by Cynthia Chow
& Rosemary Stevens
This week we have a review of a fun new food mystery written by Ellery Adams and Rosemary Stevens. We also have a fun food and mystery guest post by Rosemary. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a Kindle copy of Pasta Mortem along with 2 cute Halloween kitchen towels, and a link to purchase the book from Amazon.
Pasta Mortem: A Supper Club Mystery By Ellery Adams and Rosemary Stevens
Review by Cynthia Chow
The Supper Club of Quincy’s Gap may have initially formed as a diet support group, but the five members have bonded through murder investigations as much as through their many weight fluctuations. With all of them having experienced post-winter holiday gains, they are eager to get back on track with their resolutions by starting a new Mediterranean Diet.
The distraction of the cast and crew of an 80s television show coming to town to film a rebooted version is more than welcome, at least that’s until they discover hidden motivations. One of its stars is now the editor of a lifestyle magazine, and its profile of Quincy’s Gap as one of the best small towns to live, and local residents are not happy with the probable influx of new visitors. When a developer leading the forefront of change is found dead, his girlfriend becomes the prime suspect when more of the deceased secrets come to light. The Supper Club isn’t eager to help the newspaper owner prove her innocence, having been burned by her lies and portrayal of them in her new book. Head Librarian James Henry may have moved on from his ex-girlfriend, but he still can’t let Murphy Alastair go to prison for a crime he doesn’t believe even she could commit.
As the colorful cast of Hearth and Home descends on the town bringing overzealous fans and even more tourists, the Supper Club deploys their unique talents to once again delve into murder. The complications of life may occasionally divert them from their mission, as Deputy Lucy Hanover sees her fellow officer and boyfriend be tempted by an actress, two members face the challenge of interracial dating, and James’s wife teeters on the brink of giving birth. Their bonds of friendship will support one another through every obstacle, although a lot of stress-eating may also be involved.
Throughout these books the characters have developed a complex web of relationships, and it is fascinating to have seen many of them progress from friends to lovers to frenemies and back to friends. Fans of Ellery Adams, and here her collaborator Rosemary Stevens, won’t be surprised that this has been portrayed here so naturally and realistically. James has never been more vulnerable and insecure, and his love for his family and friends make him an irresistible hero. This seventh of the series, which began being written under the name J.B. Stanley, continues to delight with its humor, warmth, and extremely rewarding ending.
Food and Murder Go Together
by Rosemary Stevens
Co-author of Pasta Mortem
When it comes to cozy mysteries, food and murder go together like arsenic and peanut butter. Oops, I meant chocolate and peanut butter!
Maybe the popularity of culinary mysteries derives from the comfort food can bring. Let’s face it: the taking of a human life is a horrible event and reminds us of our own mortality. Food, on the other hand, reminds us we’re alive. It can even make us hopeful for the future; after all, who doesn’t break open the cookie and read their fortune after a meal of Chinese food?
The Supper Club mysteries feature five people in Quincy’s Gap, Virginia, who came together and formed a supper club. With weight loss as their goal, they take turns hosting a healthy dinner. An unexpected side effect is that they become close, loving friends. And when someone is murdered in their small town, they band together to find the culprit. However, the stress of catching a murderer can derail their diets. That’s exactly what happens in the new book, Pasta Mortem, a locked room culinary mystery.
Take Lucy Hanover for example. She’s worked hard to make the jump from administrative assistant to sheriff’s deputy. But her secret vice is that she keeps a can of cake frosting in her vehicle for “emergencies.” I suspect that somewhere at Lucy’s house—which is guarded by her three German Shepherds: Benatar, Bono, and Bon Jovi—there’s a photo of a three-year-old Lucy, pointed party hat on, laughing, with her face covered in birthday cake frosting.
Ah, food memories. We all have them. James Henry, Head Librarian in Quincy’s Gap is on his way to question Buford Lydell who has recently sold his peach farm to a shady developer. Said developer had been murdered the night before. As James drives to the farmer’s house and looks out over the peach tree groves, memories of summer visits when he was a boy flash through his mind. He can almost taste the delicious peaches, the juice running down his chin, as he and his parents laugh in the summer sunshine. The memory is bittersweet as James’s mother passed away a few years before. Later in the story, James finds a special way to honor his mom.
Sometimes the characters in culinary mysteries are introduced to dishes they’ve never tried before. In Pasta Mortem, Brazilian art teacher Lindy Perez, is newly married to high school principal Luis Chavez, who hails from Mexico. Lindy has an adversarial relationship with her mother-in-law, Alma, who wanted Luis to marry the daughter of one of her friends. But Alma does teach Lindy how to make Mexican flan with caramel sauce, and Lindy in turn, brings the rich dessert to one of the Supper Club meetings. None of the others have ever tried the custard-like confection. Naturally, it’s a big hit and eases the difficulty of discussing a second murder that’s taken place.
Speaking of tough subjects, when mail carrier Bennett Marshall confides some painful truths about his past, he’s able to smile when talking about fixing cereal for his younger sisters and roasting hot dogs and s’mores at camp.
Gillian O’Malley, owner of the Yuppie Puppy, is a vegetarian who loves to blend special teas that serve to calm, energize, or inspire her friends. She also slips a piece of pineapple to her appreciative tabby cat, Dalai Lama.
Food brings people together in Quincy’s Gap. Whether it’s through family members passing down treasured recipes from one generation to another, folks gathering at Dolly’s Diner over her famous meatloaf to gossip about the latest murder, or James Henry and his wife, Jane, cutting vegetables together for vegetable soup, eating is celebrated. Along with reading, of course!
Would you like a bowl of spaghetti to eat while reading Pasta Mortem? No arsenic, I promise.
To enter to win a kindle copy of Pasta Mortem and the fun Halloween towels, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “mortem,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 6, 2018. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address (so if you win we can get the towels sent right out to you), and if via comment please include your email address. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
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