Food Mysteries For Your Thanksgiving Feast!

Nov 23, 2019 | 2019 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Food Fun, Mysteryrat's Maze, Sandra Murphy

by Cynthia Chow
& Sandra Murphy

This week we have a big group of food and drink mysteries for your Thanksgiving feast-The Chocolate Shark Shenanigans: A Chocoholic Mystery by JoAnna Carl, Apple Cider Slaying: A Cider Shop Mystery by Julie Anne Lindsey, Clarets of Fire: Rose Avenue Wine Club Mystery by Christine E. Blum, Fatal Cajun Festival: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron, Jealousy Filled Donuts: A Deputy Donut Mystery by Ginger Bolton, and Mumbo Gumbo Murder: A Scrapbooking Mystery by Laura Childs with Terrie Farley Moran. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of all 6 books, along with links you can use to purchase them. If you have ad blocker on you won’t see the Amazon links at the end of each review.

The Chocolate Shark Shenanigans: A Chocoholic Mystery by JoAnna Carl
Review by Cynthia Chow

Sharks and chocolate shouldn’t go together, but when the town of Warner Pier embraces the tourist-attracting theme of “Lake Michigan – Fisherman’s Paradise,” the family-run TenHuis Chocolade begin designing shark-shaped, sea salt dusted confections. Part owner Lee Woodyard is doing a lot of stress-eating of the chocolaty fish truffles now that she has a new mortgage hanging over her head, and her husband’s assurances that their house-flipping venture will be a long-term success do little to ease her fears of debt. Along with her Aunt Nettie’s husband Hogan Jones, they have purchased the rundown Bailey house with the intent of renovating it for sale in the newly affluent town. Even Lee’s worst fears didn’t include the discovery of a gun in their basement, uncovered by their plumber and leading back to a convenience store holdup from years past. While that prank-gone-weird only resulted in a wounded slushee machine, a very present-day crime lands Lee and her husband in trouble when the body of Richard “Spud” Dirk is found in the Bailey house carport. Joe has recently, and publicly, argued with Spud over bids to buy the fixer-upper, meaning that Police Chief Hogan is off the case when Joe is named one of the main suspects.mystery

While Joe is at first adamant that Lee let the State Police handle the matter, Hogan is the one to encourage her to delve in to the past and present crimes. It was over a decade ago that the late Spud and his high school friends took inspiration from West Side Story and named themselves the Sharks, but their exploits were more embarrassing than dangerous. Pulling out the whole story of how shenanigans involving toys guns led to very real gunfire is proving to be surprisingly difficult for Lee and Joe, especially when yet another shooting occurs in town. Intent on solving the puzzle and protecting their investment in the Bailey House, Lee and her husband discover a safe full of cash, exasperating half-confessions, and sullied reputations.

Lee may be stressed out and frustrated with her finances on the line, but she confidently pursues investigations in her beloved adopted town. The former Texan debutante still occasionally mixes up her words with malapropisms, but it’s actually her native Texan accent that does more to set her apart from the rest of the West Michiganders. Chocolate lore and information is interspersed throughout the novel, and even their fishy shapes can’t make the TenHuis Chocolade’s truffles and chocolate candies any less appealing. Readers will feel as comfortable with the Warner Pier residents as the characters do with each other, and this seventeenth in the series feels as fresh as the first. Readers will be drawn from the first page into the lives of Lee, her family, and the Warner Pier Michiganders.

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).

Apple Cider Slaying: A Cider Shop Mystery by Julie Anne Lindsey
Review by Sandra Murphy

In Blossom Valley, Virginia, Winnie and her Granny run the orchard now that Grampy passed away. Unfortunately, grieving interrupted business sense, and now, the orchard is in financial trouble.

Winnie’s a business major at the local college, almost ready to graduate at age twenty-eight. It may have taken her awhile, but at least she won’t have student loans to worry about. She’s got plenty of ideas for ways to make money during the cold winter months, too. Cider is one of them. She’s been experimenting with gourmet-flavored ciders and getting positive feedback. Now to make the big push. mystery food

If she could get a business loan, there’s a barn on the property that has architectural history. It would make the perfect setting to sell cider by the glass or the gallon, along with Granny’s jams, jellies, and pies. If only the bank’s loan officer could see the potential.

Too bad that what he sees is a dead body. Granny’s next-door neighbor is a complainer. She comes looking for Granny but apparently never makes it home. Granny is the number one suspect since the two always argued. Winnie is determined to find other suspects, and as it turns out, there are plenty to choose from. Will she find the truth before the killer decides she has to go too?

