Food Mysteries For Your Valentine’s Day Dinner!

Feb 10, 2024 | 2024 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Food Fun, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Cynthia Chow

This week we are reviewing more delicious food mysteries for your Valentine’s Day Dinner-Deep Fried Death: A Country Store Mystery by Maddie Day, Public Anchovy #1: A Deep Dish Mystery by Mindy Quigley, and Coconut Drop Dead: A Spice Isle Bakery Mystery by Olivia Matthews. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of all 3 books and links to purchase them from Amazon at the end of each review.

Deep Fried Death: A Country Store Mystery by Maddie Day
Review by Cynthia Chow

Taking advantage of the opportunity to promote her Pans ‘N Pancakes country store and restaurant, Robbie Jordan and her staff are competing in Nashville’s Outhouse Race during the annual Abe Martin Festival. Adorably decorated as a rustic farmhouse with wheels and not as functional outdoor plumbing, the outhouse has been built to roll downhill alongside a number of other entries. The event is meant to be a friendly competition among businesses, but Evermina Martin of the Miss South Lick Diner does not have the same viewpoint.

Evermina had made it clear that Pans ‘N Pancakes was a threat to her own restaurant, so it doesn’t look great when her body is found dead inside Robbie’s outhouse, whacked to death by a cast-iron frying pan. Robbie has become an all-too-familiar witness/suspect/snooper to the South Lick, Indiana police, and now the county’s sheriff’s department is experiencing that honor. Robbie’s brother-in-law Don O’Neill was also seen arguing with Evermina, ensuring that she won’t have a choice about whether or not to again get involved in a murder investigation. It’s not the way she had intended to spend her first wedding anniversary, but since her new husband was already away on a father-son getaway, Robbie might as well once again venture into crime solving.

While the murder in this 12th of the series is fiction, Nashville’s Abe Martin Festival and its “Nashcar” Outhouse Race is actually very real. That makes a death by frying pan morbidly hilarious, although at least the outhouse is built for speed and not for its intended use. Robbie being in the early stages of pregnancy means that she is experiencing both morning sickness and food cravings, but her talented sous chefs are at least able to help with the latter. In addition to the reality of eating for two, Robbie is extremely aware of the added risks she faces when delving into murder. That means keeping investigators and her husband in the loop, especially when she discovers that Evermina made it a practice of attempting to sabotage other businesses. Bird decoy collecting, unhappy exes, and a little light blackmail mean that Robbie has an abundance of suspects to question while they enjoy the tasty treats at her country restaurant. If this is the last in the series it goes out on a high note, with hopefully new mysteries still to come by this extremely talented and prolific author.

You can click here to purchase the book from Amazon.

Public Anchovy #1: A Deep Dish Mystery by Mindy Quigley
Review by Cynthia Chow

Delilah O’Leary had high expectations for the Speakeasy Soiree themed fundraiser being thrown by the Friends of the Library. Business usually takes a steep decline during Wisconsin’s winter, and as the owner of Delilah & Son pizzeria she hoped that working at the charity event would give a boost to her profits and provide an entry into upscale party catering. So along with her bestie sous chef Sonya Doktor – the “Son” of their business’s title – Delilah is off to exclusive Bluff Point and the home of e-reader innovator Pam Philips. Delilah is immediately met with the unexpected demand for a “Free-From” Pizza – a pizza without cheese, tomatoes, or gluten – testing all of her creativity and skill in the kitchen. While that challenge is met successfully using squash and beets, not so easily overcome is the discovery of a body at the base of a staircase.

Edgar Clemmons was the very unhappy outgoing board chair of the Friends of the Library, and he was not shy about his distaste for technology and the woman who had been voted to replace him. Whatever hopes Delilah had of remaining uninvolved – for once neither she nor her aunt are serious suspects – are dashed when trees block the roads and the remaining guests and servers are trapped overnight on the estate. Among those extremely displeased to be sleeping in the same residence as the help are B.L. Huddleston and Kennedy Criss, the couple who bought Delilah’s Great-Aunt Biz’s house after it was foreclosed upon due to nonpayment of property taxes. Auntie Biz is obsessed with the usurpers who “stole” her home, frustrating Delilah as she attempts to concentrate on sifting through suspects while still serving up delicious meals. A missing knife, guests getting drugged, and a situation that seems out of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None forces Delilah to find the culprit before the guest list dwindles down to nothing.

