by Kathleen Costa
Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win either a print or kindle copy of Apple Strudel Alibi, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.
Apple Strudel Alibi: Oxford Tearoom Mystery By H.Y. Hanna
Reviewed by Kathleen Costa
Tea and Scones!
Gemma Rose returned to England to live out her dream by opening the Little Stables Tearoom with BFF Cassie Jenkins (A Scone to Die For – January 2016), boasting the best traditional English tearoom experience in Oxfordshire. Unfortunately over the last year, she’s also served up some interesting murder investigations stemming from revenge to greed, secrets kept to secrets revealed, over-the-top crazy to just plain old karma. Gemma has found, not without some personal peril, the answers that have made her invaluable to the local inspector. A rekindled romance with said inspector, awkward dynamic with an overbearing mother, demanding “Merrow!” of her tabby cat, and the busy-body antics of a quartet of octogenarian round out a delightful cozy series…and my absolutely all-time favorite! Did I mention an easy-to-follow recipe is always an added treat?
Murder Is Better with an English Accent!
Gemma Rose has expanded into catering with her first function the funeral reception of Rex Clifford. His wife, dubbed a ‘floozy’ by his daughter, has inherited the entire estate making this somber event…murderously tense. Everyone is delighted with Gemma’s food, but all goes sour when the widow coughs, sputters, and collapses…another murder? Gemma is back at the center of an investigation, but her CID boyfriend takes a back seat to an incompetent Detective ‘Pratt.’ Then there’s a long lost heir from China, one of the “Old Biddies” is a person of interest, a little hedgehog causes trouble, and everyone enjoys a few boxes of enchanting chocolates from Tillyhenge—a delightful reference to Hanna’s new series Bewitched by Chocolate. All this and murder, too?
Four Puddings and a Funeral, the sixth book in the Oxford Tearoom series, has been released in audio format. H.Y. Hanna’s story is clever and entertaining on its own with rich well-developed characters, but greatly enhanced by the artistic voice talent of Pearl Hewitt. Pearl masterfully mimics a variety of English dialects that illustrate the tone, personality, and emotions of the various characters adding to my enjoyment. I love Adele Clifford, gold digger extraordinaire, with a low-brow accent delightfully dropping all of her “Hs.” Then, there is Gemma’s lilting English, the Old Biddies’ proper speech like English grandmothers, and of course…Muesli’s “Merrow!” to enjoy. For me, when I am reading the books myself, I hear Pearl Hewitt’s voice in my head. I love it!
Apple Strudel Alibi earns 5/5 Strudel-ishious Mystery!
Vienna! The thought evokes images of romantic waltzes, museums, palaces, mouthwatering desserts, and…murder? Gemma Rose is surprised by the “Old Biddies secretly entering the tearoom’s scones in the Euro Tearoom Baking Contest. Surprise, the Little Stables Tearoom won! The award’s ceremony will be in Vienna, but “I’ll be in Malta with Devlin!” plans makes Vienna a no-go for Gemma. However, romance once again is shelved when DCI Devlin O’Connor’s work ethic cancels their “together” plans sending Gemma, Muesli, and the Four Biddies off to Vienna. There they are confronted with a hotel filled with delightful, some suspicious guests, a pompous critic known for his scathing reviews, curators, art dealers, friends, foes, and hotel owners hoping to build a good reputation for their hotel. These all collide into murder, and Gemma with her octogenarian entourage take on the case.
H.Y. Hanna doesn’t disappoint with her signature clever mystery, well-written descriptions, engaging dialogue, and rich, well-developed characters from all walks of life. Have you read her vacation blog about Vienna? Actually having been there, she adds a legitimate realism to the sights, sounds, and tastes. I enjoyed the change of setting from the comfortable British countryside to a hectic European city, and much like what one would find in a book one, she spends extra time immersing the reader into the environment, culture, and history before diving into the murder mystery. It took longer than I normally like, but I didn’t mind the delay because I enjoy Gemma and the “Biddies,” and was very entertained following them around the city. But, Hsin-yi doesn’t rely on the narrative alone nor turn it into a travel log, she offers entertaining banter between the “Biddies” and Gemma. Ok, Mable is such a hoot! Although this is the eighth book in the series, there aren’t any spoilers and enough background and characters connections are revisited to make this an entertaining standalone. But…do not miss the rest of the series! You’ll love it!
