A High Tide Murder By Emily George: Review/Giveaway/Interview

Apr 6, 2024 | 2024 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Cynthia Chow

This week we review the latest Cannabis Cafe Mystery by Emily George, and we have a fun interview with Emily. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book and a link to purchase the book from Amazon.

A High Tide Murder: A Cannabis Café Mystery by Emily George
Review by Cynthia Chow

It was an avalanche of unfortunate events that led professional pastry chef Chloe Barnes to return home to Azalea Bay, but she has never been happier. Helping her grandmother recover from chemo treatments introduced Chloe to the study of cannabis production and use, which in turn has her now opening her very own Baked by Chloe café. While initially the coastal California town was not entirely welcoming of her cannabis-infused treats due to their fears of having a “drug” business in their neighborhood, she has since won most of them over with her delicious, relaxing, and often very medicinal creations. Chloe has also bonded with local Dungeons & Dragons adventurers, who help to introduce her to the athletes competing in the Azalea Bay Pro Challenger Surf Competition. While normally one would think that the surfers would have a laid-back, weed-friendly attitude towards the competition, tempers are high and an early death is written off by the police as a suicide.

Chloe’s friend Matt Wilson doesn’t accept that Aaron Gill would ever have taken his own life, and he convinces Chloe to once again dive into the investigation to find the truth. So when not creating delicious black sesame desserts and apricot and cardamom macarons, Chloe leaves the café in the hands of her trusted employees and begins looking into the young surfer’s death. Her spotting a burglar fleeing Aaron’s hotel room in the middle of the night has her more than convinced that something shady is afoot, and the more she learns about the surfers’ tempestuous romances and relationships the more she suspects that Aaron was indeed murdered.

This second in the series is sure to open readers’ minds to the use and attributes of cannabis and THC-infused treats. It’s not just brownies that are baked with cannabis butter (recipes included), but cookies, drinks, and even bath products have the soothing ingredient. Chloe’s aunt and her competitive freestyle dancing canine make an appearance, but it’s the world of competitive surfing that takes center stage. Chloe is very serious about her Michelin-starred pastry chef baking skills, and she focuses all of her talent into creating the best tasting and best quality delights. Not everyone is as thrilled with her “drug-dealing” influence though, and social media threats indicate some bumpy roads in her future. But for now, Chloe continues to revel in her new home and new friend as she helps and heals her family. This charming, smart, and very engaging lead character is sure to make fans of this series that takes readers into the unexpectedly cozy world of cannabis use and baking.

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).

Interview with Emily George:

KRL: How long have you been writing?

Emily: Ever since I was a little girl. In fact, I used to write and illustrate books for my younger sister when we were kids, and I even went through a stage of writing my own Choose Your Own Adventure-style books. Professionally, I’ve been writing since 2012 and published since 2014, so this year is my ten-year anniversary of being a published author!

KRL: When did your first novel come out? What was it called? Can you tell us a little about it?

Emily George

Emily: My first book was a Harlequin category romance called Only the Brave Try Ballet published as Stefanie London in July 2014. The story is set in Melbourne and features an AFL (Aussie football) player who reluctantly takes ballet lessons as part of an injury rehabilitation program. His teacher is a former professional ballerina who had to give up her career after a car accident left her with lasting injuries that impacted her ability to dance in pointe shoes. It’s sweet, sexy, and was a load of fun to write.

KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense? If not, what else have you written?

Emily: After that first Harlequin romance, I went on to write more than 35 more romance novels, specifically in the contemporary romance and romantic comedy subgenres. But I’ve always had a passion for mysteries, and it’s my favorite genre to read. My husband was a little suspicious at first that after so many years of writing happily-ever-afters I suddenly wanted to fictionally murder people! But I’m having a blast, and now I write cozy mysteries as Emily George and thrillers/domestic suspense as S.J. Short.

KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series? It is a very unique setting.

Emily: Thank you! Azalea Bay came to me like a flash of lightning. It was a very unique writing experience because normally I spend a long time thinking about my settings before I start a new series. For some reason, with this series, I had a very clear picture of the town I wanted to write from the word go. And the sleuth, Chloe, also came to me in a similar fashion. She popped into my head, fully formed and very chatty, so when I sat down to start writing, it was like she’d been there all along. If only all books could be like that!

KRL: Do you write to entertain, or is there something more you want the readers to experience from your work?

Emily: I always hope that my readers will feel something when they read one of my books. If they’re entertained, fantastic! But I really love it when I can teach my readers about something, whether it’s a cooking technique or a fun tidbit about a random subject, like surfing or the life of a professional mermaid. It might be because I’m an eternal student. I love watching documentaries and falling down internet research rabbit holes, so being able to share some of the random knowledge I collect along the way with my readers always makes me happy.

KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?

Emily: I’m definitely a creature of routine. I write full time, Monday to Friday, aiming for a general word count each day. Sometimes I finish the words in only a few hours, and other times it takes all day with lots of breaks to stare into space. There are some days where the words don’t come at all because I need to puzzle over a plot point or go back and change something from earlier in the story. But opening the manuscript regularly keeps the story feeling fresh and makes it easier to write, so I definitely like to make time with my characters each day if I can.

KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?

