by Sandra Murphy
& Elizabeth Logan
This week we have a review of the first in a brand new series by Elizabeth Logan aka Camille Minichino. We also have an interesting guest post from Camille about reading a series. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win an ARC copy of the book, and links to purchase it.
Mousse and Murder: Alaskan Diner Mystery by Elizabeth Logan
Review by Sandra Murphy
In Elkview, Alaska, Charlotte “Charlie” Cooke has taken over the Bear Claw Diner, formerly run by her mom. Mom and Dad are on a European cruise while Charlie keeps the 24-hour diner going, serving delicious food. She hasn’t made many suggestions, especially to the food. Chef Oliver is opposed to the smallest change, unless it’s his idea. Adding chocolate to bear claws? A travesty!
Oliver has a chef’s temper and stomps out of the diner after hearing her idea. Usually he punishes her by being gone during a rush and coming back within a few hours. This time, there’s no sign of him.
When touring Alaska, any sightseeing is dependent on the weather. When roads are impassible, there’s no arguing with Mother Nature, people stay put. Charlie’s friend Annie runs the local inn and is glad of the extra room rentals. She brings the group to the Bear Claw for meals and a chance to meet real hikers and climbers, not to mention eat good food.
State troopers and law enforcement are few and far between (literally) in Alaska. When another case takes precedent over Oliver’s, Charlie and her journalist friend Chris are deputized. Who knew that was a thing? (It’s not).
Adding to the entertainment is Eggs Benedict aka Benny. He’s the cat Charlie inherited from her mom. She has an app on her phone and is able to check on him or play games remotely. He’s the one she talks to after a long day at the diner, although Chris is beginning to take over part of that burden.
This is the first book in a refreshing new series. The Alaskan setting quickly becomes as much of a character as Benny, Annie, and the rest of the regulars. The mystery is a good one with nice twists. I picked a suspect midway through the book but had no inkling of the motive.
Look for recipes for Cherry Cheesecake Mousse and Moose Meatloaf (substitute other meats for moose, as needed) but sadly, not for bear claws. Book two, Fishing for Trouble, will be released November 24 and is available for pre-order now. After reading book one, you’ll want to make sure to get book two.
Reading a Series
By Camille Minichino/Elizabeth Logan
Back in the days of brick and mortar book events, I filled my roll-on suitcase with an assortment of my books, handmade signs with covers and prices, and a collection of swag—logo pens, bookmarks, candy, a few chapbooks for giveaways. At the last such event, I’d had four series published, for a total of twenty-five books. If I packed only a few copies of each, I’d have been lugging 100 or more books, if I even had that many in stock at home.
My usual last-minute practice was to root around in the computer-paper boxes in my hallway and pull out enough to fill the carry-on. I’d up at the event with the first book in one series, only the third in another, the sixth in another. Invariably, a potential customer would pick up a book and ask, “Is this the first in the series?” Most of the time I’d have to admit it wasn’t. I understand that there are readers who must read a series in order. If number one is out of print, for example, well, too bad, ditch that series. If the time allowed, I’d try to give that reader my philosophy of reading a series.
It goes like this…
Recently I had lunch with a friend I met about a couple of years ago. She’s well into middle age, with two grown children. One of the “kids” is a struggling actress, the other is a physician who—never mind.
Here’s my point…
I learned this not by being present at my friend’s birth, and not even at the birth of her children, but by the backstory she reveals little by little, or a lot by a lot, when we’re together. She and I tell each other stories, some one-liners, sometimes longer tales, and certainly not in chronological order. We bond over things we have in common now and enjoy hearing about the past in pieces.
I don’t feel deprived that we didn’t meet right out of the womb. It’s not important that I wasn’t around when she got engaged or married or started wearing contacts. I can catch up. I feel the same way about a series protagonist. I don’t have to start with A is for —, in other words.
I can feel a shiver from some readers. What? S-s-s-start reading a series in the middle? But it’s no different from meeting a friend in the middle of her life. You can always go back and find out what she’s been doing before she met you. You can “track her growth” through stories, even when they’re told out of order.
In fact, there are many reasons to go for the last book of a series first:
1. Any author worth reading gets better with each book. It stands to reason that the latest book will be the best. What author doesn’t wish she could go back and edit that first one? It’s better for a reader to get hooked on the protagonist through the best book, and then go back to earlier ones. She’s more likely to forgive a few flaws in the early books if she’s already committed to the character.
2. It’s better for the author! The publishing industry is all about “What have you done for me lately?” Sales of that new/latest book in the series are what count.
3. Another benefit for the reader—she’s reading what everyone is talking about. Fellow writers, other readers, reviewers will be discussing the newest book in the series, not the first book.
4. Sometimes early books go out of print. Why deprive ourselves of a good book just because the series may not be “complete” on our shelves?
A book is a book is a book.
To enter to win an ARC copy of Mousse and Murder, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “mousse,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 23, 2020. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like. BE AWARE THAT IT WILL TAKE LONGER THAN USUAL FOR WINNERS TO GET THEIR BOOKS DUE TO THE CURRENT CRISIS.
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 Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode went up this week!
You can use this link to purchase this book from indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy, and KRL gets a portion of the sale:
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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.