April Food Mysteries From Penguin

Apr 11, 2015 | 2015 Articles, Food Fun, Mysteryrat's Maze, Sandra Murphy

by Sandra Murphy

This week we have some more fun food mysteries from Penguin-Lemon Pies and Little White Lies by Ellery Adams, Steeped in Evil by Laura Childs, and Murder She Wrote, Killer in the Kitchen by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain. Details at the end of this post on how to win copies of all 3 books, and a link to purchase them.

Lemon Pies and Little White Lies by Ellery Adams
Review by Sandra Murphy

Ella Mae’s life is full with the success of her pie shop and her increased role as leader of the magical people in her community. It’s time the Morgans and the LeFayes make peace to bring their magic back to full strength. But not everyone is willing to do that.

There’s a massive storm brewing off the coast of Scotland. Ella’s aunts think it’s the work of another magical, a woman called Nimue. One of Ella’s customers has a daughter in Scotland, so Ella takes her a pie as comfort.

On arrival at the house, it seems empty, but the back door is unlocked, there’s a strong smell of gas and there’s a dead woman in the bathtub—not Ella’s customer, a stranger. book

Ella’s been off her game since her boyfriend, Hugh Dylan, left town to search for a way to regain his powers. His communications have been spotty at best. As the storms move across the ocean, headed for the States, she finally gets a message that Hugh’s coming home.

Ella has always been able to bake her feelings into her pies. In order to deal with Hugh’s absence, she puts all her feelings for him into a pie and freezes it. She’s not exactly happy, but is able to function and to lead the other magicals.

Of course, all this happens just as she’s also trying to run the first annual History of Baking Festival. Bakers are arriving from all over to enter the various contests. Vacationers are en route to taste all the pies they can.
Even though Ella’s determined to keep her feelings for Hugh on ice (literally) and love him, and only him, forever, there’s a complication in the form of Finn. He’s the son of the woman Ella found dead. Once in town, he is able to see what his mother liked about it so much and decides to move there.

Aunt Dee seems to have a bit of romance going on, as well. Ella visits the barn/studio where Dee and her friend are making metal bird sculptures. Later, the barn catches fire, Dee is burned badly and her friend is killed. That’s the last straw for Ella. It’s time to stop Nimue.

The good news is, the festival brought a number of magicals to town who are eager (or not) to find out how the Morgans and LeFayes can join forces. It’s up to Ella to make sure that happens, even though Hugh is back and it looks like he’s hooked up with Nimue.

As always, lots of magic, humor and a good story to boot. Chewy, Ella’s Jack Russell, is a delight. The story moves along with an ending I didn’t see coming. I’m looking forward to the next book to see what possibly can happen next. In the meantime, you can read Adam’s other series, the Book Retreat Mysteries, as Murder in the Paperback Parlor, second in that series, will be out in August. She’s also written six Books by the Bay mysteries. This is the fourth magical book and best read in order—look for reviews of all the series in the KRL archives. Since this is a book about pie, there are recipes: the leprechaun, peach blackberry, strawberry muffin, and lemon pies, plus a few Ella just tells you how to make as you read.

Steeped in Evil by Laura Childs
Review by Sandra Murphy

Sure, Theodosia enjoys a glass of wine, but tea is really her thing. Still, when invited to a wine tasting, why turn it down?

Just as Jordan, the vintner, makes his big speech to introduce Knight Music, workers begin to open the wine barrel. Jordan calls for his son, Eric, to take the stage, too, but there’s no sign of him so the speech goes on. Unfortunately, the wine barrel begins to tip and the workers can’t stop if from falling over. When it opens, gushing wine all over, the mystery of Where’s Eric? is solved. His now-purple body is in the wine.

Jordan is a friend of Drayton, Theodosia’s right hand man. They’re asked to make some discreet inquiries in addition to what the Sheriff is doing to find out who killed Eric. It seems it was not an accident, nor a drowning by wine. A bullet did Eric in. book

Theodosia’s boyfriend is not too happy about her investigation. For a while, things were strained between them. Of course, there are a lot of distractions. Business is booming at the tea shop, especially with the sold out Downton Abbey tea event. Haley is, as always, beyond organized in the kitchen, Drayton a superstar where tea blends are concerned and Theodosia, perfect in every way. Couldn’t she have just one flaw?

There are a number of suspects: the vineyard manager, the maybe-evil stepmother, the model girlfriend, wine competitors, a drug dealer perhaps, even the Japanese company which wants to buy in. Theodosia has her work cut out for her.

I was glad to see Detective Tidwell make an appearance, even though the murder was out of his jurisdiction. He’s always a treat. Even with organizing the Art Crawl, Max got to spend more time with Theodosia. Earl Grey, her dog, is a welcome addition to any page. Delaine is her usual over-the-top self. She’s got a new love interest!

