a beer tent that not only serves fine ale but other alcoholic beverages as well) to get their drinks, and then sits at a table to enjoy their festival food.

Afterward, the music picks up to an upbeat Celtic tempo with flutes and fiddle. 

With their bellies blissfully full, the atmosphere flowing with laughter and happiness that only festival foods and drink can create, Alaris and Narik joins in on the fun and performs an Irish step dance.

To me, that would be the perfect day and night. 

I’m a health-conscious vegetarian (I sometimes eat fish, though); however, when it comes to festival foods, I will indulge myself and take the risk of experiencing unfavorable side effects. 

Why would I do that to myself?

Why not?

We all deserve a treat day once in a while, don’t you agree?

Just thinking about fried bread has me dreaming about it.

What is your favorite festival food?

My characters in my other books also love their treats and good eats. 

I think because I do. 

When you read one of my books, be prepared to be part of their experience when eating something sinfully yummy or drinking a delightful cocktail that was illegal during Prohibition.

You’ll enjoy yourself without the repercussions but will also want to manifest it into your world. Guaranteed. 


Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Rebekkah!

You can find Rebekkah here:

Twitter @RebekkahFord

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Friday, October 16, 2020

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Paul Flewitt, Author of Poor Jeffrey

Horror, at its heart, is the exploration of the darkness within mankind. It is an introspection on the evils that men do. It holds up a dark light on the human condition, and tells certain truths that are often hard to stomach. What it also does is break down taboos; those conversations that you only ever have between trusted friends in darkened rooms, with the curtains closed and doors locked, hoping and praying the following morning that nobody heard your midnight confessions and darkest fantasies. Horror tells you to look at this thing, this hideous article that man has done. Examine this thing and know it, search its entrails for subtle meanings. Grow to love this disgusting thing, because this thing could be you.

It’s important to understand all of the above before I get into the meat (pardon the pun) of this post. You have to understand that horror writers are observers. We are not bogeymen who wish to tear your heart out, nor do we attend midnight rituals where virgins are sacrificed on the altar of creativity and imagination … at least, none of the writers I know do that. It’s important for you to know that, despite writing with such delight when it comes to the following, I never have actually tasted human flesh.

“Why cannibalism? Why would you even think to write about that?”

Two questions often asked of me when Poor Jeffrey was released, most often by the more squeamish of readers. The answer is, because I don’t think that it has ever been done in the way I did it. Writers often make cannibals animals, driven by a bloodlust to consume human meat. Other times, the cannibal is arrogant and views other human beings as mere herd animals, ripe for slaughter and put on the earth as another food source to be hunted and consumed. Then there are the tribes of South America, who hunted and ate humans because they literally were just another food source in the jungle. They called the white man “long pig,” due to the similarity between the taste of human meat and porcine. There is, I found after some research, another motive for cannibals. This is the motive that I wanted to explore and found interesting.

Some cannibals imbibe human meat out of love. That sounds pretty perverse, doesn’t it? “I killed you and ate you because I love you.” Doesn’t quite ring true, does it? Let’s dig down into the logic of it though, before we make our judgements. The act of sexual intercourse is perhaps the closest we ever get to oneness with our partner, isn’t it? For a brief time, we become one organism conjoined at the loins and hearts. Our bodies move in rhythm to achieve climax, before laying in sweat and exhaustion, remaining there to prolong that feeling of oneness that we all crave. What if that oneness can be maintained forever? What if, in the act of consuming that person we love, we achieve true oneness? We keep them safe in our bellies where no one can rend and divide us, extracting their essence into ourselves forever. We truly become one entity. What if the act of consumption is really the ultimate act of love?

What if … That is the question that haunts every writer of dark fiction when they set the pen to the page. What scares us is that we sometimes find the answer to that question.

Eat well.

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Paul!

You can find Paul here:

Friday, October 9, 2020

9 (and 1/2) Year Blogiversary!


Another year (and a half), another full menu of tasty reads! 

