by Sandra Murphy
This week we have a review of the latest Read ‘Em and Eat Mystery by Terrie Farley Moran, along with an interesting interview with Terrie. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Read to Death, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.
Read to Death: Read ‘Em and Eat Mystery by Terrie Farley Moran
Review by Sandra Murphy
Bridgy and Sassy own Read ‘Em and Eat, a small bookstore/restaurant with fabulous food, fun décor, and always, a good read close at hand. The book clubs meet regularly, including the Cool Reads/Warm Climate group made up mostly of snowbirds, the Northerners who head south for the winter.
As a special event, Bridgy and Sassy take the ladies to the Thomas Edison and Henry Ford homes for a tour. The tour is a long one but enjoyable, especially since there are snacks served.
Oscar is the van driver, always one for a joke or to add to the commentary. Oscar is one to flirt with the ladies, too. Knowing they’re from the North, he starts telling them of his days as a dealer in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
When they get back to the restaurant, Bridgy realizes she’s missing her sunglasses and runs to catch Oscar in the parking lot. When she finds Oscar’s body in the van, stabbed with a pair of scissors, no one can figure out who had the time or the motive to kill him. Unfortunately, Bridgy looks like Suspect Number One since she found the body.
The police question her more than once so she feels the need to call for re-enforcements, aka her Mom. As far as suspects go, Oscar was fired from a part-time job on a fishing boat because of a fight with another worker. One of the book club ladies disappears right after she’s questioned so that’s suspicious. Oscar’s got a boat in the repair yard too—surely there are clues to be found.
This is the third book in the Read ‘Em and Eat Mystery series. Readers get to see a bit more of Owen, who is usually pretty scruffy, but cleans up well when it’s time to be Bridgy’s lawyer. In the meantime, the pair has their hands full, what with running the restaurant, keeping the peace between two sisters, calming their indispensable chef Miguel, and proving Bridgy’s innocence.
Miguel did share his recipe for Old Man and the Sea Chowder, Drunken Raisin Scones, and a Whiskey Icing Glaze for them.
Bridgy and Sassy are BFFs and although they may squabble, it’s rare. There’s talk of some time off which could lead to another murder but away from their familiar surroundings this time. The characters are well drawn, people you’d love to spend time with, a menu full of goodies plus Miguel’s specials, the weather is good on the beach—and there are books. What more could you ask for?
Interview with Terrie Farley Moran:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Terrie: I have been writing fiction for about thirteen years.
KRL: When did your first novel come out? What was it called? Can you tell us a little about it?
Terrie: In 2014 the first of the Read ’Em and Eat series, Well Read, Then Dead was released. It introduced Sassy Cabot and Bridgy Mayfield, owners of the Read ’Em and Eat Café and Bookstore, where the menu items often have bookish names, the tables have laminated snippets of writing by famous authors, and various book clubs meet, sometimes with a bit of rancor but always with delicious snacks. And of course there is a murder to be solved. I am delighted to say Well Read, Then Dead won the Agatha Award for Best First Novel.
KRL: Have you always written mysteries? If not what else have you written?
Terrie: Other than a couple of poems I wrote in college for an advanced English course, my writing interest has always been mysteries. My novels are cozy and my short fiction spreads across the genre from cozy to noir and everything in between.
KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series? And please tell us a little about the setting and main character for your most recent book.
Terrie: I wanted the series set in Southwest Florida because I hoped the first book would be a contemporary cozy with a tie-in to the history of the Ten Thousand Islands that line the Gulf coast of the Florida Everglades. Fort Myers Beach, a bustling tourist community, is about an hour north of the Ten Thousand Islands. Once I found the location, I developed the very “bookishly” themed Read ’Em and Eat because I wanted the characters to talk about books while they were solving murders. It all fit rather neatly. In the third book, Read to Death, feisty protagonist Sassy Cabot is determined to prove that her life-long BFF and business partner Bridgy Mayfield is not guilty of murder.
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?
Terrie: Entertainment is always the first goal but everything I write has an underlying theme usually revolving around the importance of personal relationships. Well Read, Then Dead has a focus on long term relationships be they friendships or romantic. In Caught Read-Handed the strong family support for a PTSD veteran is a key part of the story. In Read to Death, when Bridgy begins to feel like a murder suspect, having her mom fly down instantly to be by her side gives her great comfort. And isn’t that what any parent would do? Of course the fact that Bridgy’s mother, Emelia, is the total opposite of her sister, Bridgy’s Aunty Ophie, who lives and works in Fort Myers Beach, leads us to still another relationship issue.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?
