A California Magazine with Local Focus and Global Appeal:
Community - Entertainment - Human Interest


Weekly issues every Saturday morning and other special articles throughout the week — there's something for everyone. Check out our sister site KRL News & Reviews for even more articles every week.

Previous post:

Next post:


Shrimply Dead By Maggie Toussaint: Review/Giveaway/Earth Day Guest Post

IN THE April 17 ISSUE

FROM THE 2021 Articles,
andCynthia Chow,
andFood Fun,
andGoing Green,
andMysteryrat's Maze
SECTIONS

by Cynthia Chow
& Maggie Toussaint

This week we have a review of Shrimply Dead by Maggie Toussaint, along with an interesting plant related guest post for Earth Day! Details at the end of the post on how to enter to win an ebook copy of the book and a link to order it from Amazon.

Shrimply Dead: A Seafood Caper Mystery by Maggie Toussaint
Review by Cynthia Chow

The owner of Shell Island’s Holloway Catering, River Holloway Merrick is thrilled to have been hired to cater the Nature Coalition’s special event dinner. She’s especially honored to be serving veterinarian Jasmine Garr as they name her their Volunteer of the Year, which makes hearing the news of her death two days later all the more shocking. Found shot in the back in her yard, Jasmine’s quirky Chicken Lady neighbor becomes one of the first suspects for the shooting. Not trusting the detestable Sheriff Vargas to conduct a thorough investigation, River’s friends quickly pressure her into once again investigating death on their small Shell Island. Only twelve miles long and at most two miles wide, the connections between locals are close with rumors flying fast and furious.

Starting her investigation at Jasmine’s veterinary clinic leads not just to a temporary fill-in position as a much-needed receptionist, but as a foster/forever mom for Jasmine’s traumatized cat. Bringing in another feline into the home River already shares with her new husband Pete and aggressively irritable cat Major will be easy compared to appeasing the combative sheriff and a murderer not happy to have her meddling in his business. Soon River discovers a love triangle, jealous cousin, and another veterinarian hungry for Jasmine’s business. Further complicating matters is Jasmine’s YouTube channel, which recorded her obsessed mission to seek out the extinct Franklinia alatamaha plant. With the danger coming closer to her home, River finds comfort in her kitchen, creating custom ice cream cakes for her husband’s Island Creamery while unraveling the mystery of who murdered the nature-devoted vet.

This third in the series is a charming delight that will have readers anticipating the moments River retreats into her kitchen to prepare meals for family and friends along with those for her catering business. Shrimp dishes are as mouth-watering as the cookies customized for Pete’s ice cream store, and these moments of creativity are interwoven into her investigation of the murder. Now that she’s made her brother and his wife part of her business, the always-responsible, well-organized River has time for some off-the-books investigation. She does much of her best thinking as she cooks, and she will need all of her wits as she deals with Jasmine’s demanding cousin, irascible Chicken Lady, and hostile sheriff. The setting of Shell Island proves to be a vicarious escape for readers as well, with its unique size and expansive coastal ecology making it ideal for complicated plots and all-knowing nosy neighbors. Unique characters, small-town dynamics, animal appreciation, and of course, delicious cooking all come together in this satisfying, cozy mystery read.

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).

When a Rare Plant is a MacGuffin
By Maggie Toussaint

One story thread in Shrimply Dead, my latest culinary cozy mystery, is the quest for an extremely rare plant. In the coastal area where I grew up (and where this story is set), hardy souls continue to search for the Franklinia alatamaha, a plant native only to coastal Georgia.

The fact that the Franklin tree hasn’t been seen here in over 200 years is in no way a deterrent. Because cultivated plants of F. alatamaha have lived a century or more, searchers believe there could be a surviving plant hidden somewhere along the conserved Altamaha River banks, its native habitat.

The ongoing search for the Franklinia is fueled by wanting to be The Lucky Person who rediscovers this plant in the wild. That honor of finding this botanical “MacGuffin” would be the equivalent of winning the lottery.

To understand the present day romanticism of this lost plant and my decision to include the search of this plant in my novel, a brief history is necessary. In 1765, botanist John Bartram and his son William discovered a several acre area of beautiful shrubs/trees growing along the banks of Georgia’s mighty Altamaha (pronounced All’-tah-ma-ha) River near Darien. They named the tree after family friend Benjamin Franklin and the river, though they chose a variant spelling of the river’s name.

