Against the Currant By Olivia Matthews: Review/Giveaway/Guest Post

Feb 4, 2023 | 2023 Articles, Food Fun, Kathleen Costa, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Kathleen Costa & Olivia Matthews

This week we have a review of the first in a brand new series by Olivia Matthews along with a guest post by Olivia about research. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.

Against the Currant: A Spice Isle Bakery Mystery By Olivia Matthews
Review by Kathleen Costa

The Flavors of a Cozy Murder
Twenty-seven-year-old Lindsay Murray is excited about finally fulfilling a childhood dream. She and her family are putting on the final touches for a soft opening of her bakery which highlights the exotic flavors of their Grenadian heritage. Spice Isle Bakery is in the heart of Brooklyn’s Little Caribbean neighborhood rich with the sights, sounds, and smells of the diverse West Indian culture. Lyndsay may have earned a marketing degree, which is an asset, but she grew up cooking, and even though baking is a challenge for her, it brings her lots of “joy.” She’s determined to master a variety of pastries and make her bakery a success, and with the help of her parents, Cedella and Jacob, as partners and bakers, her maternal Granny Genevieve Bain and older brother, part-time worker/full-time lawyer Devon, as “not-so-silent” partners, and an aunt, uncle, and cousins along with Ziggy Cat, she’s confidant it’ll happen. Well, of course, there may be a glitch made murderously difficult by the local competition.

Against the Currant Earns 5/5 Island Treats…Engagingly Delicious Cozy!
Claudio Fabrizi, owner of Claudio’s Baked Goods, has been the sour in the milk for the Murray family, but Lindsay knows as the majority partner in the bakery, she needs to accept the complaints as well as the successes. Claudio’s Bake Goods is an established business in the neighborhood, but Mr. Fabrizi isn’t really a member of the neighborhood; he lives elsewhere and rarely joins in community affairs or the lives of his neighbors. Today his complaint is both public and threatening waving in Lyndsay’s face a handful of notices she’d posted announcing her bakery’s opening. He is angry about the impending competition, despite their menu’s being vastly different, and demands she open up somewhere else, a tactic he’ds tried on other bakeries and succeeded. Of course, Lyndsay’s response is “…you move,” and her grandmother is proud of how she stood up to the man’s threats. Buuuut, it doesn’t end there. Fabrizi shows up at the opening, spewing more threats, and vowing to shut them down. Lyndsay defends the family vehemently, but who will defend her when the homicide detectives arrive wanting to question her about Claudio’s death?

Grand Opening Gem! Olivia Matthews has baked up a spicy cozy mystery as her first book in a new series, Spice Isle Bakery Mystery. She introduces a young woman who, although struggles with her confidence, finds her voice. She is supported by a close-knit family, proud of a fascinating culture, and not bad at investigating a clever murder mystery. The crime actually occurs later in the book than I like, but being the first book in the series, the introductions, conflict set up, foodie talk, and extraneous events were quite enjoyable. The investigation turned out to be engaging and complex with several avenues to follow from greedy schemes to broken relationships, illegal intentions to plain ol’ revenge … all fascinating motives entangling a diverse group of suspects. Even an additional victim and a bit of personal peril adds some “nail-biting” excitement. Lyndsay’s methods of investigating are realistic for an amateur seeing beyond official inquires with her insights into the community, loads of gossip, and connections her family has with the locals, yet her involvement causes a riff with childhood friend and, now, detective in charge.

Olivia’s writing is descriptive and entertaining illustrating the environment and the multi-generational characters, and providing a delightful backstory tale of an immigrant family making a success of their second home. The family dynamic was realistic, something with which every reader can identify: Lyndsay’s parents are supportive, of course, but protective and overly cautious; her brother is supportive, literally lending a helping hand; her grandmother is supportive as well as encouraging and definitely has her granddaughter’s back with her own insights as well as baking lessons. But, what about romance? Lyndsay has been quite the introvert and bonding over murder is not the best relationship starter, but there might be an opportunity to consider.

Recipes, Please! It’s not complete until the recipes show up, and straight from Spice Isle Bakery, you can enjoy a taste of the Caribbean with “melt in your mouth” Currant Rolls and Coconut Bread! Yum!

A Spice Isle Bakery Mystery
Against the Currant (January, 2023)
Hard Dough Homicide (May 2023) Amazon Preorder
Lyndsay Murray, owner of Spice Isle Bakery, will definitely regret hosting the retirement dinner for local high school principal Emily Smith, her mother’s former and tyrannical boss, when Emily starts convulsing, and then, dies later. The Murray family finds themselves again in hot water.

Be a Big Olivia Matthews Fan!
Best-selling author Patricia Sargeant writes under a few of literary personas including Regina Hart and Olivia Matthews, and with that she has “a story to match your every mood.” Channeling her “cozy” Olivia persona, she has added this Spice Isle Bakery Mystery to the Mystery Peach Coast Library Mysteries with Marvey a librarian who finds more than books checking out and the Sister Lou Mysteries with L.A. transplant Sister Louise “Lou” LaSalle finding more felonies than faith in Briar Coast, New York.