A good tale, great food talk with the only drawback that Theodosia feels the need to chase after the murderer—on foot and all dressed up.

This is the 15th book in the series, the paperback edition of last March’s hard cover edition. Childs also writes the scrapbooking mysteries (12 books) and the Cackleberry Club series (six books).

Murder She Wrote, Killer in the Kitchen by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain
Review by Sandra Murphy

At Thanksgiving dinner with the Sheriff and Maureen, a dozen or so friends are delighted to hear that Isabelle’s son, Brad, and daughter-in-law, Marcie, are opening a restaurant. Isabelle not only has complete faith in them, she’s mortgaged her house and taken out a personal loan to help finance it.

Brad’s known to be hot-tempered but with the pressure of gutting an old restaurant and starting new, he’s worse than ever. When Girard Lebeouf, celebrity chef, decides to open a French restaurant right across the street, tensions really go into high gear. Lebeouf has a summer home in Cabot Cove, but until now seldom visited. His wife, an ex-model with her own line of personal products, seems disinterested in the whole thing. Son Wiley, a little old for the rebellious stage, has a problem with drugs (using and selling) and with a father he can’t respect. book

Lebeouf reserves a table for ten on opening night at Brad’s place. Instead of being the gracious man he purports to be, he and his guests spend their time making rude comments loud enough for other diners to hear. When he makes one directly to Isabelle, her happy evening is ruined. In the kitchen, she collapses. Seth, Jessica’s doctor companion at dinner, rushes Isabelle to the hospital. She’s had a massive stroke.

Brad blames Lebeouf. After an ugly scene, Brad goes to his mother’s side, leaving poor Marcie in charge.Isabelle’s death the following morning, only adds to Brad’s hatred of Lebeouf.

Brad and Marcie mean well, but neither has restaurant experience, and a few classes are not enough to deal with
high end dining, and competition across the road—especially when Lebeouf offers all opening night meals for free—and a theft from their kitchen.

When Chef Chang finds Lebeouf dead, Brad is the most likely suspect. He, of course, can’t keep his mouth shut, lies and makes matters worse. Jessica had interviewed Lebeouf a few years before for a book she started to write but didn’t finish. Now she goes back to her original notes, adds current events and does a little snooping. The state police and FBI are not pleased.In fact, why is the FBI involved? It seems Lebeouf might have had ties to the mob. It sure would explain the two thugs who are constantly on hand.

Once again, Jessica is able to follow the clues to the right conclusion and let the Sheriff take the credit. As always, a satisfying read. Be warned though, all the food talk will make you hungry!

This is the 43rd book in the series. In counting how many, I see I’ve missed more than I thought and will have to backtrack. Luckily, they can be read out of order with no problem.

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 “April Food,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April 18, 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. What a wonderful birthday gift this would make for me! Thanks for opportunity to win a copy — all are wonderful authors!

  2. Love the reviews. Each book is on my TBR wish list!

  3. Thank you so much for the giveaway! These books sound awesome. 🙂

  4. The Murder She Wrote mystery series is one of my favorites, and I love Laura Childs’s cozy mysteries. I haven’t read Ellery Adams yet but this would be a great opportunity to start. Thx for the giveaway opportunity.

  5. Always happy to a read a good mystery that involves food… or a cat… not necessarily in that order.

  6. Oh, no!!! More foodie mysteries. YUM!!!

  7. Each of these books sound wonderful. I know the authors and I know they all write very good books. Would love to win.

  8. So many great book. Love the title Lemon Pies and little white lies.

    xzjh04@ Gmail.com

  9. These food mysteries certainly give one –do I dare say it?–food for thought, especially the Bain mystery! I sincerely hope that Mr. Bain continues to turn out (or should I say CHJURN out?) the delightfull novels for years to come!

  10. These look so fun!

  11. Love foodie mysteries.
    thanks for the chance to win these.

  12. I would love to win these books. Cozy mysteries are my favorite type.

  13. Food and mystery – sounds like winners to me!!

  14. Love all the descriptions! Would make a great Mother’s Day gift for myself. A hot cup of tea, a lemon bar, a great day!

  15. Culinary cozies are my favorite. Awesome giveaways. Three great series. Fingers crossed!
    Scouts579 (at) aol (dot) com

  16. We have a winner
    Lorie Ham, KRL Publisher

  17. I’ve already read Laura Child’s Steeped in Evil book and it was very good…I like that series. The other books are written by authors I’m not familiar with but both sound intriguing. Good luck to everyone…whoops, see there is a winner…well, congratulations!


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