Not in Kansas Anymore

Jun 24, 2020 | 2020 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Edith Maxwell

Check out the first chapter of one of Edith’s books under the name of Maddie Day featured in a recent podcast at the end of this post. Details at the end of this post on how to win a copy of Nacho Average Murder.

First, thanks for inviting me as a guest, Lorie and Kings River Life! You do so much to support the mystery-writing community. My first Agatha-nominated short story, Just Desserts for Johnny, was published here in 2014. Agatha-nominated editor and author Chris Roerden said this about the story:

“Just Desserts for Johnny”… is a model short story, from the perfect opening line to the satisfying, twist end. Love it!”

Following are the first two lines of Nacho Average Murder, my latest Country Store Mystery, which releases next Tuesday.

“Like Dorothy in Oz, I definitely wasn’t in Indiana anymore. At least the Wicked Witch hadn’t shown up. Yet.”

It’s the seventh book in the series. Protagonist Robbie Jordan is from Santa Barbara, so I thought I’d get her out of South Lick and send her off to her tenth high school reunion. I don’t want her southern Indiana town to turn into Cabot Cove!

Being in the American Riviera in February is quite a change from southern Indiana at any time of the year, but especially during the winter months. Santa Barbara is stunningly beautiful, with the sparkling Pacific Ocean stretching out in one direction and the Santa Inez mountains rising up in the other. The temperature is mild, flowers are blooming, and fresh local produce is everywhere.

Naturally, the story of Dorothy Gale getting plopped down in Oz came to mind. As a child, I was an avid fan of the original L. Frank Baum books. My family had early edition copies (these three were published in 1903, 1905, and 1910), and I read them over and over: Ozma of Oz, The Tin Woodman of Oz, Tik-Tok of Oz, and more. These more than a dozen books are fantasy sagas of traveling, of peril and seeking, of characters helping each other.

I’m sure I saw the movie starring Judy Garland back then, too. I’m sorry that children today don’t read the rest of the adventures because the movie barely touches on the wide-ranging scope of Baum’s imagination and skill as a storyteller.

In February of 2019, my beau and I headed out from the Boston area on a delightful research trip to Santa Barbara. I grew up in the Pasadena area and had visited Santa Barbara, but I needed a refresher (and a vacation). At least we didn’t have to hop a cyclone to get there!

Santa Barbara

I’d finished a draft of the book and targeted a number of places I wanted to visit to make sure I had the details right. We hit the pier, the Mission, the Farmers’ Market, the beach, and the courthouse. We climbed up the tower to its lookout platform and ate at a couple of restaurants mentioned in the book, sampling microbrews and margaritas as we went. We also visited the historical museums. History isn’t part of the book, but it’s what we like to do – and we were on vacation.

I definitely knew I wasn’t in Massachusetts anymore – just like Dorothy and Robbie. And as Robbie did, I could take an airplane home (sniff, back when traveling was safer than it is right now…) instead of clicking my red heels together.

Robbie Jordan temporarily leaves Pans ’N Pancakes, her country store in South Lick, Indiana, to visit Santa Barbara—where wildfire smoke tinges the air, but a more immediate danger may lie in wait.

While looking forward to her high school reunion back in California, Robbie Jordan’s anticipation is complicated by memories of her mother’s untimely death. At first, she has fun hanging out with her old classmates and reuniting with the local flavors—avocados, citrus, fish, and spicy Cali-Mex dishes. But when she gets wind of rumors that her mother, an environmental activist, may not have died of natural causes, Robbie enlists old friends to clear the smoke surrounding the mystery. After her mom’s friend is murdered, what Robbie finds could make it hard to get back to Indiana alive…

Buy links:
Amazon, B&N,

Readers: What’s your favorite fantasy saga book? Have you read the Baum books? I’d be happy to send one of you a signed book (US) or an ebook (anywhere else) after my box of books comes in next week!

To enter to win a copy of Nacho Average Murder, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “nacho,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen July 4, 2020. U.S. residents only for print copy, 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.

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 Podcasts, and Spotify. A new episode went up Tuesday!

The first chapters of one of Edith’s books as Maddie Day went up in a podcast episode recently. You can find it here, or check out the player below:

You can use this link to preorder the book on Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

Maddie Day pens the Country Store Mysteries and the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries. As Agatha Award-winning author Edith Maxwell, she writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries and short crime fiction. With twenty-one books in print and more in production, Maxwell/Day lives north of Boston, where she writes, gardens, cooks, and wastes time on Facebook. Find her at and on social media:
Twitter @Edith Maxwell
Instagram-Maddie Day
Facebook: Maddie Day-Author
Facebook: Edith Maxwell-Author

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.


    • Good luck, Kara!

  1. Doing research sounds like an
    excellent reason for a road trip.
    Would love to try this series.

    • It was a lovely trip, Mary.

  2. My favorite fantasy saga book is A Wrinkle in Time. The Baum books are classic and extraordinary. I love them since they give me great pleasure and they are treasures from a different day and age which I miss. I would love to receive a print signed book which I would cherish and share with my grandchildren who are avid readers. I buy them books which they enjoy, appreciate and keep forever.

    • Books make the best presents!

  3. A very nice post about OZ. I grew up watching the movie on tv and was terribly frightened by the flying monkeys. And I love “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” the song nearly deleted from the movie.

    • Thanks, Vicki!

  4. Excited for this. Would love a print copy.

    • Thanks, Alicia.

  5. Sounds like a great addition to the series. Looking forward to reading.

    • Thank you, Dianne!

  6. Love the title of the book, and I read the Baum books when I was younger! tWarner419(at)aol(dot)com

    • They are such good reads.

  7. I liked the Children of the Old War series by H. John Spriggs.

    Count me in the drawing!

  8. I’ll have to check those out, Glen

  9. I like the Harry Potter books. Thanks for the contest.

    • A fabulous saga, of course!

    • They are fabulous.

  10. I think I read a couple of them when I was a kid. My favorites are Harry Potter, A Song of Ice and Fire, and The Dark Tower books. JL_Minter(at)hotmail(dot)com

  11. I went to college at UCSB – loved it! Went back for a reunion several years ago but have not been since the flooding and mudslides in Montecito. The campus has changed a lot in 40 years. Spending quaratine reading the alum publication Coastlines. Anxious to read your fictional version. Stay safe!
    karen 94066 at aol dot com

  12. We have a winner!


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