The bright side of this crazy CoVid year is that quarantining gave us lots of time to read. :)

These deliciously creative authors stopped by to share their food for thought:

Stuart Aken - Blood Red Dust

Adam S. Barnett - The Judas Goat

Gordon Bickerstaff - Deadly Secrets

Lisa Black - That Darkness

Elizabeth Blake - Pride, Prejudice & Poison

Sandra Bolton - Key Witness

Laurie Boris - The Kitchen Brigade

Linda Bradley - Maggie's Way

Teyla Branton - The Change

Angela Britnell - The Wedding Reject Table

L.M. Bryski - Blood Chill

Carole Bumpus - Searching for Family and Traditions at the French Table, Books 1 and 2

Lucy Burdette - The Key Lime Crime

Jeri Cafesin - Disconnected

Yvette Calleiro - The One Discovered

Elaine Calloway - Windstorm

Julian Coleman - Cesar

Sue Coletta - Marred

Cheryl Colwell - The Proof

Brian Converse - Stone Soldiers

Doug Cooper - Bump Time

Carra Copelin - Katie and the Irish Texan

Marianne de Pierres - Burn Bright

Emily Deibler - Rabbit Heart

Lisa Doan - The Pennypackers Go On Vacation

Rebecca Enzor - Speak the Ocean

Janna Wong Healy - Let's Get Lost

Bo Kearns - Ashes in a Coconut

Eichin Chang Lim - The LoveLock

Emily Mah - Chasing Sunrise

Jessica Winters Mireles - Lost in Oaxaca

Luke Murphy - Rock-A-Bye Baby and Red Zone

Karen Pokras - Ava's Wishes

Rick Polad - Change of Address

Jan Ruth - Silver Rain

Elizabeth Schechter - The Rape of Persephone

Barbara Scoblic - Lost Without the River

T.L. Searle - Aquila

James Shipman - It Is Well

Angela Silverthorne - Cries of Mercy

Gina Tang - The Beijing Family

Jessica Tornese - Linked Through Time

Sweta Vikram - Louisiana Catch

Beem Weeks - Strange Hwy

June Winton - The Golden Horn

Louise Wise - Eden

Since I was fortunate enough  to have SO many delightful guests this year, I couldn’t squeeze in a single FoodFic musing of my own! However, below are some (I’m sure I’ve forgotten several) of the books I read over the past year that weren’t reviewed here at BWATE?

Eye of the God - Ariel Allison

The Darkest Minds, Never Fade, In the Afterlight, The Darkest Legacy - Alexandra Bracken

Eve, Once, Rise - Anna Carey

The Elite, The One, The Heir, The Crown - Kiera Cass

Dragon Teeth - Michael Crichton

The Passage - Justin Cronin

Into the Water - Paula Hawkins

Switch - Chip & Dan Heath

Memory of Water - Emmi Itaranta

The Water Cure - Sophie Mackintosh

Blossom Street Brides - Debbie Macomber

Where the Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens

Filthy Rich - James Patterson

Queen for a Day - Maxine Rosaler

This Savage Song - Victoria Schwab

The Cast - Danielle Steel

Bedchamber Games - Tracy Ann Warren

The Girls at 17 Swann Street - Yara Zgheib

As always, please feel free to suggest some great reads for me in the coming year. :)

Friday, October 2, 2020

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Lisa Doan, Author of The Pennypackers Go On Vacation

When food expectations go up in flames…

We’ve all been there. The buffet that was supposed to be piled high with shrimp and all you find is a heap of mayonnaise sprinkled with slivers of celery and tiny shrimp that came out of a can. The barbecue that was going to deliver all manner of meats, but somehow the steak and chops have eloped into the forest and you’re left with the last burned hot dog and a bag of chips.  The dinner party where you suspect, based on the roast that has been roasted by way of meteor, that the hosts had a major fight in the kitchen shortly before you arrived. Even the picture of a Big Mac at the order window and the resulting dripping mess are a bait and switch.

Sometimes, it’s your own fault. I once ordered crab dip at an Irish pub. Should I have been surprised that it was a crockery swimming with freezer-burned crab floating in a sauce that I believe was Campbell’s Cream of Potato soup? No, so that’s on me. Often, though, it’s not your fault. You had reasonable expectations. Or at least optimistic expectations and who can blame you for that?