My Two Favorite Words…Recipe Included!
Fans, like me, are always excited to learn which recipe Hsin-yi decides to include as a special treat…always connected to the story from scones to sticky toffee pudding to custard tarts, so Traditional Apple Strudel? Yes! She credits Ursula Schersch quoting, “Apple Strudel (Apflestrudel), a typical and beloved Austrian dessert.” Ursula continues saying it is “my granny’s recipe—and I’ve never had any better tasting.” How perfect is that!
Be a Big H.Y. Hanna Fan…Like, Visit, and Follow!
Like, Visit, and Follow…Oh,my!
Facebook – H.Y. Hanna Books
Website – H.Y. Hanna
Twitter At @_HYHanna
H.Y. Hanna Waltzing Across Austria
Excerpts from her Book Pilgrimage to Vienna, Part 1/Part 2 4/7/18 Blog
As many of my fans know, Mary Stewart is one of my all-time favourite authors, and ever since I was a teenager, I’d long dreamt of visiting the setting of her novel, Airs Above the Ground, and following in the heroine’s footsteps. I’d also been wanting to write a novel set in Vienna for a long time, so this was the perfect opportunity for a research trip! And yes, I was so inspired when I returned that I decided to set the next Oxford Tearoom Mystery in Vienna. So if you’ve read Apple Strudel Alibi, you might spot the sources of inspiration for various scenes in the story!
The funny thing is, when we first got married and my husband heard about my dream, he’d promised that we’d make a trip to Vienna for our 20th anniversary. It was always something that we looked forward to in the distant future… and then suddenly, here we were! Where did 20 years go?
Although it isn’t featured in Mary Stewart’s book. we decided to start our trip on the other side of Austria in Salzburg and drive across the country to Vienna. Besides, I grew up watching The Sound of Music, so I couldn’t miss the chance to visit the home of Maria and the Von Trapp children! Salzburg is such a beautiful, romantic city – like something out of a fairy tale. Salzburg is divided by a river, and the skyline is dominated by the Hohensalzburg Fortress, a brooding medieval castle that sits atop a hill overlooking the city. Can you see it in the picture below?
We were hungry and exhausted after our journey from the other side of the world, so we dumped our things and headed out immediately for our first meal in Austria! The hotel recommended a gorgeous little restaurant tucked in a side street, which specialised in Austrian cuisine, and we were welcomed by warm and friendly waitresses dressed in beautiful Dirndls, the traditional outfit of Austrian women. I wasn’t very familiar with Austrian cuisine, so it was fun exploring the menu, although, of course, I had to order Austria’s national dish: Wiener Schnitzel, a thin cutlet of pork, covered in golden breadcrumbs and pan-fried until crispy, usually served with parsley potatoes, salad, and a wedge of lemon. It was delicious!
Before we knew it, we were driving into the outskirts of Vienna and navigating the streets of Austria’s capital. It was strange, after driving through the mountains and open countryside for so long, to suddenly be back in an urban environment. Well, Vienna is probably as romantically beautiful as an “urban environment” can ever get! Every street corner seemed to reveal yet another stunning historic building – and since we arrived late at night, everything was beautifully lit up.
It was amazing for me to see how dog-friendly Vienna was. I saw dogs accompanying their owners into restaurants and cafes, shops, department stores…even the bank! Nobody batted an eyelid, and the dogs were all so well-behaved, probably because they get taken everywhere all the time.
There were so many other wonderful sights, like the spectacular Schönbrunn Palace, and so many more photos. I took over 6,000 photos during our trip in Austria—not kidding! Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed coming along on my “book pilgrimage” in Austria and sharing in my 20th wedding anniversary trip! For those of you who have read Apple Strudel Alibi, I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the places that inspired the story. And if you haven’t been yet, perhaps one day you might like to make your own trip to the land of Lipizzaner stallions, fairy-tale castles, and apple strudel!
To enjoy the complete adventure with some marvelous photos follow these links to A Book Pilgrimage to Vienna Part 1 and A Book Pilgrimage to Vienna Part 2. These are such delightfully fun reads you’ll want to back your bags!
To enter to win either a print or kindle copy of Apple Strudel Alibi, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “alibi,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 26, 2018. U.S. residents only for the print copy. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address. PLEASE STATE IN ENTRY WHETHER YOU WANT PRINT OR KINDLE & which book you want.
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