Murder with Collard Greens and Hot Sauce By A. L. Herbert: Review/Giveaway/Interview

Apr 6, 2019 | 2019 Articles, Food Fun, Mysteryrat's Maze, Sandra Murphy

by Sandra Murphy

This week we have a review of another fun food mystery, Murder with Collard Greens and Hot Sauce by A.L. Herbert, and an interesting interview with A.L. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Murder with Collard Greens and Hot Sauce. There is also a link to purchase it Amazon, and an indie bookstore where a portion of the sale goes to help support KRL.

Murder with Collard Greens and Hot Sauce: A Mahalia Watkins Soul Food Mystery
By A. L. Herbert

Review by Sandra Murphy

Halia and Wavonne are at it again: another murder, another can’t-resist-it-investigation by Halia. Latasha is hosting Monique, famous in the haircare industry for her products like Sleek, a relaxant for African-American hair. She’s flamboyant, flashy, and loud—and a treat to meet. Halia and Wavonne are invited to Latasha’s salon to do just that. Of course, once Monique hears about the mouth-watering fried chicken and biscuits Halia serves at Mahalia’s Sweet Tea, she and her entourage just have to try it.

Scheduled to leave on a multi-city tour, Monique is in a good mood. As a sendoff, she hosts a “white party” which means all the guests have to wear white. She wears a fabulous sapphire blue dress in order to be the center of attention. Her frenemy, Odessa, shows up in a red sequined number, bound to get her in trouble with Monique. mystery

Thanks to Halia’s soul food, the pair are invited to the party and, in order not to be embarrassed, are dressed to the nines by none other than Maurice, Monique’s hairdresser and stylist. Wavonne is beyond excited. Add a few gin and tonics and Halia better keep close tabs on her.

When Monique is found shot, there are a number of suspects: her cheating husband, Odessa, Maurice who knows a lot of secrets and has some of his own, jealous stylists, and lovers. In the end, the clues fall into place and Halia is able to reveal the killer’s identity in the classic “you’re all wondering why I called you together” style.

I like Halia’s laid-back style which is in high contrast to Wavonne’s over the top personality. Halia is a blue polo shirt, khaki slacks gal, and Wavonne, she’s tight jeans, a sparkly top, green eye shadow, four-inch heels, and tall hair. Wavonne can get the two of them into trouble without even trying. She knows no embarrassment which is bound to lead to humorous situations. Halia doesn’t put herself into danger but is willing to snoop without apology, especially to the lead detective. Herbert serves up a rollicking read, a good mystery, and characters you won’t forget.

Recipes are included throughout the book: Celia’s Butter Pecan Cake, Halia’s Smothered Pork Chops, Halia’s Collard Greens, and Halia’s Purple Rain Iced Tea. Keep in mind, Halia makes comfort food which translates to “this is no diet plate.” Be prepared to drool on the pages.

This is the third book in the series. Book one, Murder with Fried Chicken and Waffles, was also reviewed here.

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the Arch in St. Louis Missouri. She writes about eco-friendly topics, pets and wildlife for magazines and reviews mysteries and thrillers for KRL. A collection of her short stories, published by Untreed Reads, From Hay to Eternity: Ten Tales of Crime and Deception can be found at all the usual outlets. Each one is a little weird and all have a twist you won’t see coming.

Interview with AL Herbert:

KRL: How long have you been writing?

A.L.: I’ve been doing business/proposal writing for 20+ years and fiction writing almost as long.

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

A.L.: A.L. Herbert is a pen name. I’ve also written books under Patrick Sanchez. My first came out in 2001. It’s called Girlfriends. It’s sort of a Sex and the City meets Ally McBeal-type book.

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

A.L.: I’ve also written what we used to call “Chick Lit”…Devils Wears Prada/Bridget Jones-type books under Patrick Sanchez (Girlfriends, The Way It Is, Tight, and Once Upon a Nervous Breakdown).


Animation of Halia and Wavonne

KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series? Please tell us a little about the setting and main character for your most recent book.

A.L.: When the “Chick Lit” market became mostly a thing of the past I needed to reinvent myself and my writing, and I thought a culinary mystery would be fun. There were very few of these books with prominent characters that were people of color, so I figured I’d write one. The books are set in Prince George’s County, Maryland, where I spent much of my childhood. Halia Watkins owns the best soul food restaurant and in town and dabbles in murder solving in between running a restaurant.