Charlie Pennypacker’s hopes are raised high when he goes on a Disney cruise with his family. He assumes, as a matter of course, there will be mountains of jumbo shrimp and endless orange soda. He is particularly interested in the shrimp as it is a delicacy that has never crossed the Pennypacker’s threshold. Mr. Pennypacker holds the opinion that “One shrimp is affordable, but you need six and that’s how they get you on the price.” Unfortunately, Mr. Pennypacker has been pinching pennies on more than shrimp and the cruise he booked is an illegal knockoff. Disney buffet is out, Wisney Cruises fine dining is in, and Charlie’s expectations are about to go up in flames.

The chef is not a real chef and, like most young men thrown into a kitchen, he has a limited repertoire. Fried eggs, hard boiled eggs, egg salad, egg casserole or maybe just eggs in a pan and let’s see how they come out. In one ambitious moment, he manages to pull off hotdogs. It looked dicey at first, but he eventually figured out you have to take off the plastic wrapper first.

Still, shouldn’t Charlie forget about the food and just enjoy the experience? Shouldn’t we all? Shouldn’t we don a devil-may-care attitude and say, “I don’t care that the crab dip is an affront to crabs everywhere. I don’t care that this crab died for nothing. I don’t care that I have to gnaw through the freezer-burn. I’m socializing with my friends!”

Maybe we should, but I’m still thinking about that wretched crab dip and Charlie is still thinking about why he hates eggs so much.

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Lisa!

You can find Lisa here:

Twitter @LisaADoan

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Friday, September 18, 2020

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Emily Deibler, Author of Rabbit Heart

“What are you eating?” she asked Linda, her voice sounding strange and painfully new. Linda wore a purple blouse and cream skirt that reached her ankles; the blouse matched her lipstick, perfectly done and shining.

Linda paused and looked down at her food, as if she’d forgotten about it. “An omelet.” She stood and, before Rachel could protest, took the full plate at an empty seat and handed it to Rachel. The fat omelet made Rachel’s belly squirm in a way she wasn’t sure was hunger or nausea, or some gross knot of both.

“Can I eat in . . .” My room. “In the bedroom?”

Without missing a beat, Linda said, “Of course.” And led her there. Rachel should’ve added “alone,” so her meaning was clear.

Sitting on the bed’s edge, Rachel poked the fat omelet. Thankfully, it didn’t bite. “It smells . . .” Weird. “Okay, I guess.”

Linda smiled. “We try to excel at okay.”

In chapter ten of Rabbit Heart, Rachel wakes up in bed. After a traumatic event, she’s been unofficially adopted by two people who live in a cabin in the woods. The good news is that this is the first time in years she has a stable home and people who care about her well-being.

The bad news is that she’s in a Southern Gothic horror novel, and they’re serial killers with questionable tastes in food. Hannibal Lecters without the fava beans and chianti. Sadly, there aren’t as many peach cobblers on the pie rack like my grandmother would make.

That late morning, Linda, acting kind, offers Rachel an omelet to eat. Accepting food from a stranger is an act of trust. Rachel is immediately wary of Linda, and their talk over the meal outlines the main conflict: Rachel’s need for love versus her loyalty to her morals. She’s horrified at what Linda and Marcus have done, but their need to care for her, including making sure she eats, leads her to compromise her moral issues with killing others. While Rachel herself doesn’t hurt anyone on purpose, she ignores any suffering, so she may have a good home.

Often for families, a breakfast offers a moment of bonding and connection, which is what Rachel craves. “You are what you eat” might be taken to a more literal extreme in horror, but food offers us a moment to sit with others or insight into others’ traditions and cultures, which are shared with us.

In the end, Rachel receives inclusion, which impacts her on an emotional level. She accepts what she’s given to eat. The question is whether she continues to accept it as the years go by.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your food for thought, Emily!

You can find Emily here:

Twitter @EmilyDeibler

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Friday, September 11, 2020

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Carra Copelin, Author of The Texas Code Series

A Foodie Shares a few Faves

I’m a sixth generation Texan with my roots deeply embedded in the South. My great-great grandparents began arriving from Alabama and Tennessee around 1845 to Dallas and Bosque Counties, in Texas.