Facebook: Patricia Sargeant (Olivia Matthews)
Website: Patricia Sargeant (Regina Hart – Olivia Matthews)

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying year 2 of retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband of 26+ years.

A Matter of Fact: Having Fun with Research
By Patricia Sargeant aka Olivia Matthews

Fiction is anchored with fact. When readers step into a story world, they’re asked to suspend disbelief regardless of the novel’s genre: mystery, romance, science fiction, paranormal, western, etc.

To prepare readers to suspend belief and give themselves up to the novel’s journey, the author has to establish the story’s legitimacy. This is harder than it sounds. Everything in the book is fake. The characters are fake. The events are fake. The location may be fake. So the tools the author uses to support the story’s structure must either be based on facts in the real world or based on the canons of the world the author has built.

Patricia Sargeant aka Olivia Matthews

For example, in a mystery, if the story centers around a team of professional law enforcement officers investigating a crime, the author has to ensure that their procedures are accurate and properly executed.

Let’s set our next example in a romance. The conflict that keeps our protagonists from initially achieving their happily-ever-after should be substantial. It can’t be something that could be resolved with a ten-minute conversation.

Even in a science fiction/fantasy story in which the world is completely made up, the author has to make sure they’re following the rules they’ve established for their made-up world.

What happens if the author gets the facts wrong in their novel, you ask? Are you sure you can handle knowing? If the author is misinformed either with real-world or make-believe world facts, the reader will be ripped from the book. The tenuous tether between the reader and the story will snap. Once that happens, the reader may be lost forever. Tragic.

The information being researched usually goes beyond background questions like what’s the weather for the time of year the action’s taking place? What plants are popular in the region in which we’re setting the story? What are the characters wearing?

It’s a much deeper dive. For example, what type of training do the characters need for their careers, and how long does it take? Is it legal to record a conversation without both party’s permission in the jurisdiction where the story is set?

Authors start with the internet, books, and magazine, but interviews with subject matter experts can provide greater insights. From these conversations, you can get the latest information on the field, real-life applications, and personal perspectives.

However, research is time consuming, sometimes frustrating, and often overwhelming. If you’re going to commit that much time, effort, and energy into investigating a topic, it helps if it’s something in which you’re sincerely interested.

That ah-ha revelation prompted me to submit a proposal to my publisher for my Sister Lou Mysteries cozy mystery series, which features a Catholic sister as the reluctant amateur sleuth. At the time, I was working with the Dominican Sisters of Peace, a Catholic Congregation of women religious. They inspired my Sister Lou character and the fictitious congregation of the Sisters of St. Hermione of Ephesus.

A similar revelation prompted me to submit a proposal to my literary agent for my Spice Isle Bakery Mysteries cozy mystery series. This series is set in the Little Caribbean neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, and features an extended family of immigrants who open a West Indian bakery. In addition to murder and mayhem, the stories include Caribbean music, mythology, and recipes I’ve picked up during my research. For subject matter experts, I’ve used members of my family. As I explained, the research is a lot more fun and meaningful when the topic is something in which you’re sincerely interested.

To enter to win a copy of Against the Currant, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “currant,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 11, 2023. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode goes up next week.

You can use this link to purchase the book. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the Amazon link. You can also click here to purchase the book.

Patricia Sargeant is a national best-selling author. She writes mysteries as Olivia Matthews, and romance as Patricia Sargeant and Regina Hart. Her work has been featured in national publications such as Publishers Weekly, USA Today, Kirkus Reviews, Suspense Magazine, Mystery Scene Magazine, Library Journal and RT Book Reviews. For more information about Patricia, her various pseudonyms and her books, visit

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Love books with recipes included.
    Sounds like a good read. thanks

  2. Sounds interesting! Count me in!

  3. Sounds interesting. the setting is a
    different locale that I’ve not been to
    or read about. Love to read it.
    thanks. txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

  4. I just started reading cozies last year and am always appreciate of being introduced to new cozy authors. This sounds like a fun series. aprilbluetx at yahoo dot com

  5. I don’t know anything about Caribbean food, but that’s why I like books like this- I’ll learn something about it while being entertained by the mystery.

  6. I love cozy mysteries especially dealing with food. I have not read one with the setting in Against the Currant. I am always looking for new authors.

  7. Sounds like a great new series. Adding to my TBR list.

  8. Love books about food. I’m almost finished with the first Sister Lou book. Thanks for the chance.

  9. I just love cozy mysteries with recipes and cultural information about other areas of the world. It is refreshing to read about foreign foods, and have a chance to make them. Thank you so much for sharing your writing skills with us eager readers!!!

  10. We have a winner!


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