Expiration Date By Devon Delaney: Review/Giveaway/Guest Post

May 5, 2018 | 2018 Articles, Food Fun, Mysteryrat's Maze, Sandra Murphy

by Sandra Murphy
& Devon Delaney

This week we have a review of the first mystery in a new food mystery series by Devon Delaney, and a fun guest post by Devon about food competitions. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Expiration Date, and a link to purchase it from Amazon, and an indie bookstore where a portion of the sale goes to help support KRL.

Expiration Date: A Cook-Off Mystery By Devon Delaney
Review by Sandra Murphy

Sherry Frazzelle is working part-time for her dad, entering cooking contests, and learning to live alone after splitting from her lawyer husband. The latest contest is for home cooks, sponsored by OrgaNicks. Sherry’s sister Marla is a finalist, too. Jamie, an actuary by day, the most nervous of the finalists, Kenny, the big mouth who comments on everything and everyone, Diana, the contestant who’s won more contests than the rest have entered.

The kitchens get pretty chaotic as reporters interview the cooks as they cook, plate, and present their best dishes. Sherry’s is a pork tenderloin, and it looks perfect although she lacked time to do a final taste test. Hers is the last to be tasted by the judges. Chef Birns takes a bite, and it’s a fatal one, putting Sherry on the hot seat with the police. expiration date book cover

With all the activity in the kitchens, it’s hard to say who could have tampered with the dish or ingredients. They’re supposed to be closely guarded, but the cooks do leave their prep areas to go to the ovens and fridge. Sherry even had an authorized bathroom break.

Contestants are told not to leave town so another cook, Amber, stays with Sherry and Marla as they brainstorm ways to clear Sherry’s name. The chef judges all knew each other through business dealings, Diana wanted to win no matter what, the MC, reporter, and cameraman were at each cooking station multiple times.

Sherry asks a few questions here and there, and although she’s not finding out much information, she gets threats to back off. Who will go home with a $10,000 prize and who will go to jail?

This is the first in a new series. Sherry is a bit OCD, Marla, much more relaxed. Amber is a nice contrast and proves to be a good friend. Of course, Sherry’s dog Chutney is a cutie and deserves more scenes! Her dad, Erno, owns a rug store and from a peek into the excerpt of Final Roasting Place, the next in the series, readers will get to know him better. From a hint at the end of the book, Sherry’s life is going to take yet another turn—will it be for the better? Only time will tell.

An exciting extra to the book is the recipes included that come from Sherry’s kitchen…delicious!

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.

Competitive Cooking
By Devon Delaney

What exactly is competitive cooking and why in the world do I enjoy the activity so much?

Long before Food Network began airing non-stop food competition programming, I was competing in live cook-offs, which pits cooks against each other for cash and valuable prizes. My hobby began for me one iced-over stretch of winter, during which time I was stranded at home for days on end with my three young children, aged four, two, and a couple of months. On one of my few trips out, knowing it may be a while before I could navigate the dangerous roads again with my precious child cargo, I grabbed a few magazines to read at the checkout line in the grocery store. Low and behold, on the back page of one, was an advertisement for a recipe contest with the theme, “What delicious meal can you make with a piece of bread?” sponsored by the Wheat Council Of America. Why not give it a try, I thought. I had to make dinner that evening anyway, and the kids loved their bread.

Devon Delaney author

Devon Delaney

Long story short, after I concocted a recipe showcasing bread, which I titled Orange Dusted French Toast Fingers with Maple Dipping Sauce, I typed the ingredients and preparation instructions up and mailed it to the address listed in the advertisement. About six months later, I was rewarded with a two thousand dollar check. I had beaten hundreds of other entries for the grand prize in my first contest. Needless to say, I was hooked.

As the years passed, I honed the skill of recipe creation. I choose the cooking contests to enter by which sponsor or theme best match my current desire to explore twists on family favorites. Main and side dishes are my specialties. I am not a great baker. For me, getting a cake to rise correctly or piecrust not to be gummy, requires precise measurement skills of an architect, scientific knowledge of a chemist, and a leaning towards stringent inflexibility, all being polar opposites of my style in the kitchen. I only measure ingredients if I’m ready to enter a contest. Even then I have to go through the motions of recreating the flavor combinations I had thrown together to achieve the perfect depth of flavor during a recipe trial. My cooking style can best be summed up with the tagline: creative and innovative, with a nod to the classics.

