by Cynthia Chow
& Kirsten Weiss
This week we have a review of a fun Pie Town mystery by Kirsten Weiss, and in honor of Easter we have a recipe for an Italian Easter Pie from Kirsten. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Pie Hard, and a link to purchase it from Amazon, and an indie bookstore where a portion of the sale goes to help support KRL.
Pie Hard: A Pie Town Mystery by Kirsten Weiss
Review by Cynthia Chow
Valentine Harris had come to expect the unexpected from her rather exuberant landlady and expert piecrust maker Charlene McCree. The delivery of a yurt at 4 a.m. was a little much though, especially since it would soon be accompanied by fifteen women intent on camping out for a weeklong goddess circle. The septuagenarian had Val and her Pie Town bakery’s best interests in mind, as Charlene also arranged under only slightly false pretenses to have the reality show Pie Hard film on site.
Celebrity chef Ilsa Fueder and bakery consultant Nigel Prashad host their program that first shreds apart bakeries (it makes for good television), and then provide expert advice on how to make the businesses a success. Having only been open for a year, Val is more than a little protective of her little restaurant/pie bakery, so she’s as fearful as she is hopeful of the results. Ilsa’s repeated declarations of “Don’t like” certainly do not bode well, but it’s the producer’s fall from the hotel room that demolishes all of Val’s optimistic hopes.
Charlene insists that the sheriff will label the death an accident in order to not rock the boat or cause him to put in extra sweat, and she insists that their Baker Street Bakers armchair detectives do less armchairing and take charge of the investigation. Val and Detective Gordon Carmichael had nearly succeeded in completing an actual date before he was sent off for Homeland Security Training, and now that he’s back he would truly prefer that she not get herself killed while interfering in police business. The arrival of a mysterious elbow-patched professorial-looking man, as well as a ninja-esque stalker, will prevent Val from staying on the sidelines, especially when it turns out that their presence will have a monumental impact on her life.
Fans of reality cooking shows will revel in this delightful mystery, which is full of colorful characters who are fully-realized, complex personalities. Rather than being overbearing or too over-the-top, Charlene is a hilarious senior who continually competes with her high school nemesis while protectively guarding the boundaries of her kitchen. Charlene makes no pretense of wanting her moment to shine in front of the camera, but she also has genuine goodwill and the best of intentions for Val and Pie Town. If it also results in besting Marla Van Helsing and rubbing her nose in their success, well, all the better.
Val has herself quickly come to appreciate the Northern California town of San Nicholas, along with her tiny house and promising employees. The humor flows steadily through the interactions with her regulars and her staff, and the mystery proves to be as complex as a lattice pie crust. Descriptions and pie recipes will tantalize foodies and cozy mystery fans, but it is the likable Val and her friends who will keep readers coming back for more. Be sure to test your own pie-making skills using the easy-to-follow recipes included in the book: Peach-Raspberry Pie, Lemon-Blueberry Cream Pie, and Almond Toffee Pie.
Ricotta Easter Pie
Premade, refrigerated pie crust
2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese, well-drained (about 15 oz)
5 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon white-liquor rum
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the ricotta cheese on low speed with the paddle attachment until smooth (this takes around 30 seconds), scraping down the sides of the bowl.
Add the sugar one tablespoon at a time and beat for another 30 seconds-ish.
Add the lemon zest, cinnamon, liquor and 1 egg.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating each egg until incorporated and before adding the next. Scrape the sides of the bowl as you go along.
Unfold piecrust dough into 9” pie pan. Carefully pour ricotta mixture into pie crust. Place foil or a piecrust shield around the crust to prevent burning.
Bake for 40 minutes or until the center filling is no longer liquid.
Serve at room temperature. You can cover and refrigerate the pie for 2-3 days.
To enter to win a copy of Pie Hard, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “pie,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April 27, 2019. U.S. residents only. If entering via comment please include your email address. If entering via email be sure to 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 iTunes and Google Play. A new episode goes up next 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.