Emily: I have one foot in the outlining/planning camp and one foot in the “writing by the seat of my pants” camp. I go through a process of character excavation before I start a book to understand the who, what, and why of my characters. For cozy mysteries, this means not only understanding my sleuth but also the murder victim and key suspects. Most of the time, I know who the killer is, but sometimes I’m not sure until I start writing. I will often have a handful of scene ideas, but the story itself is usually the “writing by the seat of my pants” aspect of my process. I don’t plot out the story scene-by-scene in advance or determine exactly what happens after the body is found until I’m actually working on the manuscript. Then I keep a notes document as I write to jot down any future scene ideas or things that need to be fixed or added in later.

KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?

Emily: I like to start in the morning but not too early. I find my brain is most productive from about 10 a.m. until dinner time, so I start as soon as I can and then go until I’ve either hit my word count or until I can’t “see” any further into the story. Toward the end of the book, however, I find the story pours out of me, and I can easily double my usual word count for the last few chapters of the book.

KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?

Emily: I have one of those rare publishing stories where I managed to sell the first book I ever wrote. It was a combination of good genre and publisher research, cosmic timing, hard work, and luck. Some aspects of getting published are in our control, and some are not, and I managed to have the stars line up in the right way, thankfully! But I’ve had plenty of ups and downs since. Being an author takes a deep love of what we do and a thick skin, that’s for sure.

KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?

Emily: I once had a face-to-face rejection at a conference during an editor pitch that was so humiliating I cried in my hotel room afterward. I’m still grateful to the kind souls who gave me a hug and dragged me back into the workshops and told me to keep going. The funny thing was that I already had my manuscript in with the publisher (via a different editor), and they went on to buy the book. So, one editor’s rejection is not always a reflection on your talent or your story!

KRL: Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?

Emily: I’m not sure if they still do this, but at the old Romance Writers of America conferences the publishers used to have their own signings, and they would give the books away for free. They were fun, whirlwind events because we would have hundreds of people come through in an hour—readers, writers, book bloggers and media—and in 2019 I was up for a big award, so I had four different signings to attend. I lost my voice by the end of it all! It was great fun, though. I got to meet so many amazing people.

KRL: Future writing goals?

Emily: Is it cliché to say I’d love to see one of my books turned into a movie or TV series? That would be incredible.

KRL: Not at all I can imagine that would be amazing. Writing heroes?

Emily: I have so many, but I have to say the queen of mystery, Agatha Christie. Her writing inspired me so much when I was a teenager, and it really fostered a love of the mystery genre for me. For some modern examples, I think Roni Loren writes the most thoughtful, character-driven romance. Sally Hepworth writes incredible family drama/mystery books with unique characters, and she captures the Australia setting perfectly. For cozy mysteries, I read Tara Lush’s A Coffee Lover’s Mystery series recently and thoroughly enjoyed it for the great characters and quirky, ultra-immersive Florida setting.

KRL: What kind of research do you do?

Emily: All different kinds! I talk to people in specific jobs, listen to podcasts, read Reddit posts, watch documentaries, devour nonfiction, as well as articles and source material online. One of my best resources are YouTube “day in the life” videos where real people share what they do in a day for their job. Hearing someone explain their job in their own words really helps me get a feeling for it.

KRL: What do you read?

Emily: A bit of everything! Mystery is my primary genre, particularly cozy and thriller/domestic suspense. But I also enjoy some historical fiction, nonfiction, high and urban fantasy, dystopian, family drama, book club fiction, sci-fi, romance, etc. Occasionally I’ll pick up a graphic novel or manga, usually borrowed from my sister. I like variety. Because of this, I also read across both adult and young adult fiction.

KRL: Favorite TV or movies?

Emily: I’m not the biggest TV/movie watcher, admittedly. But I did finally watch White Lotus a few months back after people recommended it for quite a while, and I did enjoy it, even if all the characters made me want to pull my hair out! My favorite movies of all time (the rare few that get a rewatch from me) are some of the OG Guy Ritchie films like Snatch, RocknRolla, etc. I’ve been meaning to watch the new TV series based on his movie The Gentleman too.

KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?

Emily: Keep going. No matter what challenges you face, they can be worked through. We’re tougher than we think, and no matter how many times you hear “no,” only you decide when to quit. Also, this job can be hard, so have a good support system around you—both writers and non-writers. Knowing who you can turn to when you need to vent about a rejection or edits or a bad review or when you’re horribly stuck on a book is super important.

KRL: Anything you would like to add?

Emily: Thank you so much for having me!

KRL: Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

Emily: When my husband and I decided to move to Canada in 2014, we got our visas, packed two suitcases each, and moved without job or a place to live. Looking back on it now, it was such a risk, and I can’t quite believe we did it! Thankfully it all worked out.

KRL: Website? Social Media?

Emily: emily-george.com

You can click here to purchase this book.

To enter to win a copy of A High Tide Murder, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “high tide” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April 13, 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.

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. Haven’t had any experience with cannabis.
    Might learn from this book. thanks

  2. I think this is the first cozy series set in a cannabis confectionery.

  3. Sounds good!

  4. Interesting storyline. Sounds like a great book.

  5. Love the question and answer part! The book looks and sounds amazing!!!

  6. We have a winner!


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