This third in the series takes a fun look at the classic trapped-in-a-mansion mystery and includes delectable descriptions of pizza making and cookery. The relationship between Delilah and her aunt is hilarious due to their stalwartness and refusal to show affection or apologize, both following the family tradition of expressing their feelings through food. Romantic relationships abound, with the most central one being Delilah’s very tentative one with Detective Calvin Capone, a direct descendant of Al Capone and a grandfather at the age of 42. Plot twists, rare book collecting, and classism all combine into a classic murder mystery with an added dash of cozy mystery fun. Recipes, a cat who is technically the owner of Delilah’s home, and family drama ensure that mystery fans will find this to be an entertaining and extremely satisfying read.

You can click here to purchase the book from Amazon.

Coconut Drop Dead: A Spice Isle Bakery Mystery by Olivia Matthews
Review by Cynthia Chow

Brooklyn, New York is celebrating their annual Caribbean American Heritage Festival, and the Spice Isle Bakery is one of the many food truck vendors selling delicious, sensory-overloading treats. Lyndsay Murray has finally achieved her dream of owning a restaurant featuring traditional West Indian pastries and treats. She holds the controlling interest in her family-run business. Her family is indeed very much a part of the bakery, with her parents, uncles, aunties, and grandmother very interested in expanding both the business and their generations. That’s why they immediately notice the attention Lyndsay’s cousin Mason is giving to Camille Abbey, lead singer of the DragonFlyZ band playing at the festival. It’s also why everyone is heartbroken when Camille is found dead after suffering a fall.

Mason is adamant that her death was not an accident, and it doesn’t take long for the police to agree. NYPD Homicide Detective Bryce Jackson again arrives to take over the case, but it also adds another complication to Lyndsay’s life. While she once harbored a childhood crush on the handsome Brooklynite, and her aunties and mother would love to see them together, she is unable to forgive him for his proclivity to suspect and arrest Lyndsay’s family members. That doesn’t mean that he won’t continue to flirt and ask her out for meals though, or that Lyndsay won’t once again pursue her own investigation into a murder. Camille was recently seen arguing with the band’s manager, a backup singer lost her original place when overshadowed by Camille’s talent, and there’s even an ex-boyfriend looming on the scene. In order to provide justice for a promising young woman and give some sense of resolution to her cousin, the Grenadian Nancy Drew will do all she can while still baking delicious coconut puddings and delectable coconut cookie treats.

This third in the series overflows with exuberant characters as it celebrates West Indian culture and cuisines. Rival charities keep Lyndsay on her toes as she attempts to soothe egos while also promoting her family’s business, which showcases both their traditional and modernized treats. There’s a lot of fun as Lyndsay explores the entertainment business, with music contracts and performance opportunities providing multiple motives for murder. Lyndsay’s supportive family are as adorable as they are admirable, always wanting the best for her and recognizing how she has grown so much since starting the bakery. Good-hearted humor, relatable family interactions, and an abundance of West Indian cuisine make this a rewarding mystery that opens a door into a fascinating world of vibrant food and traditions.

You can click here to purchase the book from Amazon.

To enter to win a copy of all 3 books, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “valentine dinner” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 17, 2024. 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. 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.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

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.

7 Comments

  1. Great bunch of books! Count me in!

    Reply
  2. Thanks for reading and posting! -Mindy Quigley

    Reply
  3. These are all new series to me. Sounds
    like good ones. thanks.
    txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

    Reply
  4. All three books sound amazing. Looking forward to reading all three.
    diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

    Reply
  5. Wow! All three sound very interesting!

    Reply
  6. All 3 books sound great. I have enjoyed the Country Store Mysteries and look forward to reading this latest book. The other 2 books are part of series that I intend to read after I catch up on several series that I have fallen behind on.

    Reply

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