I don’t know if planning one’s life around food and meals is strictly a southern thing, but that’s the way it is in our family. In addition to the dinner tables being so laden with food that they needed sideboards, nearly each woman attending contributed her own special dish. For instance, at Christmas on my Mom’s side of the family, my cousin Bena Faith made the best cake donuts and a cake-like cookie made with sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips and coconut called Hello Dolly’s. My grandmother, Meme, fixed a pan of meatballs and spaghetti (that none of us can reproduce) and a Red Velvet Cake to die for. The rest of us filled in with salads, etc.

My grandmother, CarCarr, my Dad’s mother fixed the obligatory turkey and a Piggly Wiggly Picnic ham cooked in a brown paper sack. For this dinner, my mother would bring corn cut off the cob and baked with lots and lots of butter. We had peach cobbler, pound cake, and fudge candy, mashed potatoes, fried okra, and green beans.

I decided, with my Historical Romances, that the heroines have at least one dish or item they were expert at preparing. For instance, in my book, Katie and the Irish Texan, Katie’s biscuits would melt in your mouth. She also whipped up a fairly irresistible Irish stew. Her hero Dermot found he couldn’t survive without her cooking or her special charms.

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Carra!

You can find Carra here:

Twitter @CarraCopelin

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Thursday, September 3, 2020

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Marianne de Pierres, Author of Burn Bright

The best thing about writing SFF is the fact that you get to make stuff up. I mean, whatever you want, really, as long as it fits the mood, tone and logic. It’s one of things I love most about writing genre. Your imagination is your only limit.

When I was writing Burn Bright [aka The Night Creatures trilogy]and the sequels, I wanted to create a sense that food was really a heightened sensation like everything else on Ixion, and I mixed up inventing foods with the very familiar: like goo-berry pie, black linguine and pink sauce, streaky bacon and red chilli beans, sweet oatmeal and wisp bread, rolled meats and honey-drenched pastries.

‘The [wisp] bread melted on her tongue like buttery air.’

I have no idea what wisp bread or goo-berry pie are, but I’d love to taste them!

In the real world of food, I’m a sucker for crisp streaky bacon, and a knock over for pastries and cakes. My Covid 19 guilty pleasure has been watching all the cake piping channels on Instagram. It’s kind of mesmerising – the things you can do with frosting!

Once, years ago, I made a passionfruit flummery dessert with toffee shards. I have such a strong memory of the dish that the toffee shards turn up in just about everything I have written since.

So, food in fiction was all going deliciously for me and then a few years ago, I developed a gluten intolerance. Now when I write stories, I’m much more mindful of what people can eat. I take care to vary my characters diets. It’s added a new dimension to how I think about food in my stories. I’m writing a dark fantasy fiction novel right now and have introduced “thin-fish” and “ropey” cheese. So far, there is MUCH less wheat bread.

I also really love to explore what the physical terrain of my books can actually produce for its inhabitants. You can’t grow everything, everywhere, and it’s engrossing making the decisions that affect it. What is the soil like? Is there much water? What’s the life cycle of the plant/animal species? How do you preserve food here? The world building that underpins the food consumption can be as fascinating, as having your characters eat it.

There are some great food-a-licious books out there, but a couple of my favourites are  Kerry Greenwood’s Corinna Chapman series – she’s a sleuth and a baker; Livia Day’s Café la Femme novels. Go check the  out 😊 Bon Appetit!

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Marianne!

You can find Marianne here:

Twitter @mdepierres

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Friday, August 28, 2020

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Doug J. Cooper, Author of BUMP TIME

When Shelley asked me if I thought my new scifi time-travel series, Bump Time, would be a good fit in her creative blog, But What Are They Eating?, I laughed. Not because I thought the idea outlandish, but because one of my beta readers teases me about the role food plays in so many scenes in the series. Before I illustrate, here’s the blurb for Bump Time Origin, which explains the premise of the first book:

On his twenty-fifth birthday, Diesel Lagerford is visited by a twenty-six-year-old version of himself. His look-alike spins impossible tales of their shared future, claiming they have dozens of “brothers” from parallel timelines who can visit each other using a T-box, a machine they bankroll with lottery winnings. He introduces Diesel to the incredible Lilah Spencer, the T-box operator, and Diesel falls head-over-heels in love. But during his travels across timelines, Diesel learns that Lilah will soon die under suspicious circumstances. Devastated, he joins his brothers in a race to save her.