This is the first in a new series. Winnie is a likable character, prone to impulsive decisions that could put her in danger. She and Granny have a great relationship, fun together, but willing to give each other space. Winnie’s set on saving the orchard, not only for Granny but for herself since it’s where she’s happiest. There’s a possible romance, and then a complication that may cause trouble in the next book. I’m anxious to see how that goes.

This book will get you in the holiday spirit and willing to try something besides grocery store cider. The author shares recipes for Winnie’s Slow Cookin’ Cider, Hunk of Heaven Tater Salad (the mustard kind), and four-ingredient Hank’s Mama’s Dump Cake, so easy that even I could make it. It says you can vary the fruit choices and the flavor of the cake mix.

Clarets of Fire: Rose Avenue Wine Club Mystery by Christine E. Blum
Review by Sandra Murphy

The Rose Avenue Wine Club gals are at it again. When a fire breaks out at their favorite pizza parlor, killing one employee, the fire marshal declares it arson. And because the employee was hit on the head before the fire, that’s murder.

Penelope and Malcolm are opening their new winery. They’re serving wines from grapes harvested by the previous owner but next year, look for new reds, or as the Brits call it, claret, Penelope says. Halsey and Jack are now engaged and will have their wedding reception at the winery. mystery

Suspects for the murder/arson include the pizza parlor’s owners, other tenants in the strip mall, and the mall’s sleazy owners who remain anonymous behind shell corporations. In an effort to clear their friend’s names (and ensure a continued supply of pizza), the Wine Club members decide to sniff out clues of their own.

Marisol, Halsey’s elderly, snoopy neighbor, is in her element. She always knows what is going on with everyone (Halsey suspects she bugs their houses), and loves to use her spy equipment like night vision goggles, secret recorders, and more. Somehow, these situations always go better for Marisol than Halsey.

With crimes at the beach, a missing safe full of opioids, a surfer who can’t, a real estate agent who is a flamboyant liar, an overly enthusiastic search dog, and half a dozen friends who could drink you under the table and still solve the case, this is a page-turner read. Humor and suspense are mixed with lots of red herrings to add to the puzzle. The Club always eats well, too. Although no recipes are given, the ladies share how a dish was made as part of the story.

Bardot, Halsey’s search and rescue dog, steals every scene she’s in. Now she’ll have a sidekick in Malibu Rose, a new puppy for Penelope and Malcolm. Have a glass of wine and a snack while you wait for the chaos to ensue—with encouragement from Marisol, of course. Night vision goggles are optional.

Fatal Cajun Festival: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron
Review by Sandra Murphy

Maggie Crozat is engaged to marry Bo, the hunky police detective. Everyone she sees, asks “when’s the wedding?” That would be easier to answer if Grandmere hadn’t brought up the idea of Cajun Country Live! to occur right before the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. The town can advertise it as a warmup for the big event. One of the main draws is Tammy Barker, coming back to town after winning one of those singing competitions on television. She’s a big deal with the teens and pre-teens. She’s also a diva and a pain in the patoot, happy to lord her fame over lesser beings—and everyone is lesser in her eyes.

One of the problems is Tammy has a grudge against Gaynell, a young friend of Maggie’s. Gaynell has the better voice, but Tammy has the fame. Gaynell has no idea what the problem could be. On the surface, Tammy is all sweetness, but her gestures of kindness always have a sharp edge. mystery

When Tammy’s manager is killed, Tammy is sure the “accident” was meant for her, despite the fact the manager had enemies of his own. Maggie’s helped with cases before, since she knows the people in town, but this time is different due to the huge crowds visiting, there to hear Tammy sing. When Maggie receives threats, she knows she’s getting too close, but to what? With Gaynell a suspect, Maggie is determined to find the truth—while making what seems like tons of pralines to sell at the festival.

Readers will look forward to the mayhem bound to happen at Maggie and Bo’s wedding. Will they be able to pull it off? Only time will tell. In the meantime, there’s Grandmere to corral, mom and dad to rein in, guests at the B&B, her job at a neighboring plantation, painting lessons for Xander (Bo’s son), and of course, more pralines to make.

Along with a brief character list,The People of Fatal Cajun Festival, recipes are included: Cauliflower Jambalaya (which can also be made vegetarian), Shrimp Étouffée, Pecan Pralines, Maple Bacon Pralines, R.I.P. Sweet Potato Pralines (recipes made with pecans, almonds, coconut or rum, or the so-enticing maple bacon version), and Ninette’s Rum Raisin Cake with Rum Frosting. As a Lagniappe (something given as a bonus or extra gift), there’s also a section with history of the region.

