Murder on the Half Shell & Murder on a Silver Platter By Shawn Reilly Simmons: Reviews/Giveaways

Feb 27, 2016 | 2016 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Food Fun, Mysteryrat's Maze, Theatre

by Cynthia Chow

This week we have a double header of books by Shawn Reilly Simmons from her Red Carpet Catering series. At the end of this post are details on how to win copies of both of them, and links to purchase them.

Murder on the Half Shell: A Red Carpet Catering Mystery by Shawn Reilly Simmons
Review by Cynthia Chow

Penelope Sutherland may be on Florida’s Andrea Island surrounded by beautiful Hollywood actors, but she’s not on vacation. As the owner of Red Carpet Catering, Penelope has the difficult task of producing high-quality meals for the crew filming a 1890s period movie, The Yellow Wallpaper. Tensions are high between the residents who revere their history and the descending filmmakers, but that’s nothing compared to the hostilities that arise when two teenagers Penelope hired as waitresses go missing during a crew party.

bookPenelope is torn between feelings of responsibilities and loyalty when the last man seen with the girls was Emilio Babineau, a New Orleans celebrity chef. He also happens to be a former culinary instructor who helped Penelope obtain her first job. Deeply troubling to Penelope is the knowledge that Emilio left their culinary school under a cloud of suspicion. Although he was eventually cleared, Emilio had been accused of having inappropriate relationships with his female students. Emilio may have planned to partner with the director Shane Guthrie to open a new Craw Daddy’s restaurant on Andrea Island, but that possibility looks slim now due to the possibility of his imminent arrest.

Penelope has her hands full timing the meals around their demanding director, in addition to ensuring that the actress who employs her as a personal chef isn’t subject to an allergic reaction to shellfish. So it’s a welcome treat when her boyfriend, New Jersey Homicide Detective Joseph Baglioni, comes to visit for a brief vacation. While sunning on the yacht of her employer’s boyfriend, the pair investigate Emilio’s past as well as the divisions growing between the insular residents, vacationing tourists, and adventurous teenagers.

It’s always enjoyable to read mysteries about a profession from the viewpoint of an insider, and here the author shares her extensive background as a wine consultant and caterer. The requirements that go into ensuring the quality meals prepped for hundreds is fascinating, down to the tiniest detail. The focus falls on the Andrea Islanders who are protective of their home, even though they survive off of their tourist industry. Penelope herself proves to be a skilled professional caterer, but her being drawn into the investigation feels entirely realistic. Penelope’s loyalties are strong, rivaled only by her protectiveness towards her staff. These two warring motives ensure that Penelope will be unstoppable until she unravels the mystery behind this compelling and thoroughly engaging read.

Murder on a Silver Platter: A Red Carpet Catering Mystery by Shawn Reilly Simmons
Review by Cynthia Chow

Ever since graduating from culinary school, Penelope Sutherland dreamed of owning a theatrical catering business. By working on commercial sets, Off-Broadway productions, and low-budget music videos, she was able to hire a crew and purchase enough catering trucks to create Red Carpet Catering. It was becoming the personal, live-in chef for rising slasher-film actress Arlena Madison that provided the last financial push, and since then Penelope and Arlena formed a rewarding professional and personal relationship together in Arlena’s Glendale, New Jersey mansion. Penelope remains a supportive friend during Arlena’s complicated romantic life, while Arlena recommends Red Carpet Catering to all of her productions.

bookRed Carpet Catering’s current assignment is working on the set of Arlena’s new movie being filmed in South Point, New Jersey. Their adaptation of a book is off to a rocky start when Penelope discovers a body of a teenager on Arlena’s property. The tragic young woman bore a striking resemblance to Arlena, bringing into question whether it was the actress herself who was the intended victim. When Arlena is nearly run down on the set and then sabotaged with tampered makeup, Penelope becomes alarmed that the actress is the target of plot that at the very least would shut down the movie. That Arlena is the daughter of a legendary movie actor renowned for his lothario ways and copious number of children complicates matters, as the movies seem more personal in nature.

Much of what makes this such an enjoyable new mystery is the background information on both catering and movie-making. Equally compelling is just how seamlessly author Simmons works Penelope into the investigation. Penelope never intentionally sets out to solve a murder, but her relationship to those involved – as well as her often overlooked role within the household and on movie sets – make her instrumental to the investigating detective. Detective Joey Baglioni is an old acquaintance of Penelope and seems to be as interested in her as Arlena’s half-brother, adding an additional spicy element to the novel. The relationships between Arlena, the movie cast, and her family eventually take their starring role, but Penelope’s intelligence and sharp wit continue throughout the novel. This is a fun new series for readers who enjoy their theatrical showbiz mysteries with a culinary twist.

These books are published by Henery Press, if you would like to know more about their books you can visit their website:

To enter to win a copy of both books, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “catering,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 5, 2016. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.

You can use these links to order these books: If you have ad blocker on you may not see this link:

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section.

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).


  1. Thank you for the chance to win, it looks great.
    jslbrown2009 at aol dot com

  2. Both of the books, Half Shell & Murder on a Silver Platter, sound like fun reads. Thank you for the chance to win.

  3. It sounds like fun to be behind the scenes at movie sets — all sorts of good characters around! Thanks for the giveaway!

  4. Sounds fantastic. Thanks for the chance at winning.
    frybbe @

  5. I like the setting of these books, carpet catering mystery sounds really entertaining. Would enjoy reading this series. Great giveaway, thanks.

  6. Here’s a shout out to KRL Magazine and the great book reviews! I sure do get excited about the book covers, but these reviews give me real reasons to want to choose a book as my next reading adventure. These books are it! I like the ‘catering’ theme, and the characters seem quirky enough to be fun, as well as engaging. Is this week my lucky week? Well, does an oyster have a pearl!

  7. This is a new to me series, it sure sounds like fun. Thanks for the chance to win!

  8. Have a love/hate relationship with the cozies that make me hungry!!

  9. New to me series and author. I like the reviews of both of them.

  10. I would enjoy reading these books in the Red Carpet Catering series. Thank you. chatcozy1(at)gmail(dot)com

  11. Great review. Another series and author added to my TBR list. Thanks for the chance to win.

  12. I have not read this series yet and I can’t believe I missed hearing about it until now. I would love to win, thanks for the chance.

  13. Would love to read these books. Thanks for the giveaway.

  14. Thank you for the contest…sounds fantastic..

  15. We have a winner!


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