Food can provide a natural setting for all manner of activities, especially for someone like Diesel, who loves to eat. While I sometimes include food because it’s appropriate to a scene (it’s noon, so they eat lunch), other times I use it to move the story forward. Below, I show an example. In this scene, Diesel is about to make his first time-travel jump. While he nervously waits for his brother to arrive to show him how, Lilah surprises him with breakfast:

Diesel saw a light come on over on Lilah’s side of the connecting door. Moments later, she stepped through carrying a plate in one hand and a carafe of coffee in the other.

She set the plate in front of him—scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast—fetched the coffee mug from his desk, and poured him a cup of steaming hot brew. She poured one for herself, pulled over a chair, and sat. “Eat before it gets cold.”

Diesel didn’t see any utensils, so he used a piece of bacon to heap eggs onto a slice of toast, and then took a quick bite from the yellow mound before it spilled off. It tasted delicious.

That scene sets the stage. This scene a few pages later, after Diesel has departed, advances the plot:

Stacking the breakfast dishes, Lilah looked around for the utensils, realized she hadn’t brought any, and smiled. He hadn’t complained or even mentioned their absence, showing the easygoing attitude she treasured in her friends and lovers. Taking the last corner of toast off his plate, she popped it in her mouth and chewed slowly while she nurtured the idea of doing something special for his homecoming.

And while the Bump Time series has many scenes involving food, my other scifi saga, The Crystal Series, a futuristic space adventure, also features food, though to a lesser degree. For example, we learn something about Sid, a main character in the space opera, with this simple line:

Sid attacked his food like it was an adversary to be defeated.

So there you have it. Food in the age of time travel and space travel, with more to come! 

Thanks for hosting me, Shelley. It’s been great fun.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your food for thought, Doug!

You can find Doug here:

Twitter @DougJCooper

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

When he is not writing science fiction novels, Doug is professor emeritus of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Connecticut, and is founder and director of Control Station, Inc., a manufacturing plant optimization company. His passions include telling inventive tales, mentoring driven individuals, and everything sci-tech. He lives in Connecticut with his darling wife and with pictures of his son, who is off somewhere in the world creating adventures of his own.

Friday, August 21, 2020

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Back Carole Bumpus, Author of Searching for Family and Traditions at the French Table



Timing is everything. And, in my case, timing became a blessing! As I was preparing to test the traditional French recipes for my upcoming culinary travel memoir, Book Two of Searching for Family and Traditions at the French Table, a literal “shut-down,” due to the pandemic, arrived on my doorstep. The ability to go freely about shopping for ingredients at my favorite markets came to a halt, and I was faced with the prospect of an unmet deadline with my publisher. How was I going to get these nineteen recipes tested? No, my book is a memoir and not a cookbook, but I certainly wanted to provide accurate culinary directions to the recipes I provided.

Attempting not to panic, I wrote an SOS in my monthly newsletter, enlisting help from some of my followers, who were also sequestered at home. “Would you like to join me in my virtual test kitchen?” I wrote, not knowing if anyone would respond. But respond, they did. Within less than a week, I heard from over forty-five people, and sent out more than eighty copies of those nineteen traditional French recipes to be tested. 

Over the course of the next three months, there was a flurry of activity with masked Instacart and Uber drivers rushing heavily-sought-after ingredients back and forth from store to home. Bartering in grocery lines and trading up and down hallways was known to have taken place. I received notes, edits, and photos of completed recipes from as far away as England, France, and across the width and breadth of the U.S. All, like me, were under quarantine. And all, like me, struggled to find these simple, yet unique ingredients. And all, like me, realized that substitutions can be part of that creative force when it comes to cooking. 

As it turns out, traditional French recipes, better known as cuisine pauvre, or peasant dishes, are foods originally prepared from the simplest of ingredients—as long as they are available and seasonal. That is the norm. As this simple correlation dawned on me, I realized this experience was a blessing—it brought a better understanding and resonance to the very themes I hold dear in my culinary travel series: family favorites, traditional in nature. 

Within a few short months, all the recipes were tested and retested. Mission accomplished. I was able to compile the edits needed and accumulate photos of many finished dishes of which I featured in my newsletter. And most of all, I was able to add all of my virtual testers names to the Acknowledgement page in the back of my new book. Called Searching for Family and Traditions at the French Table, Book Two, it is due to be published August 18, 2020. Check it out, and bon appetit!

