Fun Food Mysteries From Penguin/Kensington

Feb 28, 2015 | 2015 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze, Sandra Murphy

by Sandra Murphy

Here are some more fun food mysteries from Penguin and Kensington-Town in a Sweet Pickle by B. B. Haywood, License to Dill by Mary Ellen Hughes, and Fry Me a Liver by Delia Rosen. Details on how to enter to win copies of all 3 of these books at the end of this post, along with a link to purchase them.

Town in a Sweet Pickle by B. B. Haywood
Review by Sandra Murphy

In Cape Willington, Maine, Candy Holliday wears more than one hat. She’s the acting manager of the local paper, a job that’s taking more and more time. She also helps her dad on their farm, but lately feels like she’s been doing less and less there.

One of the things taking up time is a cooking contest, featuring well-known cook, Julia von Fleming, as one of the judges. There are also local judges. There’s one jar of pickles that seems suspicious though. It’s got a professional label, not one of a town cook. The brand of pickles was famous in its own way, with a taste that no one could duplicate. They are irresistible. book

Just as Julia is about to take a big bite of one, one of the local judges falls to the floor. He’d just chomped on several of the same brand of pickle, and is dead within seconds. Now the questions are: did the pickles go bad, was the guy the target, or was Julia the intended victim?

When more jars of poisoned pickles show up—people get sick but don’t die—it’s pretty apparent that the victims are either at random or targeted. That’s a big help. Candy is pretty sure they have something in common, if only somebody can figure out just what that is.

Now along with pickles, there’s blackmail, thievery, and revenge. In addition to figuring out who’s behind the plot, Candy also has to make personal decisions. How much time is she willing to devote to the paper when the farm needs her?

Another good read with great characters and a friendly setting. For a good mystery that involves a lot of food talk, be sure to read the rest of the series: Town in a Blueberry Jam, Town in a Lobster Stew, Town in a Wild Moose Chase, Town in a Pumpkin Bash, Town in a Strawberry Swirl (reviewed for KRL). Test out the recipes too: Pickled Red Beet Eggs, Harvest Cookies, Frozen Cucumber Salad, and Cranberry Applesauce. There’s also an article written by Candy for the paper about the basics of canning and pickling.

License to Dill by Mary Ellen Hughes
Review by Sandra Murphy

When we last saw Piper Lamb, owner of Piper’s Picklings, she’d just received word that her ex-fiancé, Scott, was on his way to see her. He’s been traveling the world to find himself, and apparently feels he’s accomplished that goal. He never faced the fact that Piper broke up with him when he left—even returning the ring. He kind of has in mind that the pickling shop was just to keep her occupied until he got back and married her.

She’s now involved with a local man, Will. She’s also fallen in love with being her own boss and making pickles. One of her favorite vendors is Gerald Standley, who grows beautiful dill. book

Of course, the world doesn’t revolve around pickles, although it might be a better place if it did. The entire town is vested in an upcoming series of three soccer games. Cloverdale’s all-star team will play a semi-professional team from Italy. Gerald used to play, and still coaches the high school team, so he’s more than excited about the game. Until…

The team arrives in town and there’s a familiar face on board. Raffaele Conti was a foreign exchange student and star of the Cloverdale high school soccer team. He treated the team as if they were there to show off his brilliance as a player. Somehow, the coach let him get away with it. Raffaele was also a Romeo with the girls. He had a quick attempt at a romance with Gerald’s girlfriend (now wife). To say that Gerald is not glad to see him is a major understatement. He’s not alone in those feelings.

When Raffaele’s body is found, it’s not much of a surprise. The surprise is that the body was in Gerald’s dill field. It’s almost a relief for Piper to investigate the murder, rather than think about Scott’s arrival in town. Scott says he’s changed. He still wants to practice law and decides that Cloverdale is the ideal place to do it. In fact, his office will be just down the street. After all, he’s ready to pick things up where he left off with Piper and their relationship.

There are some lingering feelings on Piper’s part, of course. She really cares for Will, but there were good times with Scott and memories are strong. Of course, he’s a good-looking guy, so surely if Piper gives him a little shove toward a few other women, he’ll be distracted.

There are a number of suspects to eliminate and pickles to be made in the meantime. When Raffaele’s wife shows up, it’s a shock. Who knew he was married? After his arrival in town, he’d been “renewing his friendship” with a number of local women, married and single.

Piper’s assistant, Amy, is back as well, as is Aunt Judy. Amy gets to be more involved this time around. You’d like to hang out at Piper’s shop even if you don’t cook, but since pickles are so easy to make, why not try some? You can start with Pearl Onions with Dill. The other recipe included is Green Tomato Relish. There’s also a little lesson on dill and a list of suggested uses. Who knew it was from the carrot family or that it’s good in egg salad?

