by Diana Bulls
& Lorie Lewis Ham
This week we are combining vintage kitchens & mystery fun with a review of the first book in a new series by Victoria Hamiliton, A Deadly Grind, an interview with Victoria & a chance to win a copy of the book. Details at the end of this article. Also in this issue is a vintage kitchen collectibles article by our resident historian Diana Bulls.
A Deadly Grind(A Vintage Kitchen Mystery) by Victoria Hamiliton
Review by Diana Bulls
A Deadly Grind may be the name of the first book in Victoria Hamilton’s new Vintage Kitchen Mystery series, but it certainly isn’t a ‘deadly grind’ to read! The plot has just enough twists and turns, the characters are quirky but charming, the heroine is likable and there are some great potential love interests. All this, plus the added interest of collectible kitchen ware, vintage cookbooks and antiques.
Small town girl, Jaymie Leighton is an aspiring cookbook author and a collector of all things vintage kitchen related–a girl right down my alley. She lives in a 19th century house she co-owns with her older sister Rebecca in the small tourist village of Queensville, Michigan. Jaymie lives there full time with a three-legged Yorkie and a disgruntled cat, while Rebecca lives in Canada and runs a successful china replacement business.
The action starts at a country auction and introduces us to the first of the cast of characters that troop in and out of the storyline. Rebecca is searching for Spode, Crown Derby and Minton, while Jaymie spies an apparently complete and original Hoosier cabinet—it’s love at first sight for Jaymie, but also introduces the opportunity for murder and mayhem.
Victoria Hamilton moves things along at a leisurely pace, as one might expect in a laid back little tourist town, but there are clues dropped at every turn and everyone could be a suspect.
Hamilton enjoys cooking, collecting vintage cookware and cookbooks, animals and “fun tales of small town life.” She also loves to read mysteries that center around things she loves and believes that other mystery readers do as well. Hamilton will include an old fashioned recipe in each book. A Deadly Grind featured the vintage recipe for Queen Elizabeth Cake (Elizabeth the Queen Mother, not Queen Elizabeth II) as well as a modern rendition.
The second book in the Vintage Kitchen Mystery series, Bowled Over, is due out in February 2013. Meantime, back in Queensville, the police struggle with mistaken identities, rumors run rampant, Jaymie’s old boyfriend is determined that she be best friends with his new girlfriend, and, of course, Jaymie can’t help trying to uncover the Hoosier’s secret herself. Will Jaymie live to regret ever seeing the Hoosier? Will Jaymie even live or will she be “going, going, going…gone?”
Interview With Victoria Hamilton
Lorie: How did you come about writing this series?
Victoria: It was actually one of those cases of something staring me right in the face—literally, every time I walked into my kitchen—and not realizing it was there. I had submitted a proposal to an agent I desperately wanted to work with, but she rejected it and suggested I read other first books in cozy series from among her client list to get an idea of how it was done. I did, and began to realize that most ‘cozy’ or ‘traditional’ mystery series were centered around some kind of craft or cooking specialty or home art. And then it hit me… I collect vintage kitchenware; how much ‘cozier’ could it get? I wrote a proposal and chapters and sent them off; the agent (Love you, Jessica! There’s a very good reason the first book is dedicated to her.) loved it, signed me on the basis of it and about two weeks later I had a three book deal with Berkley Prime Crime, my dream publisher, for the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries!
Lorie: Tell us about your book, setting and characters
Victoria: A Deadly Grind is Book 1 of my Vintage Kitchen Mystery series. Jaymie Leighton, the central character, lives in her family’s ancestral home in Queensville, Michigan, a small town on the American-Canadian border, aka, the St. Clair River. Jaymie is an avid fan of vintage kitchen collectibles. When she finds the perfect Hoosier brand kitchen cabinet at an estate auction, she is unprepared for the trouble it will bring her.
Despite a fistfight breaking out in the auction audience, she wins the bid on it, brings it home and stores it on her summer porch for the night, awaiting cleaning. But in the middle of the night her little three-legged Yorkie-Poo, Hoppy, starts barking, and Jaymie and her sister, Becca, discover a dead body on her summer porch. Everything is all over the place, including the grinder off the Hoosier, and the boxes of some of the other stuff she bought at the auction. My working title for the book was a play on words, Hoosier Dead Guy?, and who the dead guy actually is remains a mystery for days. Jaymie, horrified and frightened by the violence right on her doorstep, is determined to find out what went on, and how it ties in with her Hoosier, or the other items she purchased at the estate sale. But the solution won’t come without some danger to Jaymie.
Lorie: I understand that this is a pseudonym, why did you decide to go that way?
Victoria: My actual name, Donna Lea Simpson, is strongly tied in to historical romance, so it was decided among me, the publisher and my agent that a fresh start in cozy mystery was the way to go! And so, Victoria Hamilton was born!
Lorie: What else have you written?
Victoria: I’ve been writing a long time. I wrote Regency romances for Zebra Kensington for years, then switched to paranormal (werewolf) historical romance with my Awaiting trilogy (starting with national bestseller Awaiting the Moon, Berkley Sensation 2006). I then wrote a trilogy of historical romance mysteries; the first book was Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark (Sourcebooks 2009). Books 2 and 3 Revenge of the Barbary Ghost: A Lady Anne Mystery and Curse of the Gypsy: A Lady Anne Mystery, are both out now in e-book format from Beyond the Page Publishing. Links to purchase all of these books can be found on my other website.
Lorie: What are your future plans/hopes for this series?
Victoria: Well, Book 2 of the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries, Bowled Over, will be coming out in February of next year, and Book 3, Picked for Murder, will be released in November. After that, we’ll see! I would love to continue writing this series about the quirky, fun folk of Queensville, Michigan, and the unusually high number of murders that happen in their small town.
Lorie: Website, Twitter & Facebook?
Lorie: What kind of research did you have to do for this series?
Victoria: You know, when you love the subject matter this much, it isn’t so much research as drooling over all the wonderful vintage kitchen collectibles you can find online and at antique markets! I have a Hoosier-type cabinet that was actually used as the inspiration for the one on the cover. I sent the art department photos, with the grinder in place.
But seriously, I did have to do a fair bit of research, as most mystery authors do, on police procedure, and for this book, in particular, on how the police figure out the identity of a body when they don’t have a name. Most of my research time was spent, though, on constructing my fictional town of Queensville, Michigan. It was so much fun writing a backstory for the village, and Heartbreak Island and Johnsonville, Ontario!
And finally, because there is a recipe in the book—every Vintage Kitchen Mystery will have an old recipe reworked for modern cooks—I had to test the resulting Queen Elizabeth Cake. That is when research is yummy!
To enter to win a copy of A Deadly Grind, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Grind”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 30, 2012. U.S. residents only.