Thanks for stopping by to share more food for thought, Carole!

Photo by Chris Loomis

You can find Carole here:

Twitter @CaroleBumpus

Facebook Fan Page

Books on Amazon

Friday, July 24, 2020

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Back Luke Murphy, Author of Red Zone

Sandwich Guy

Although I have never been to California, my constant research for my novels based in Los Angeles has uncovered one very important aspect for my characters nutrition: LA’s deli scene is second to none in the US.

Call me old-fashioned, but I have always been a sandwich guy, a sandwich lover.

It started in elementary school, when my mother would put a sandwich every day on my paper bagged lunch—ham, bologna, tuna, PB & J, it didn’t matter. Maybe it’s a bread thing LOL. But my love for sandwiches has even continued into adulthood.

Growing up, born and raised in a small town, where there are no food chains (McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, etc.), gave me complete access to the freshness that comes from Mom & POP Shops. I don’t want fast-food sandwiches, or stale, processed meat—I want the real deal.

So it is no surprise that the characters in all of my novels, especially those who work in law enforcement, eat their lunches at local, Mom & Pop Shop delis. No fast food, or processed foods. They enjoy the freshness that comes in the form of both the meats and the breads offered at delis.

The variety offered at these delis is awesome.

Breads: Ciabatta, Whole Wheat, Sourdough, Rye, Pita, Multigrain, etc.

Meats: Chorizo, Pancetta, Prosciutto, Mortadella, Salami, etc.


I love the variety and options that come from fresh delis. And by the way, my characters love them as well.

Sandwich anyone?

Thanks for stopping by to share more food for thought, Luke!

You can find Luke here:

Luke Murphy is the International bestselling author of two series. The Calvin Watters Mysteries: Dead Man’s Hand (2012) and Wild Card (2017). The Charlene Taylor Mysteries: Kiss & Tell (2015) and Rock-A-Bye Baby (2019).
Murphy played six years of professional hockey before retiring in 2006.
His sports column, “Overtime” (Pontiac Equity), was nominated for the 2007 Best Sports Page in Quebec, and won the award in 2009. He has also worked as a radio journalist (CHIPFM 101.7).
Murphy lives in Shawville, QC with his wife and three daughters. He is a teacher who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing, and a Bachelor of Education (Magna Cum Laude).

Red Zone is Murphy’s fifth novel.

Back Cover Text:

The prodigal son…
Calvin Watters hasn't been back to USC since the day his scholarship and humility were stripped from the former running back. Calvin had cut all ties to the school, but now finds himself pulled back, when a woman's dead body is found on the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum football field.

…returns home
Detective Charlene Taylor's new homicide case, a freshman cheerleader’s murder at USC, is complicated. Charlene knows that the USC football team is a close knit family, and getting inside the trusted circle, as a cop, is unlikely.

Calvin Watters is a game-changer…
When Calvin and Charlene meet up on the Coliseum turf, Charlene sees an opportunity to use Calvin to penetrate the Trojan family circle. Little does the detective know, Calvin is now an outsider at USC, no longer welcomed—with many who will go a long way to see the former football star fail.
Can Calvin and Charlene work together to uncover the truth, or will their egos interfere with what could be a powerful partnership?

Review Blurbs

"Luke Murphy ramps up the thrill factor with RED ZONE—an awesome, gotta-know-what-happens-next thriller."—Linda Castillo, NYT & USA Today bestselling author of the Kate Burkholder series

"Well-drawn characters and an interesting premise—Luke Murphy is a mystery writer to watch."—DV Berkom, USA Today bestselling author of the Leine Basso series

"Red Zone is another winner for Murphy! Thrilling...riveting...a stay-up-all-night-read."--Kim Cresswell, bestselling author of Deadly Shadow

“Luke Murphy creates a gritty and compelling murder mystery with ‘Red Zone’.”—S.L. Shelton, bestselling author of the Scott Wolfe series

"Richly developed characters, snappy dialogue, and a plot to keep the reader guessing."--Peter Clement, bestselling author of the Earl Garnet series

Thursday, July 16, 2020

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Lucy Burdette, Author of The Key Lime Crime

Long before I imagined I’d write a foodie mystery, I fell in love with Diane Mott Davidson’s series featuring caterer Goldie Schultz. Davidson didn't just dump descriptions onto her pages, food was part of her story. And I always finished a book wishing I could have been friends with caterer Goldy, sitting in her kitchen, tasting her food. Ten years ago I was delighted to follow in Davidson’s footsteps, signing a contract for a series of mysteries set in Key West featuring novice food critic Hayley Snow. It’s hard to believe the 11th book, The Key Lime Crime, will be published in August by Crooked Lane Books!

