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July Food Penguins


FROM THE 2015 Articles,
andCynthia Chow,
andFood Fun,
andMysteryrat's Maze

by Cynthia Chow

It’s time for some more fun food mysteries from Penguin-Macaroni and Freeze: A Comfort Food Mystery by Christine Wenger, Peaches and Scream: A Georgia Peach Mystery by Susan Furlong, Butter Off Dead: A Food Lovers’ Village Mystery by Leslie Budewitz, & Fatal Reservations: A Key West Food Critic Mystery by Lucy Burdette. Details on how to win copies of all of these books at the end of this post, along with a link to purchase them.

Macaroni and Freeze: A Comfort Food Mystery by Christine Wenger
Review by Cynthia Chow

Trixie Matkowski loves winter, even the harsh January ones near Lake Ontario in Sandy Harbor, New York. The local weather girl, Heather “Flip a Coin” Flipelli, may be hit-or-miss with her blizzard predictions, but it’s a real heavy snow that collapses the roof of the local library and destroys its entire book collection. Once again unable to say no, Trixie finds herself heading a macaroni-and-cheese contest to raise funds to rebuild. The appearance by Priscilla Finch-Smythe (television cooking host and the Countess of Comforting Comfort Food) as a guest judge will guarantee contestants’ willingness to pony up the one-thousand-dollar entrance fee.

Forty years ago the countess was merely Mabel Cronk, and it wasn’t until she left Sandy Harbor that she assumed her pseudo-British personality, along with a condescending attitude and entourage. Trixie’s a little put out and isn’t shy about vocalizing her opinion, so when she discovers Priscilla’s strangled body, the Silver Bullet Diner owner once again finds herself in the hot seat and the target of gossip.book

Of course, Trixie is unable to sit idly by under house arrest while handsome deputy sheriff Ty Brisco investigates. With some help from her friend Antoinette, Trixie soon learns that Priscilla’s stepson is eager for an inheritance, her assistant is more than ready to assume control over the next cookbook, and a church group is accusing the countess of stealing recipes.

Once again Christine Wenger delivers a light-hearted and fun mystery that celebrates eccentric people and diner cuisine as comfort food. The banter between characters is always very funny without being over the top, and the relationship between Ty and Trixie is as intriguing as it is flirtatious.

Antoinette Chloe has become a standout character: the muumuu’d wearer of flip-flops and fascinators could easily become overbearing and too outrageous, but is far savvier than she appears and not shy about using preconceptions to slyly outsmart suspects and the police alike.

Although the culprit may be spotted early, the author continues to throw in curveballs with enough suspects to keep readers on their toes. Recipes at the end are the perfect dessert for this delightful novel that will satisfy readers’ cravings for a comical and very reliable cozy mystery series.

Peaches and Scream: A Georgia Peach Mystery by Susan Furlong
Review by Cynthia Chow

Nola Mae Harper has reluctantly returned home to help with her family’s peach harvest. She’s Cays Mill’s black sheep, and this is her first visit in three years. But her mother Della has just won a Caribbean cruise with her peach chutney recipe, and Nola’s parents want to take off for a real honeymoon. The timing is bad, as it’s the Peach Harvest Festival, but Nola was just downsized to a desk job at Helping Hands International so she can assist.

Small towns have long memories, and no one is shy about reminding Nola about her absence. Old resentments still remain, but more alarming is the new antagonism surrounding Ben Wakefield, owner of the Wakefield Lumber Mill. When his body is discovered on the Harper farm, Nola’s brother-in-law is immediately arrested. book

With her sister Ida Jean pregnant, and feeling guilty for having fled Cays Mill soon after high school, Nola begins doing everything she can to clear her brother-in-law… in addition to saving Harper Farm. Helping Somalian refugees was easy compared to the emotional heartbreak that complicates her plans to innovate the family’s peach business and market her family’s recipes.

The author, who also writes mysteries as Lucy Arlington, charmingly depicts the quirks and beauty of a small Georgian town. Comfort casseroles, the power of gossip, and chapter-heading Georgia Belle Facts are all delightful attributes of this distinctly Southern novel.

Even more fascinating is the development of Nola’s character, a courageous heroine fearless when performing rescue and charity work in Indonesia, Darfur, and the Sudan, but skittish when in the presence of anyone who reminds her of her secretive past. The shame that caused Nola to flee her home is skillfully and slowly revealed, and it is just as compelling a mystery as that of the murder. This character development allows for the promise of romance, a new path for a career, and more than enough peach lore and recipes to entertain readers in this witty and often very emotional début cozy series.