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

A.L.: Really just to entertain and, hopefully, be good for a few laughs.

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

A.L.: I just write when I can absolutely no longer procrastinate about it. Getting in the chair and getting it “done” always has been and always will be a struggle.

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?

A.L.: I do generally do an outline, but the final book often goes in different directions from what was in the original outline.

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

A.L.: There is no good time. It’s maddening any time of the day, but it would be nice to have some words on paper in the morning to have a sense of accomplishment early in the day.

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

A.L.: It was a process, but I was fortunate that the type of book I was selling (single women making their way in the city) was in demand at the time I was sending out queries. I’m one of the few people that sold my first book directly to a publisher without an agent.

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

A.L.: I got a form rejection letter once that had the name of someone else’s book pasted into it. I was also invited to speak about my first book at a local senior center, but my earlier books were a bit racy and after they’d read one, they called back and politely said the material was too R-rated for them and canceled the talk.

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

A.L.: The stores always give me a chair. I prefer to stand and almost always….without fail, at some point, some man who’s been dragged around shopping by his wife all day will plop down in my chair behind the book display.

KRL: Future writing goals?

A.L.: One of these days I’d like to write a WWII drama.

KRL: Writing heroes?

A.L.: I have a soft spot for writers who make me laugh: Armistead Maupin, Laura Levine, Kevin Kwan. I’m also a sucker for WWII fiction: Ken Follet, Kristen Hannah. I’m also a fan of Tony McMillan and E. Lyn Harris.

KRL: What kind of research do you do?

A.L.: I do a lot of research about how restaurants are managed and the antics that go on with the staff by talking to people in the industry. My latest book is set in the world of hair salons, so I talked with a lot of hair dressers and did a lot of research online.

KRL: What do you read?

A.L.: I mostly listen to books these days. At the moment I’m listening to The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory.

KRL: Favorite TV or movies?

A.L.: Of all time: The Golden Girls…watch them almost every night before bed. Currently I’m watching Schitt’s Creek on Netflix and find it hysterical.

KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?

A.L.: I struggle with this myself, but my best advice would be to try to not censor yourself as your writing….just write what comes to you and know that it doesn’t have to be good and much of it probably won’t be good…but some of it likely will and those are the parts you’ll go with and expand upon. And, I must say, all the best story ideas come while I’m tapping away on the keyboard writing….they never come when I’m trying to think a plot through in the car or on the treadmill. Just write about anything. If something funny happened, write about it….if something sad happened, write about it….keep what works or sparks more ideas and table the rest for another project. Sometimes as you’re writing about something completely unrelated to something you wrote days or months before you’ll figure out how the two can be part of the same story and how that other piece you wrote last month can be worked in.

KRL: Anything you would like to add?

A.L.: Not off hand.

KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

A.L.: That I enjoy developing and put huge amounts of effort into the recipes for the Soul Food Mystery books but rarely cook for myself. I enjoying cooking for friends a few times a year, but when left to my own devices, I mostly eat out.

KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?


To enter to win a copy of Murder with Collard Greens and Hot Sauce, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “collard greens,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April 13, 2019. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address (so if you win we can get the book sent right out to you), and if via comment please include your email address. 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. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters read by local actors. A new episode went up this week.

Use this link to purchase the book & a portion goes to help support KRL & indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy:

You can also use this link to purchase the book on Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases using those links. 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. Captivating and entertaining story. Thanks.

  2. Love the title. New to me series and author. I’d love to win.

  3. I’m a sucker for books with a food theme so the Mahalia Watkins Soul Food Mystery series sounds right up my alley. Thanks for the chance to win this one. crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com

  4. A.L. Herbert’s books are always interesting. Thanks for including Murder with Collard Greens on your blog and the interview with A.L. My fingers are crossed. robeader53(at)

  5. This is another new author to me. I enjoyed the review of the book and I’m looking forward to starting a new series.

  6. Love the title! JL_Minter (at) hotmail (dot) com

  7. I enjoyed the first 2 books of the series and have anxiously been waiting for book 3!
    Really enjoyed reading the interview.

  8. Sounds like a great read.

  9. Not a big collard green fan, but I do love a good mystery!

  10. I love this series.

  11. Sounds fun!

  12. We have a winner!


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