The Pickled Piper
was reviewed for KRL. Hughes also writes the Craft Corner Mysteries: Wreath of Deception, String of Lies and Paper Thin Alibi.

Fry Me a Liver by Delia Rosen
Review by Sandra Murhpy

Gwen Katz is the owner of Murray’s Deli in Nashville. Her employees are one of her families—there’s the one you’re born with, friends as family, and the family you choose: Thomasina is the manager; Newt is the cook; Luke is the busboy; Dani, Luke’s girlfriend, works the afternoon shift; Raylene; A. J., and her daughter, A. J. Two. Chopped liver is the specialty of the house.

You might think it’s odd to find a Jewish deli in a Southern city like Nashville, but the deli is packed every day. Today, Tootsie Pearl, the Green candidate, is stopping by for her fourth visit. Tootsie travels without the press, but Candy Sommerton is after a story and she doesn’t let anything stop her. book

Usually, deliveries are made before the restaurant opens but vegan protests in front of the butcher’s shop made him run behind on deliveries. Alex Storm, his daughter, is welcome, though, since there’s been a run on chopped liver, one of the biggest sellers. She has to make a second trip to the truck to get the kosher hot dogs. Before Alex can fetch the hot dogs, there’s an explosion and everyone who was in the kitchen, ends up in the basement. So does a big part of the delivery truck.

First things first. Let first responders know there are people in the basement who are alive and injured. Thomasina is in a bad way. So is A. J.. Second, move some of the debris without having the big truck land on anyone. Three, try not to breathe in the dust-filled air.

Although the politicians think it might have been an attack, the authorities think terrorism. Gwen is not sure what to make of it, but since the diner is closed due to there being a big hole in the ground where her kitchen should be, she’s got time to figure it out.

There were a couple of strangers at the diner, just visiting the area. The man ended up in the basement but his wife did not. Once you think about it, his story doesn’t make sense. Then there’s Gwen’s worry about being sued by her employees. They seem to think that since the money’s not coming out of Gwen’s pocket, who’s hurt? Gwen feels family doesn’t sue.

Gwen does manage to fit in a bit of romance along the way. Captain Health, aka Kane, is a younger guy but very attentive. His alter ego, dressed as a super hero, visits children in the hospital. Gwen doesn’t think there’s a future there, but it’s nice while it’s going on.

Although Gwen talks a lot more than most people, and adds side stories as she goes, once you get the hang of her style of speaking, it’s a good read. The clues are there but you have to pay attention to see them.

This is the sixth in the series: A Brisket A Casket, One Foot in the Gravy, A Killer in the Rye, From Herring to Eternity, and To Kill a Matzo Ball are the previous books.

To enter to win a copy of all 3 food mysteries, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “pickles,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 7, 2015. U.S. residents only.

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

If you enjoy food mysteries, why not check out KRL’s food column How I Met My Dinner where you will find out about some great food & get recipes!

Click on this link to purchase any of these books:

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the arch, in the land of blues, booze and shoes—St Louis, Missouri. While writing magazine articles to support her mystery book habit, she secretly polishes two mystery books of her own, hoping, someday, they will see the light of Barnes and Noble. You can also find several of Sandra’s short stories on UnTreed Reads including her new one Bananas Foster.


  1. Oh Sandra, I’m a cozy mystery fan from way back. Love these three authors and their works. Thank you for the chance to win!
    Sandy in So. California

  2. These books sound like great reads. Thank you for the chance to win them. I have added them to my TBR list.
    Please enter me in the contest.
    Thank you.

  3. All of these sound GREAT for us Cozy Readers!

  4. YUMMY!! How can there be so many food mysteries?!?!

  5. So fun! I love cozies and I love food — would love to read these. 🙂

  6. Glad to hear that there’s a new book from Mary Ellen Hughes coming out. Her mysteries are always fun.

  7. I am addicted to culinary cozies! All three of theses authors are awesome. Can’t wait to read the latest releases. Thanks for the review & giveaway. Fingers crossed!

    Scouts579 (at) aol (dot) com

  8. thank you for such a great selection for the giveaway!!!

  9. They all sound great~love cozies and love these titles. Thank you for the chance to win~a good way to spend these snowbound days and unsnowbound days, too! Thank you for another terrific contest!

  10. I’m fairly new to Cozy Mysteries, but I’m loving them and all the reviews I’ve read. I have a lot of catching up to do. These three books all sound like great fun and I would love to read them all. Thank you for introducing me to three more authors and their work.

  11. These sound like ‘deliciously’ good reads I would love to win.

  12. We have a winner
    Lorie Ham, KRL Publisher


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