Terrie: I write seven days a week. I wake up, do some sort of exercise and then I sit down at the keyboard at 9 a.m. (give or take a few minutes) every day, unless I have an appointment outside the house. On those days I write as soon as I get home. I do take a lunch break, then I continue to write until my pre-dinner exercise break. If I am on a tight deadline or having trouble with a section, I will go back to work after dinner.
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?
Terrie: I wish I outlined. I always start a project with the hope that this will be “the one”, you know, the book or story I am going to outline, but it never is. *sigh* I keep track of the story in my head and, when necessary, I write myself notes on any available scrap of paper and toss it in a pile with dozens of other scraps on a table next to my desk. Once in a while I actually sift through those scraps of paper in the hope that they will come to my rescue if I am stuck. Sometimes they do, more often they don’t.
KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?
Terrie: I am most productive in the morning.
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Terrie: Getting a novel published is extremely difficult. I began writing my first novel, Driven to Death, in 2003. It never saw the light of day. Due to the exhaustive efforts of my fantastic agent, Kim Lionetti, we finally sold a proposal package including Well Read, Then Dead, Caught Read-Handed and Read to Death in December 2012. I started writing short stories in 2006 while I was waiting for every agent and editor in the world to reject Driven to Death and I had much better luck having them published.
KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?
Terrie: Oh yes, I have a heart-warming acceptance story. Years ago, author Dave Zeltserman was the publisher of a noir e-zine called Hard Luck Stories, which I read faithfully. When Dave announced he was closing the zine, he called for submissions for the final edition which he would edit along with my absolute idol, author Ed Gorman. Having adored every word Ed has ever written, I wrote a story called “When a Bright Star Fades” and submitted for the pure joy of knowing that Ed Gorman would read my work. I was delighted when Dave and Ed accepted the story and I was totally amazed when the story was short-listed for Best Mystery Stories 2009.
KRL: Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?
Terrie: I live in Queens, a borough of New York City which has approximately two million residents. I am sorry to say that over the past two years Barnes and Noble has closed all three of their Queens stores, citing rent issues and promising to come back someday. Shortly before the Fresh Meadows store closed, I launched Well Read, Then Dead there. As my former career in New York City government had ended more than a decade before, I was astounded to see a long and treasured friend, Deputy Borough President Leroy Comrie, interrupt his hectic schedule to stop by and wish me well.
KRL: Future writing goals?
Terrie: I am working on a proposal for the Arts and Drafts series set in the fictitious city of Wishing Well in upstate New York. My short story “The Boggy Bayou Caper” is in the forthcoming Blood on the Bayou anthology, sponsored by Bouchercon 2016 with all proceeds going to the New Orleans Public Library. But I don’t have any stories in the submission pipeline anywhere else and I’d like to remedy that by writing a couple of short stories this summer.
KRL: Writing heroes?
Terrie: Anyone who can get a story written in a coherent form from start to finish is a hero to me.
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Terrie: I must confess I love research. I would rather research for a day than write for an hour. For example, seashells are an inevitable part of any beach scene. You may think a pretty shell is just a pretty shell, but I can go on for hours talking about bivalves, gastropods, and mollusks. And I will cheerfully do so. I would say that I do intensive research—-far more than is necessary for most projects.
KRL: What do you read?
Terrie: I read mysteries especially cozy novels, which is why I write them. They are my favs. And I read any and every short story I can get my hands on, which I why I visit Kings River Life each week ? you publish short stories. Yay! And thank you.
KRL: Oh wow thanks you! Favorite TV or movies?
Terrie: One of my favorite movies is 1776 which I watch every Fourth of July and several other times a year as the mood strikes. (I am secretly in love with President John Adams.) My other favorite is The Magnificent Seven. I love the concept and I love the music.
KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Terrie: I am going to quote Gillian Roberts. “Don’t write it right, write it down.” People get hung up on the mechanics of plot, characterization, tension, etc. and become so focused on writing correctly that they never get the words written down. Put the words on paper, then worry about the rest of it.
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
Terrie: I would like very much to thank you for the opportunity to chat with you and the many readers of Kings River Life. It has been a joy and a pleasure.
KRL: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us! What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Terrie: I am a total introvert, best left to my own devices. Given the choice I would never leave my home.
KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?
To enter to win a copy of Read to Death, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “read,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen July 9, 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 & short stories in our mystery section.
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