Food Mysteries For Your Thanksgiving Feast!

Nov 19, 2022 | 2022 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Mysteryrat's Maze, Sandra Murphy

by Cynthia Chow & Sandra Murphy

This week we have 3 food mysteries for you to enjoy with your Thanksgiving dinner-Bake Offed: A Five-Ingredient Mystery by Maya Corrigan, Death by Spiced Chai: A Bookstore Cafe Mystery by Alex Erickson, Soul of a Killer: A Books & Biscuits Mystery by Abby Collette. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of all 3 books and links to purchase them at the end of each review–you may not be able to see the Amazon links if you have ad blocker on.

Bake Offed: A Five-Ingredient Mystery by Maya Corrigan
Review by Sandra Murphy

Val Deniston has seen more than her share of dead bodies. She deserves a break from her café manager job and sideline catering business. Her best friend, Bethany, is one of the organizers for a mystery fest, far enough from home to require a hotel room and count as ‘being away.’ Val’s helping with panel discussions and is hosting the trivia contest. Her grandfather is one of the cooking demonstrators tasked with making a dish from classic mysteries. His offering is for the famous Nero Wolfe, a challenge because Wolfe’s meals always use the maximum number of ingredients. Granddad, known as The Codger Cook, never uses more than five.

When one of the three contestants is found dead in her bed, many of the mystery fans believe it’s part of the entertainment and the police detective is an actor. Val and Bethany discover the body when they’re awakened after midnight by a whistling teakettle in the next room. It had been a full day with panel discussions, the cook-off, and meals, yet the bar area is like a revolving door as participants are in and out until closing time. The hallways, stairs, and elevator are in almost constant use with witnesses only seeing glimpses of each other, making alibies hard to pin down.

A second woman collapses and is rushed to the hospital, but no one can be sure she was the intended victim. Meanwhile, valuable items are stolen, sabotage suspected, grudges held. Val has a sense of urgency to help solve the case. A police detective she knew years ago is in charge and not doing a very good job. Can the case be solved before the event ends on Sunday?

This is the eighth book in the series. Val had only moved back home to get Granddad’s house sold and him settled into a retirement or nursing home. He refused. The compromise was Val living with him. Since then, he’s thrived. Val is hard pressed to keep up. It’s a nice change to take the characters out of their comfort zone where they know all the suspects and drop them into an unknown situation. The mystery has enough hidden agendas, mistaken identities, and red herrings to give even Hercule Poirot’s little gray cells a workout.

Recipes are based on the board game Clue and include Mrs. Peacocktail, Hot Miss Scarlet Punch, Mr. Green Salad, Colonel Mustard Vinaigrette, Mrs. White Bean Chili, Professor Plum Cake, Nero Wolfe’s Lemon Sponge Cake, and Beerimisu, Granddad’s dessert for Nero Wolfe, a twist on the traditional tiramisu recipe with the substitution of stout and Kahlua for the usual espresso.

Death by Spiced Chai: A Bookstore Cafe Mystery by Alex Erickson
Review by Sandra Murphy

Krissy Hancock is one of three owners of Death by Coffee and bookstore. Business has picked up, books are selling, and she needs new employees. Her favorite employee did the work of two people, but she just left for college.

When someone screams in what’s usually a quite place, Krissy knows to go running. A customer announces as loudly as she can, there’s a cockroach in her half-drunk coffee. Before Krissy can wonder why the woman didn’t notice it before the halfway point, the woman runs for the bathroom and moments later, screams there are roaches in there too. Way to clear a room!

Krissy’s day, week even, goes downhill after that. There’s a weird phone call, a trash review about the library supposedly written by Krissy, a recent photo of Krissy’s boyfriend with his ex and looking mighty cozy, a new neighbor who doesn’t want to be friends, and a nasty online gossipy ‘newspaper’ that seems to devote most of its space to slamming Krissy. When a crime is committed, Krissy gets the blame for that too—and then there was a murder.

People can get angry about a lot of things—a mistake in their order, a misunderstood comment, a name forgotten—but someone is angry about every area of Krissy’s life. Even her cop boyfriend, Paul, can’t help her. He’s been ordered not to discuss any investigation with her. She’ll just have to see what she can find out on her own and hope she lives to tell who did it.