Butter Off Dead: A Food Lovers’ Village Mystery by Leslie Budewitz
Review by Cynthia Chow

It’s been ten months since Erin Murphy left Seattle to help run her family’s Glacier Mercantile store in Jewel Bay, Montana. During this time, Erin has devoted herself to transforming the “Merc” into a market specializing in whole, natural, and locally produced goods. She’s also helping the town become more of a year-round tourist attraction through a continual roster of special events and festivals. The First Annual Food Lovers’ Film Festival showcases movies and their featured meals, and Erin is assisting artist Christine Vandeberg in organizing the event.

When Christine is murdered, Erin not only takes over her job but also assumes the responsibility of discovering who killed the woman who nearly twice became her sister-in-law. Erin’s brother Nick is accused of murder, and his refusal to tell the truth about his whereabouts is as frustrating as it is heart-breaking. book

Using her Spreadsheet of Suspicion, Erin maps out those with a motivation to kill a woman who recently inherited valuable artwork. In the meantime, she must also balance out how to ensure the festival’s success. Erin may have issues with giving up control, but that’s nothing compared to her mother Fresca, who continues to challenge Erin’s ideas about how to run the Merc.

This third in the Food Lovers’ Village Mystery series advances plots established in the début and follows characters finding preconceptions about their lives suddenly challenged. In additional to the descriptions of food and recipes, Budewitz also crams the novel full of movie lore, art appreciation, and the complexities surrounding the study and protection of wolves.

Jewel Bay feels populated by entirely real personalities as complicated as they are entertaining, with Erin being the most empathetic and engaging of them all. She may be an adult with a new and rewarding romantic relationship, but working with her mother can still reduce Erin to feeling—and acting—like a child. As long-established plots are resolved and misunderstandings cleared, it will be fascinating to follow the characters’ progressions in this very elaborate mystery of family, community, and the struggle to be responsible for both.

Fatal Reservations: A Key West Food Critic Mystery by Lucy Burdette
Review by Cynthia Chow

Taking up less than ten square miles, Key West survives on charging high real-estate prices and milking every last dollar out of tourists. Trends in food and restaurants are always evolving, from ethic cooking to pop-up restaurants to food trucks… and, now, floating restaurants. For Goodness’ Sake is the latest entry into this unique field of restaurants located on docked boats, but it will have to fight Key West city administration as well as competing restaurants to be permitted to conduct business.

As the food writer for Key Zest and its new “Paradise Lunched,” Hayley Snow is covering the hearing as well as reviewing the promising new restaurant. Also on the heated agenda is whether to renew the street artists’ Artistic Performances Preservation Society’s lease to perform for the lucrative Sunset Celebration.book

The hearing itself may be interrupted by an angry street performer, but it is juggler Bart Frontgate who causes the most dissension along the prized walkways. With a tendency toward bullying the crowd for tips, Bart gives more gracious performers a bad reputation. When he is literally shish-kabobed—skewered by one of the very forks he used to juggle flaming meat—suspicion is focused on tarot card-reading Lorenzo. Circumstantial evidence certainly points his way, and his fleeing the island doesn’t help.

One of Hayley’s strongest characteristics is her loyalty: nothing incites her to action more than a threat to her friends, and Lorenzo has been a source of comfort with his readings and friendship. Her dedication to pursuing a relationship with her boss Wally will be tested, as his mother’s ailing health and his professional ambition continually make Hayley his lowest priority. Let’s just say that it’s never a good sign when a man forgets Valentine’s Day when you just started dating! So it’s fortunate that Hayley continues to be surrounded by her own good friends and family, who have grown in considerable number on this close-knit, unique island.

While Burdette continues to explore the Key West food scene that makes the restaurant business so compelling, here she introduces readers to an entire new world. Who knew that street performers have their own hierarchy, or that their political relationships are as intricate as those of any business or country? They may be less nuanced, but they are far more ruthless to those threatening their established order.

Wonderful quotes enhance each chapter, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the wonderful descriptions of food. Hayley’s knowledge of the psychology behind diners’ choices is just the final seasoning on this fun, smartly plotted mystery.

To enter to win a copy of all 4 food Penguins, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “july food,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen July 18, 2015. 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. And if you are also a lover of food, check out KRL’s monthly food column How I Met My Dinner and get some great recipes!

Click on this link to purchase any of these books:

KRL Banner Ad - Always a Kicker

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lynn Demsky July 11, 2015 at 10:56am

Wow! What a wonderful pile of great reads! Hope I win – thanks for offering them to us!


