by Cynthia Chow
This week we have a review of a new food mystery from Kylie Logan, along with a fun interview with Kylie. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the Irish Stewed, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.
Irish Stewed: An Ethnic Eats Mystery By Kylie Logan
Review by Cynthia Chow
Until it all went south, Laurel Inwood spent six years living it up as the personal chef for Hollywood movie actress Meghan Cohan. Accustomed to exotic locations, luxurious accommodations, and an unlimited budget for gourmet ingredients, Laurel had the best of everything so long as she catered to the whims of the celebrity star. False accusations of leaking information now have Laurel blacklisted and out of a job, which is how she finds herself in Hubbard, Ohio. Laurel agreed to take over running her foster aunt’s restaurant while she undergoes knee surgery, but it turns out that Sophie is something of an actress herself. Terminal at the Tracks is far from being the high-class establishment Sophie had for years declared it to be, and Laurel just can’t see herself serving its greasy, low-quality diner food.
The discovery of a body in the dining room certainly does nothing to change Laurel’s mind, especially considering that it is that of Jack Lancer, the ‘Lance of Justice.’ A big investigative journalist in the very small town, Jack had been frequenting the diner on a regular basis on the hunt for a juicy exposé somewhere close to the Terminal. Very nearby is Declan Fury, whose family runs “the Irish Store” that sells an eclectic mix of shamrock curios and handcrafted Waterford crystal.
What does swiftly rally Laurel is her loyalty to Sophie’s late sister, who fostered Laurel until she aged out of the system. Declan’s charming Irish influence further inspires Laurel to focus on serving a variety of ethnic foods to save the Terminal, as culturally specific meals consumed in childhood serve as comfort food for adults. Laurel may have just found a way to save the Terminal, as long as she can escape the numerous break-ins, assaults, and suspicion that her aunt may be a murderer.
This fun mix of mystery and food hides layers of depth within its contrasting characters. While Laurel bounced from foster home to foster home with no sense of family, Declan is nearly drowning among his multitudes of siblings, nieces, and nephews. Descendants of Irish Travelers, local law enforcement officers are more than willing to suspect they’re having a part in the crimes. Other suspects do abound, as Jack had a collection of three ex-wives who bonded together over their complete hatred for their ex. Declan’s overconfidence and overwhelming attentions may have Laurel as exasperated as charmed, but readers should be reassured that he has hidden depths and motivations. This celebration of culturally diverse cuisine is matched by delightful characters, fast banter, and a thoroughly compelling mystery.
Interview with Kylie Logan:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Kylie: Oh my, it didn’t use to sound like a long time ago, but these days…(sigh). I’ve always been interested in writing fiction and I majored in English in college, but I never actually tried my hand at fiction writing until somewhere around 1986. Do I need to say that I was (cough, cough) quite young at the time?
KRL: When did your first novel come out? What was it called and a little about it?
Kylie: My first published book was actually a historical romance, Twilight Secrets, written under the name of Constance Laux. When I first started writing the story, I didn’t even realize it fit into any particular genre, but as I researched markets, I realized the book was what the industry called historical romance. It was published in 1992. A little about it… hmmm…a romance between a Victorian music hall singer and a captain in the British Army. I hate to admit it, but that’s about as much as I remember!
KRL: Besides mysteries and one historical romance, have you written in any other genres?
Kylie: In addition to historical romance, I’ve written contemporary romance, YA horror (great fun!), a children s book and now, of course, mysteries. Truth be told, mysteries are my favorite because I love the chance to twist and turn a plot and fool readers along the way.
KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series? Tell me a little about the setting and main character for your most recent book.
Kylie: My newest series is the Ethnic Eats mysteries and the idea for it started with me thinking about how important traditional and comfort foods are in all our lives. Add into that the fact that I live outside of Cleveland ? a great area for food, and a wonderful melting pot of different ethnicities ? and a series based on ethnic foods seemed a natural. The main character in the series is Laurel Inwood, a chef who’s been dumped by the high-powered Hollywood star she’s worked for. Laurel heads to Ohio to help out her Aunt Sophie at the restaurant Sophie always talked about as elegant. You know, the kind with linen tablecloths and candles winking on every table. Only when Laurel arrives in Hubbard, Ohio, she finds out that things aren’t exactly as she’s been told. Sophie’s Terminal at the Tracks is a greasy spoon diner in an old railway station and Laurel has to figure out how to keep the business afloat.