This is a series I love to read. My only complaint was that Maggie’s dog and cat didn’t get more time on the page. I expect they will be part of the wedding and that will certainly make up for this lapse!

Byron has the first book in a new series (written under a pen name) coming soon. Stay tuned for details!

Jealousy Filled Donuts: A Deputy Donut Mystery by Ginger Bolton
Review by Sandra Murphy

Emily Westhill is barely over thirty-years-old and already a widow. Her husband, Alex, was killed in the line of duty as a police officer. Now she works with her father-in-law, Tom, running the Deputy Donut Café in Fallingbrook, Wisconsin. Tom is a retired cop himself, so it seemed like a natural fit.

During the Fourth of July fireworks, Emily is in charge of driving the festival’s King and Queen in the parade. The Queen, Taylor, is quite the diva and refuses to ride in a vintage car. A convertible is more her style. In fact, Taylor manages to insult everyone around her before the parade even starts. mystery

After the parade, booths open, touting the area’s attractions, including the donut café. Emily and her helper, Jocelyn, give away special holiday donuts all day. Who knew a donut could turn into a murder weapon?

A stack of raspberry-filled donuts becomes the base for a firecracker that contains marbles. It’s set off right behind Taylor. In the darkness, with the crowd looking skyward for the fireworks display, no one saw who lit the fuse. Taylor didn’t survive, and it’s a clear case of murder.

Emily was nearby when it happened. Since her donuts were part of the deadly attack, she’s under suspicion by Brent, her husband’s former partner. What can she do but help solve the case?

This is the third book in the series. Emily is a level-headed woman still mourning the death of her husband while resisting her friends’ encouragement to start dating. Emily’s cat, Deputy Donut, aka Dep, adds humor and interest to the story. The mystery is a good one, with just the right mix of suspects, red herrings, suspense, and of course, donuts.

There are recipes included, one readers will find odd, but Emily swears is a good treat. As a test, cube Wisconsin cheddar cheese and drizzle with maple syrup. If you like that, you’ll love Maple Cheddar-Filled Donuts with Maple Glaze. She also shares the how-to for Jelly-Filled Donuts (it doesn’t always have to be raspberry filling) and suggests some Party Fun, a fill-your-own-donut theme as a party ice breaker.

This tale will satisfy your appetite for an entertaining read, one that makes you want to find out who did it but don’t want it to end.

Mumbo Gumbo Murder: A Scrapbooking Mystery by Laura Childs with Terrie Farley Moran
eview by Sandra Murphy

In New Orleans, it’s an ongoing party, but during events like Jazz Fest, party time ramps up to include giant puppets from the Beastmaster Puppet Theater—and they just love to sneak up on unsuspecting folks like Carmela and Ava. Carmela is the owner of Memory Mine Scrapbooking shop and Ava owns Juju Voodoo. It’s while watching the parade, they hear a huge crash and realize it came from the direction of a friend’s antique shop. Sure enough, the front window is broken, and they can hear Devon Dowling’s Pug barking for help.

Carmela is able to get inside and discovers Devon on the floor, bleeding badly. When the EMTs announce Devon’s beyond help, it’s revealed he’d been stabbed in the ear with an ice pick! Devon was a good friend, and Carmela finds it hard to believe he’d have enemies. However, there was the instance where he was asked to value a painting that turned out to be a forgery, an employee who was not as reliable as he first seemed, and rumors that Devon had acquired a unique and incredibly valuable item- a fragment of Abraham Lincoln’s coat, the one he wore when shot at Ford’s Theater. mystery

Bring in the Vampire Society and other treasure hunters, another body, a gumbo contest, and the case gets harder to solve due to too many clues, not enough information, and never enough time.

In addition to the case, Carmela’s shop is busier than ever as she expands into other crafts beyond scrapbooking. Her love life has its ups and downs as her fiancé Edgar Babcock, also the lead detective on Devon’s murder case, is pushing for a wedding date and for Carmela to butt out of the investigation. There’s the added complication of Quigg. In Babcock’s eyes, he’s after Carmela, not too far from the truth. Quigg rented the space next to Carmela’s shop and has steamrolled her into a partnership of sorts. Ava’s love life definitely adds humor as she consults a matchmaker. After all, with Carmela married, who will Ava have for a wingman (wingwoman?).