2 Jeanetta S. July 12, 2015 at 3:33am

Awesome collection of cozy mystery books. Thank you for the chance to win.


3 Caryn St.Clair July 12, 2015 at 6:46am

Oh my gosh I would love to win this book pile!


4 Caryn St.Clair July 12, 2015 at 3:12pm

Forgot my email stclairck(dotcom)gmail.com


5 Laurie July 12, 2015 at 7:35am

Ooh, these look good! Thanks for the reviews!


6 Annette N July 12, 2015 at 8:47am

Thanks for introductions to a couple of new to me authors. The books sound like good reading.


7 Kiki July 12, 2015 at 8:52am

So many great cozy mystery. Thanks for have a great giveaway.


8 Barbara Hawk
Twitter: @angelhwk68
July 12, 2015 at 11:27am

Oh my gosh! What a wonderful collection of books, I would love to give them a great home! Thank you for the chance!


9 Marsha C
Twitter: @MarshaC74
July 12, 2015 at 11:35am

I can’t wait to read all of these books! Love to win them!
Thanks for the giveaway and reviews.


10 Linda July 12, 2015 at 11:36am

Love reading mysterys and I love food!!


11 Patricia Wagner July 12, 2015 at 12:13pm

A great collection of books


12 Sharon F July 12, 2015 at 1:15pm

Great covers, great giveaway! I would love to win!


13 Katherine M. in Austin July 12, 2015 at 11:45pm

These all sound great! The only author I’m familiar with is Lucy Burdette (and I don’t have this one yet!), so this would be 4 new reads. Can’t beat that!


14 Judy Weaver July 13, 2015 at 7:37am

Awesome giveaway!! I would love to win and read all of these books!!


15 Cyn209 July 13, 2015 at 7:46pm

what a great selection of books!!
thank you for the giveaway……..


16 Valerie Hoynacki July 14, 2015 at 3:15pm

WOW! WOW! WOW!! What a great (and tasty) collection!!


17 Peggy July 15, 2015 at 2:18pm

Awesome collection of cozy mystery books. Thank you for the opportunity!!


18 Vickie Williams July 15, 2015 at 2:49pm

This is a great contest…nice choice of books


19 Pamela Johnson July 15, 2015 at 3:05pm

I would love to win these. I just started reading Leslie and have to new author to follow and read. Thank you for the opportunity.


20 ANN*H July 15, 2015 at 4:13pm

What great books – would love to win them.


21 Constance See July 15, 2015 at 5:52pm

AMAZING collection of tempting reads. Can’t wait to dig my fork into them.

Constance See


22 Elaine Ellen July 15, 2015 at 8:06pm

What a great prize!


23 Kathleen Bylsma July 15, 2015 at 9:44pm

I would absolutely be thrilled to win these books! Authors whose work I’m familiar with and Ms. Furlong’s new series with which I’d love to become familiar!


24 Barb Wiesmann July 15, 2015 at 10:54pm

What a wonderful set of books. I’m going to read them all!


25 Faith Davis July 16, 2015 at 2:00am

What a great giveaway! Fingers crossed!


26 Kathleen Costa July 16, 2015 at 8:11am

I am a new convert to the ‘cozy mystery’ community. I’ve downloaded several books from exciting, addicting series from creative authors. The books up for giveaway are on my ‘must read’ list! Love it!


27 Stacie Amelotte July 16, 2015 at 5:29pm

LOVE culinary cozies! Awesome giveawa! So many great series, would love to win. 🙂
Scouts579 (at) aol (dot) com


28 Marilyn Watson
Twitter: @MarilynWatson18
July 17, 2015 at 3:34am

Wow now this is what I call a Contest. Great bunch of books and everyone looks a treat. Thank you for the chance.
Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com


29 Diane Blaser
Twitter: @DblaserDiane
July 25, 2015 at 11:18am

This is a fantastic giveaway for a mystery genre fan like me! Thank you so much for the chance to win these wonderful titles!


30 lnd_thorne@yahoo.com
Twitter: @lindamthorne
July 26, 2015 at 11:35am

I’m starting to recognize the authors now. I’m not commenting to win since I’ve won a lot on other blogs lately – just glad to see all the new books and becoming familiar with more author names.
A recent post from lnd_thorne@yahoo.com: Book Cover RevealMy Profile


31 Lorie
Twitter: @mysteryrat
July 28, 2015 at 2:48pm

We have a winner
Lorie Ham, KRL Publisher


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