Growing up I had always had a hardcore competitive side when it came to athletic games. Any game that kept score and resulted in a winner and a loser peaked my interest. It makes sense, looking back. Being the youngest of five children, every day was a competition of sorts for attention, remaining cookies, and time in the bathroom. Years later, being no stranger to the urge to better my opponents, I jumped at the chance to transform that lowly slice of bread into a recipe superstar.

Unlike the polished shows on television, live cook-offs don’t allow for editing when mishaps and mistakes occur. Adjustments must be made on the fly when an ingredient isn’t up to par, or the oven is calibrated incorrectly and runs too hot or too cold. Along with the recipe’s listed ingredients, adrenaline, nerves, and emotions factor in the success or failure of the final outcome. Focus, concentration, and time management loom large, hovering over the competitors as they make their way around a confined kitchen space they may have only have a handful of minutes to familiarize themselves with. Writing these words makes my heart pound as I recall the atmosphere of tension.

Participating in cooking competitions isn’t for everyone. But, I have yet to meet someone who wasn’t fascinated to learn what it took to represent my home state in the National Chicken Cooking Contest or have my recipe judged grand prize winner at the National Mushroom Festival. Yes, among other prizes, I have won three trips to Disney from Pillsbury, a cruise to Bermuda from Emeril Lagasse, and a grill from Guy Fieri. In the end, it’s not all about the dollars and merchandise awarded. Although, admittedly that was the initial draw for me! The people I’ve met through my participation in cooking contests have enriched my life beyond my wildest dreams. And, they also planted the seed of murderous intrigue in the corner of my brain that houses my love of writing. devon cooking

Stress, pressure, success, failure – all part of every cooking competition I’ve been in. After twenty years of competing, I took the experiences I had squirreled away in my memory bank, tweaked them a bit, much as I do with my recipes before I finalize them, and combined them with my love of writing. One day it dawned on me I was an expert in a field that provided the perfect backdrop for deception, intrigue, jealousy, and ultimately murder. Granted, in all my years of competing, I’ve never come across a murder associated with a cook-off, but all the ingredients are there if the cook stirs them up correctly. Maybe that’s why I enjoy competing so much.

To enter to win a copy of Expiration Date, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “expiration,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 12, 2018. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.

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.

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:

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I am a wife, mother of three, accomplished cooking contester and a recent empty nester. I taught computer education and Lego Robotics for over ten years prior to pursuing writing. Along the way I have been handsomely rewarded for my recipe innovation over the last twenty-plus years. Among the many prizes I have won are a full kitchen of major appliances, six-figure top cash prizes and four trips to Disney World. I have also won the grand prize in a national writing contest for my foodie poem “Ode to Pork Passion.” Combining my beloved cooking contesting with my enthusiasm for writing was inevitable. My author website can be found at: www.devonpdelaney.com.

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. The author definitely knows what she is writing about!

  2. new to me author. Thanks.

    kckendler at gmail dot com

  3. This sounds like an awesome start to a great new mystery series. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Sounds like the start to a great series!
    Thank you for the giveaway!

  5. I would love to win a copy of the this new series.

  6. New to me author! The book sounds super, I love recipes! nani_geplsc(at)yahoo(dot)com

  7. My book club and I are always looking for a new series to read. This one sounds like a winner and we enjoy cooking mysteries.

  8. Competitive cooking….sounds very interesting and “cut throat”….thank you for the chance to read this author


  9. Thanks for a chance to win this interesting read!

  10. What a bunch of accomplishments! Great article & Review.
    Kelly Braun

  11. This sounds interesting, even though I am so cooking challenged I won’t try anything around hubby or his family. The mystery and the thought that others can cook are enticing in this novel.

  12. Thanks for the great article! I really enjoyed it!

    Thanks for the chance at the giveaway!

    faithdcreech at gmail dot com

  13. What a great idea for a series! I appreciate the review and the chance to win. Thank you!

  14. Sounds like a great start to a new series. Would like to read “Expiration Date”.

  15. We have a winner!


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