This is book ten in the series. What’s not to like about a bookstore with a café and a cat? The three partners get along well, business is good, and Krissy’s dad is an author whose books sell like crazy. Krissy and Paul have a good relationship which would be better if she’d stay out of his investigations. It’s a small town police department and they realize that’s not likely to happen. She takes a lot of risks by not telling others where she’s going or who she suspects and not trusting the police to do their jobs. I do hope in book eleven, Krissy remembers to charge her phone and keep it in her pocket at all times. Sorry to say, no recipes included.

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the Arch in St. Louis Missouri. She’s editor for Peace, Love, and Crime: Crime Stories Inspired by the Songs of the ’60s, with twenty-two cozy stories. She also edited A Murder of Crows, twenty-one stories featuring animals and crime (no animals were harmed). She also writes for magazines, newsletters, and the occasional guest blog. Both anthologies are available at the usual outlets, print or ebook.

Soul of a Killer: A Books & Biscuits Mystery by Abby Collette
Review by Cynthia Chow

Thanks to a DNA kit and a genealogy database, fraternal twins Keaton Rutledge and Koby Hill were reunited after being separated for over twenty years. Now having bonded and closer than ever, librarian Keaton and chef Koby have opened Timber Lake, Washington’s Books & Biscuits, their dreamed combination of a bookstore and restaurant. Koby learned his cooking skills from his foster mother Mama Zola, a new town resident who is anxiously over-preparing for her first Annual Founder’s Day Potluck at the Everlasting Mission Baptist Church. When entitled and insulting church member Austin James is found dead with a bowl of Mama Zola’s peach cobbler in his hands, she calls Koby in a panic thinking she’s about to be arrested. It’s not long before they learn that Austin was electrocuted and not poisoned, but unfortunately it also looks as though Books & Biscuits employee Pete Howers is being targeted as the culprit. While Keaton worries that she may be responsible for turning Timber Lake into another Cabot Cove and destination site for murders, threats to kick Mama Zola out of her church for helping Pete mean that they will all once again be helping out in an investigation.

Keaton’s experience as a former librarian have her utilizing all of her observational skills and knowledge with fictional mysteries to put together the pieces before the police make a hasty arrest. Keaton’s eye for details may be a little more fashion-orientated than Sherlockian, but Koby does have the focus that makes them such a formidable team. Or at least a detecting duo that puts the “amateur” in “amateur detectives,” if you go by the definition that Keaton definitely looked up. The formerly-from-Seattle Detective Daniel Chow is once again on hand to both warn and resignedly accept their help, especially when they prove to be a deft team when questioning pastors and navigating church politics.

Readers of this second of the fun and very compelling mystery series should be warned to not read this on an empty stomach, as descriptions of Koby’s and Mama Zola’s outstanding soul food are drool-inducing and so tantalizing. An energetic reporter with her own agenda offers assistance, but it’s really Keaton and Koby who both enthusiastically and reluctantly once again immerse themselves in the investigation. Koby continues his own mission to track down the birth mother who gave them up twenty-five years ago, and while Keaton is hopeful, she is also worried about what they might find. Keaton and Koby have built themselves a found family of foster mothers and friends, with their shared love of food and reading always bringing them together. Keaton’s practicality and sense of caution is balanced out by Koby’s protective instincts, making them a supportive and very loving team. Delicious soul food cooking, admirable maternal figures, and the secrets hidden within the church all make for a savory and compulsively cozy read.

To enter to win a copy of all 3 books, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “feast” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen November 26, 2022. U.S. residents only, 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 this week.

You can use this link to purchase any of these books from indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy, and KRL gets a portion of the sale:
mysteriousgalaxylogo

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).

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.

12 Comments

  1. I don’t cook much anymore so I
    enjoy reading books with chefs
    as heroes. Let them do the work.
    I’ll just read about it. thanks
    txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

    Reply
  2. Great batch of books! Count me in!

    Reply
  3. What a great contest with some diverse cozy reads! I would love them and have just read other articles on two of these authors in posts. I have a million books to read it seems, but what do a few more matter. They are my friends!

    Reply
  4. Would love to read all three. Thanks for the chance.
    diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

    Reply
  5. These sound like fun reads. Looking forward to reading them.

    Reply
  6. Bake Offed by Maya Corrigan, Death by Spiced Chai by Alex Erickson, and Soul of a Killer by Abby Collette all sound like wonderful reads!

    Reply
  7. These all sound so good. Thanks for the article.

    Reply
  8. Food themes are my favorites and I love finding and trying new recipes from them.
    kozo8989@hotmail.com

    Reply
  9. Love Maya Corrigan!

    Reply
  10. We have a winner!

    Reply

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