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?
Kylie: My first job is to make sure readers are entertained. There’s a lot out in the world to distract readers these days and I’ve got to compete with things like the Internet, movies, video games, etc. I’ve got to do my part to keep people interested and coming back for more, otherwise, no matter what I want them to take away from my work, they’ll never stick with it long enough. That being said, I hope they come away from my books with memories of clever plots, interesting characters and settings that are a little out of the ordinary.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?
Kylie: Something I learned a long time ago, is that you’ll never FIND time to write. You have to MAKE time to write. Writing is my full-time job, and I work at it five (and sometimes six) days a week, eight hours a day.
KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?
Kylie: Before I begin writing any book, I spend a lot of time working on a chapter-by-chapter outline. I may not know, for instance, how Laurel is going to find the clue in chapter four, but I know what that clue is and that she needs to find it. An outline helps me keep the story in line in my head and allows me to write faster than I used to before I outlined.
KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?
Kylie: Honestly, I’ve never thought about it. This is my job and like everybody else out there, I work it every day, all day. Yeah, there are times I don’t feel like it, but that doesn’t change a thing. Can you imagine a surgeon looking down on a patient on the table and saying, “I don’t feel like taking out a gall bladder today?” The same applies to writing. There is always work to do, and being self-employed, there’s no one to do it but me!
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Kylie: Yes, and the state of the publishing industry being what it is, I think it’s getting harder not only to get published, but to stay published. That being said, there are still plenty of books hitting the shelves. There is always room for a good book! And to date, I’ve published nearly 60 novels.
KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?
Kylie: I can’t say I’ve got a great story about either being rejected or accepted. I can say I’ve had my share of both. It comes with the territory, and writers looking to get published have to realize that it’s all part of the business.
KRL: Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?
Kylie: Most interesting? I can’t say. I can say that when I have a new book come out, I always do a signing at an art gallery in Cleveland called Something Different. The owners are wonderful and they firmly believe that writers are artists, so they’re always kind enough to invite me. I’ve met so many wonderful readers who come back to visit each time. I treasure each of these signings.
KRL: Future writing goals?
Kylie: To keep on keeping on. To tell stories that interest me and create characters who resonate with readers.
KRL: Writing heroes?
Kylie: Too many to name them all! The late, wonderful, talented Elizabeth Peters and the masters, of course, like Christie and Doyle.
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Kylie: Ah, research. There’s always research to do and fortunately, I enjoy it. Of course, when I’m writing a contemporary novel, there is less than when I’m writing something historical. Right now, I’m working on a mystery set in New York in 1842. Talk about research! Thank goodness for the Internet! It may not provide 100% of what I need, but at least it helps me find a starting point.
KRL: What do you read?
Kylie: When I’m writing, usually nonfiction for research purposes. When I’m not writing, I really love the Alan Bradley Flavia de Luce mysteries. I also have a great time keeping up with the work of writing buddies like Emilie Richards (women’s fiction), Maureen Child (romance), Shelley Costa (mystery). The list goes on and on.
KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Kylie: So often, I meet people who want to be writers but who find out that writing is hard work and decide they’re not writers. Wrong! You wouldn’t sit down at the piano for the first time and expect to play Chopin. You wouldn’t walk out on a basketball court for the first time and play like Lebron. Writing is the same. It takes time and practice and persistence.
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
Kylie: Yes, I write cozy mysteries as Kylie Logan, but I’m also Casey Daniels. Casey writes the Pepper Martin mysteries about a woman who works at a historic cemetery and solves mysteries for the ghosts there. The next Casey book comes out this fall and is called Graveyard Shift. My historical mysteries will also be published under that name.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Kylie: I love cemeteries! Really, I love exploring old cemeteries. Anyone who reads my Casey books might not be surprised by that!
KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?
Kylie: Two websites:
Yes, I’m on Facebook under both names. Casey currently has an author page and would greatly appreciate anyone liking it! Still working on Kylie’s page. As for Twitter…I check in once in a while, but not often.
To enter to win a copy of Irish Stewed, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “stewed,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 4, 2016. 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.
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