At one point, Hayley’s boss at the magazine she works for says this about a piece she’s writing: We’re eager to see how you’ll spin it so it’s not just a list of sandwiches and their ingredients.  And that makes Hayley worry: Did that mean he found my last round-up article lacking?

This of course is the challenge of every food writer whether writing fiction or nonfiction—how to write about the food but also make the piece about something bigger.  I try to make sure that food in my mysteries reveals something deeper about the characters who are eating or discussing it. (At the end I include recipes because it seems only fair to provide them after readers have salivated for pages and pages!) Here’s a little snippet from The Key Lime Crime to wet your whistle. Hayley’s recently married to police detective Nathan Bransford and her brand new mother-in-law is arriving in Key West unexpectedly. Hayley’s worried about hosting her properly:

Once we got past the initial awkward hellos, the evening should go by quickly. Nathan reported that Mrs. Bransford wanted to see the Christmas lights of Key West. So he had made a reservation for three of us on the last conch train that would ferry guests around the island to see the holiday displays. We’d have a cocktail and snacks at my mother’s place, then drive over to New Town to catch the train at the high school. Nathan was pretty sure he could meet us back at the houseboat for a light supper. Miss Gloria would attend all of the festivities, including the train ride, and mom, Sam, and Nathan, would join us for dinner. 
“What does she like to eat?” I’d asked him. “Even more important, what does she not like?” 
“She’ll like anything you make,” he said. “Food isn’t that important to her.” 
Which meant we were starting out light-years apart. Not only was I the food critic for Key Zest, I came from a long line of foodies whose life-long obsession was the next great meal. Food was love—that was our language. Obviously, she spoke some other dialect altogether. 

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Lucy!

You can find Lucy here:

Clinical psychologist Lucy Burdette (aka Roberta Isleib) is the author of 18 mysteries, including THE KEY LIME CRIME (Crooked Lane Books,) the latest in the Key West series featuring food critic Hayley Snow. Her books and stories have been short-listed for Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. She's a past president of Sisters in Crime and the current president of the Friends of the Key West Library.

About The Key Lime Crime:

With her intimidating new mother-in-law bearing down on the island and a fierce rivalry between Key lime pie bakers to referee, food critic Hayley Snow is feeling anything but festive…

 It’s the week between Christmas and New Year’s and Key West is bursting at the seams with holiday events and hordes of tourists. Adding to the chaos, Key lime pie aficionado David Sloan has persuaded the city to host his Key Lime pie extravaganza and contest. Hayley Snow can’t escape the madness because her bosses at Key Zest magazine have assigned her to cover the event. Every pie purveyor in Key West is determined to claim the Key lime spotlight—and win the coveted Key Lime Key to the City.

Another recipe for disaster—Hayley’s hubby, police detective Nathan Bransford, announces that his mother will be making a surprise visit. Newlywed Hayley must play the dutiful daughter-in-law, so she and her pal Miss Gloria offer to escort his mom on the iconic Conch Train Tour of the island's holiday lights. But it's not all glittering palm trees and fantastic flamingos--the unlikely trio finds a real body stashed in one of the elaborate displays. And the victim is no stranger: Hayley recognizes the controversial new pastry chef from Au Citron Vert, a frontrunner in Sloan’s contest.

Hayley must not only decipher who’s removed the chef from the contest kitchen, she's also got to handle a too-curious mother-in-law who seems to be cooking up trouble of her own. 

"Charming characters, an appealing setting, and mouthwatering bonus recipes make this a perfect choice for foodie cozy lovers." Publishers’ Weekly, May 2020

“The well-described Key West setting nicely complements the foodie frame in this satisfying cozy, which is a natural for fans of Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen mysteries.”