Death Unfiltered By Emmeline Duncan: Review/Giveaway/Recipes

Apr 6, 2024 | 2024 Articles, Food Fun, Lorie Lewis Ham, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Lorie Lewis Ham & Emmeline Duncan

This week we have a review of the latest Ground Rules Mystery by Emmeline Duncan, along with some delicious recipes from Emmeline. 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.

Death Unfiltered by Emmeline Duncan
Review by Lorie Lewis Ham

I love coffee, and some of my favorite mysteries are set in coffeeshops. Cleo Coyle’s Coffeehouse Mysteries was the first series to introduce me to this wonderful combination, and a few years ago I discovered another coffee-related mystery series, the Ground Rules Mysteries by Emmeline Duncan. The Ground Rules Series is also set in one of my favorite places, Portland, Oregon. The fourth book, Death Unfiltered, was released recently.

When the series began, Sage Caplin and her partner Harpley Yamazaki had a coffee cart and a roastery. Now in the latest book, their dream of having a brick-and-mortar coffeeshop has finally come true. Ground Rules is one of several micro-restaurants in Portland’s brand-new Button Building. Everyone there is great, with just a couple of exceptions. One of those is Rose, a true-crime podcaster and TikToker who is pushing Sage for an interview about her estranged con artist mother and is covering the grand opening. The other is Bianca, the owner of Breakfast Bandits. Bianca has been a thorn in Sage’s side for a while, not that Sage feels she has ever given her a reason. When Bianca collapses and dies during their grand opening with a to-go cup of Ground Rules coffee in her hand, Sage is afraid it may be their opening and closing because of course she becomes a prime suspect—especially after Bianca’s boyfriend and business partner points the police toward her. But Sage wasn’t the only one there who wasn’t all that fond of Bianca and who had a motive to kill her. Rose announces that she is going to solve the murder and Sage reluctantly agrees to work with her. Thanks to the podcast about her mother, we also learn more about Sage’s past in this book.

Not only does Emmeline write a well-crafted mystery, but she also creates relatable and likable characters. Reading a book in this series is like visiting with old friends. Sage is a capable, good-hearted, loyal, and determined person. Her fiancé Bax owns a gaming company called Grumpy Sasquatch Studio, and his son is adorable. While Sage’s mother is dead, she has plenty of loving family members to surround her, including her retired cop father, her lawyer brother, and her uncle who happens to own the Button Building. We are introduced to some new baristas in this book, my favorite being Colton—I hope he sticks around.

The mystery was filled with plenty of twists and turns and some big surprises at the end! If you love a good mystery with great characters and great coffee you won’t want to miss this series! I can’t wait for the next book! There are also some delicious recipes in the back. And there’s even a cat. What more could you ask for? Grab your favorite cup of coffee, find a cozy spot, and dive in. You will be glad you did!

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and a contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds. Explore Lorie’s mystery writing at Mysteryrat’s Closet. Lorie’s latest mystery novel, One of Us, is set in the Tower District of Fresno and the world of community theatre!<

Ground Rules Recipes
By Emmeline Duncan

Here are two recipes from the Ground Rules kitchen that are perfect for spring afternoons when you’re looking for a sweet treat with a light but delicious touch. Both of these make an appearance in Death Unfiltered.

Ground Rules Blondies
These blondies, with their naturally nutty flavor, have consistently been a hit at potlucks and barbecues. The best part about this blondie recipe is that it’s naturally gluten-free as long as you use certified GF oat flour and also dairy-free since oil. But you can’t tell from the taste. If you didn’t tell anyone these are GF, no one would know. So if you need to bring a GF dessert to Easter, or a baby shower, or just want to bake a nutty dessert for yourself, the Ground Rules Blondies is a fun choice.

Photo by Kim Davis

• ·1 cup almond flour & oat flour mix (either ¾ almond flour and ¼ cup oat flour; or ½ and ½)
• ·1 cup brown sugar
• ·1 teaspoon baking powder
• ·½ teaspoon salt
• ·1 large egg
• ·? cup canola oil
• ·1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350° F.
Line an 8-by-8-inch pan with parchment paper (or grease the pan well, but honestly, use parchment paper; the cleanup is much easier).
Mix the brown sugar, flour, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. Using a fork, blend the dry ingredients.
Add the oil, egg, and vanilla extract to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon (or similar). The batter will feel more like cookie dough than brownie or cake batter.
Pour the dough into the waiting 8-by-8-inch pan and use the wooden spoon to spread it out.
Bake for 25–30 minutes. One way to check if the blondies are done is to insert a toothpick into the middle of the pan; you want it to be mostly crumb-free when you pull the toothpick out.
Cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then carefully lift the blondies using the parchment paper and cool on a wire rack. Slice into squares once the blondies are fully cooled.
Note: You can use all-purpose flour, but your blondies won’t have the chewy, nutty taste that makes this recipe shine. As written, this recipe is gluten-free if you use GF oat flour and is naturally dairy-free.

London Fog
Legend has it that the London Fog was created by a coffee house in Vancouver, BC, for a pregnant customer who couldn’t drink coffee but missed her morning latte. So the barista combined tea, steamed milk, and vanilla simple syrup, and the drink was born. When asked its name, the barista said “London Fog” because the cloudy texture of the drink looks like the fog in London. Is this the truth? I have no idea. But the drink is delicious and easy to make at home.
While this is an excellent hot drink, I’ve found that sitting outside with an iced London fog is a fun way to enjoy the sunshine when the weather starts to warm up. The vanilla simple syrup turns this into a sweet treat.

Iced London Fog
London Fog Ingredients
• Black tea (Earl Gray is standard, but you can sub in a different black tea if desired)
• Milk/cream (oat milk and other nondairy milk work great!)
• Vanilla simple syrup (recipe below)
• Ice

Brew your tea, and be sure to leave room for the milk and vanilla simple syrup. It’s okay to brew the tea a little strong, meaning slightly less water than a usual cup since you’re adding milk. Most black teas have a brewing time of 3–5 minutes; do not over-brew, or your tea will turn bitter.
Once your tea is brewed, pour it into a mason jar or glass. Add a teaspoon of simple syrup or to taste. If you want a sweeter drink, add more along with your milk of choice, and fill with ice.
Stir, and enjoy! If you want to feel fancy, sprinkle your tea with dried lavender, which you can buy as a dried spice for culinary uses. Just be sure to use a small pinch because it’s potent.

Vanilla Simple Syrup:
• ½ cup water
• ½ cup sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix the water and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then remove the pan from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Let it cool. Pour the syrup into a mason jar or other container and store it in the fridge.
Note: You can easily cut this recipe in half to make a smaller amount of syrup or double it for a larger batch. It’s forgiving—and delicious.

You can click here to purchase this book.

To enter to win a copy of Death Unfiltered, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “unfiltered” 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.

Like her Ground Rules Mystery series, Emmeline Duncan is based in Portland, Oregon. Her series includes Fresh Brewed Murder, Double Shot Death, Flat White Fatality, and Death Unfiltered, plus more to come. She’s also the author of Chaos at the Lazy Bones Bookshop, which comes out in July 2024. When not writing, she spends her time seeking out new coffee shops and hiking trails to explore, frequently accompanied by her Great Pyrenees sidekick. You can track her online at

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. Get to read a good story and get
    some good recipes to try. Sounds
    like a winner. thanks

  2. Sounds interesting! Count me in!

  3. Sounds good and love the cover! Thanks for the recipe! I’ll have to try it for my dad.

  4. Love the cover. Sounds like a book I would really enjoy reading.

  5. We have a winner!


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