William Bartram returned to the area where the plant thrived in the spring of 1773, harvested seeds from the plant, and subsequently cultivated them in Philadelphia, which turned out to be fortunate as the plant is considered extinct in the wild since there have been no confirmed sightings of it since the early 1800s. All existing plants arise from the seeds William Bartram collected. For more history, see georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/geography-environment/franklin-tree-franklinia-alatamaha.

Now let’s transition into the fictional world of my new mystery, Shrimply Dead. Veterinarian and naturalist Jasmine Garr is very keen on native plants. When she moves into her grandmother’s place, she replaces all the landscaping with native plants. In her spare time, she gives tours of her acreage to school children on the importance of native plants and how they sustain the natural ecosystem. Her teachings on native plants lead to the service award that she wins in the opening pages of Shrimply Dead.

In addition, her love of native plants fuels her quest for the Franklinia alatamaha. She’s certain her advanced education level and scientific methodology give her a leg up on the competition in finding this elusive plant. She notes the sectors searched on a map, and she develops a following on her podcasts about her treks upriver.

Jasmine’s death raises many questions. Two of these are related to this plant: did she find trouble or the Franklinia alatamaha, and did her search prompt her death?

It was a delight to showcase this lost plant in my fictional world of caterer River Holloway in the Seafood Caper Mysteries. I got so into the story that a few times during the writing of Shrimply Dead I was tempted to click over to YouTube to hear Jasmine’s (fictional) podcasts of the search. I hope you enjoy the book as much as I do!

About Franklinia alatamaha: F. alatamaha grows to a conical shape, as much as 30’ high and 20’ across. Its white flower with a yellow center blooms in the fall, with a lovely scent similar to orange blossoms and wild honeysuckle. Also in the fall, the dark green leaves turn a brilliant orange-red. While the plant prefers full sun in a moist, sandy, high-acid soil, it is intolerant of drought. If you’re interested in learning more about the cultivated plant, check out this podcast: youtube.com/watch?v=h1H_6JG1bqg

To enter to win an ebook copy of Shrimply Dead, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “shrimply,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April 24, 2021. U.S. residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

One of Maggie’s short stories was featured in a past Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast. You can find it here, or listen with the player below.

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.

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

Former scientist and southern author Maggie Toussaint writes cozy and paranormal mysteries, romantic suspense, and dystopian fiction, with more than twenty fiction novels published. A multi-year finalist for Georgia Author of the Year, she’s won Silver Falchions, two different Readers’ Choice awards, and the EPIC Award. She’s past president of Mystery Writers of America-Southeast chapter and an officer of LowCountry Sisters In Crime. She lives in coastal Georgia, where secrets, heritage, and ancient oaks cast long shadows. Visit her at maggietoussaint.com.

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.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Glen Davis April 17, 2021 at 11:34am

Sounds interesting! Count me in!

Reply

2 Maggie Toussaint
Twitter: @MaggieToussaint
April 18, 2021 at 12:46pm

Thanks for this wonderful review. I hope folks enjoy the part about the rare plant search as much as I do. It is my pleasure to have this opportunity to connect with KRL followers. Thanks again for the request!

Reply

3 Dianne Casey April 18, 2021 at 1:07pm

A new series to me. Would really like to read.

Reply

4 SandyG April 19, 2021 at 3:44am

Sounds good

Reply

5 Sherry Brown April 23, 2021 at 3:33pm

Thank you for the chance to win your wonderful giveaway!!!

Reply

6 Merri Matalon
Twitter: @merrimatalon
April 25, 2021 at 4:13pm

Nice premise

Reply

7 Lorie
Twitter: @mysteryrat
April 26, 2021 at 9:30am

You are the winner, I sent you an email. Thanks

Reply

8 Lorie
Twitter: @mysteryrat
April 26, 2021 at 9:27am

We have a winner!

Reply

Leave a Comment

Twitter ID
(ID only; No links or "@" symbols)

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post:

  • Arts & Entertainment

  • Books & Tales

  • Community

  • Education

  • Food Fun

  • Helping Hands

  • Hometown History

  • Pets

  • Teens

  • Terrific Tales