This is book sixteen in the popular series. Carmela and Ava aren’t above putting themselves into dangerous situations but always with good intentions. Look for more changes as Carmela gets closer to a wedding date. Ava’s antics are bound to ramp up then. Don’t worry about Mimi, Devon’s pug, she’s safe in witness protection with Carmela.

Childs and Moran are always generous with added information at the back of the book. In this volume, look for Scrapbook, Stamping, and Craft Tips from Laura Childs (Dip Dye a Scarf, Autumn Burlap Flowers, Snow-Covered Wine Bottles, Little Felt Critters, Decoupaged Bears and Dogs, Driftwood Art), and Favorite New Orleans Recipes for Caramel Bread Pudding, Party Hearty Shrimp Dip, Bourbon Hot Dogs, Carmela’s Apple Dump Cake, Pecan From Jazz Tarts, Ava’s Slop-it-On Hot Dog Sauce, Easy Apple Butter, Tandy’s Buttermilk Jumbles (cookies), Crock-Pot Pork Chops, and Watermelon Dessert Bomb (the only explosion will be the flavors in your mouth).

Also included is an excerpt from the next book in Laura Child’s Tea Shop Mystery, Lavender Blue Murder, available March 3, 2020, and for pre-order now. Watch for the next New Orleans Scrapbooking Mystery, Cadmium Red Dead.

To enter to win a copy of all 6 books, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “thanksgiving food,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 7, 2019. U.S. residents only, and you must be 13 or older to enter. If entering via comment please include your email address so we can contact you if you win. 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 Play, 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:

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the Arch in St. Louis Missouri. She writes about eco-friendly topics, pets and wildlife for magazines and reviews mysteries and thrillers for KRL. A collection of her short stories, published by Untreed Reads, From Hay to Eternity: Ten Tales of Crime and Deception can be found at all the usual outlets. Each one is a little weird and all have a twist you won’t see coming.

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.


  1. I would love to win.

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  3. Thank you so much for a fabulous review! Terrie and I are excited to be included with these other great cozy authors.

  4. These all sound deliah!

  5. Wow!! Many thanks for such a warm and entertaining review of MUMBO GUMBO MURDER. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

  6. A new series yay! Recipes too awesome the dump cake sounds delicious.

  7. These all sound wonderful and I want to read all of them! Amazing authors and wonderful books ? thank you for the chance

  8. Wonderful books ? they sure look inviting

  9. What a great collection of books! Count me in!

  10. Thanks ofr the opportunity to win!

  11. Oh those sound positively delicious! Perfect for curling up in an easy chair after a big meal!

  12. Wow – what a generous giveaway – thank you so much

  13. I love so many of these series. Thanks for the contest.
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  14. How fun and perfect for the holidays to cozy up and read.

  15. So many great authors! I love Ellen Byron and Laura Childs.

  16. Would love to win these books.

  17. These all sound wonderful! I would love to win this fantastic giveaway! Mysteries! Thanks for the chance to win.

  18. Great books!

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    • I love reading cozy books and this is an incredibly generous Giveaway! Thanks so much for the chance.

  25. Wow! Amazing authors and books! Plus recipes and projects to make. What more could you want? Thank you so much for the chance. It’s like Christmas ?

  26. I would love to be the lucky winner of this harvest of books! Great authors!

  27. What a wonderful bunch of books! Awesome giveaway! Thanks for the chance!

  28. Is this how you enter to win the books

  29. Would love to read these

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  32. What a grouping of Fabulous books- Thanks for the great reviews!
    Happy Holidays y’all ??
    Kelly Braun

  33. Great collection of mysteries! I’d be forever thankful if I was the lucky winner of these books. Thanks for the chance.

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  35. What an amazing giveaway! Would love to win. Thanks for the chance!

  36. What an amazing giveaway! Would love to win. Thanks for the chance.

  37. What a great batch of books! Thanks for the chance to win!

  38. I love food mysteries and would love to try these.

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  40. winning these 6 would be wonderful.
    Get cozy on long winter afternoons
    and evenings and enjoy some good
    stories. thanks for the chance.
    Happy Thanksgiving

  41. I would love to win this. These books look amazing.

  42. This is absolutely a Great Giveaway!!! Wow! I would be so thrilled to win these books, I’d be able to read them to my mother during her chemo!

  43. So fun! Thanks for the chance!!

  44. Great give away. Thanks

  45. This is a very clever selection of books. Most of them are new to me.

  46. My mouth was watering just reading about all of the delicious mysteries!

  47. Love all these books. Hope to win. Thank you

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  50. We have a winner!


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