Tag Archives: Classic Mystery

KNIGHT IN SHINING APRON by Carole Brown ~ a review

knight-in-shining-armor

 

KNIGHT IN SHINING APRON is a a cozy foodie mystery, yes. Yet it goes beyond that to become a psychological cozy tackling the issue of domestic abuse thoroughly, but also in a manner that won’t distress readers of cozies and classical mysteries. This is a well written story.

Sir Joel Peterman, an actual British knight who is a bonafide gourmet chef, is mistaken for a new hire dishwasher and gets off on the wrong foot with Starli Cameron, the owner of Apple Blossoms restaurant in West Virginia.

Starli has a lot of issues. She was severely abused by her deceased husband and as the novel opens is being stalked and threatened by her police officer brother-in-law. P.O. Roland Stratton, well respected in the town, blames her for his drunken brother’s deadly car crash. Then there’s the sulking assistant chef, the scheming kitchen worker, and the cloying banker who is in love with her. There are more twists and turn and red herrings than you can shake a spatula at.

The novel captures small town business rivalries to perfection. The culinary aspects of the novel ring true. After a break in at the restaurant where the freezer has been deliberately left open, Joel knows exactly how to save the meat. I particularly liked his menu ideas and wanted to eat dinner at Apple Blossoms.

Amazon Purchase Link

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Sancturary Point Series ~ all the covers

I’ve been remiss. I never took a photo of my entire Sanctuary Point historical whodunit series ( Desert Breeze Publishig). So, I finally took one and might as well post it now.

IMG_1139


“Humorcide” ~ Is it a bird, a plane, a new sub-genre?

Murder Book

Is it when you hate the heinous killer, but you’re still laughing?

Or, maybe, when the twists and turns give you thrills and chills and giggles?

hand gun 2

Humorcide…a dealy funny murder mystery. Grittier than a cozy, which are usually laced with humor. A classic mystery, a whodunit, that gives the reader hearty chuckles and belly laughs.

Harmful Intent, Framed

HARMFUL INTENT is “humorcide.” A deadly funny whodunit. Twists and turns, thrills and chills, a budding romance. Husband of one year cheated on her. Deputy thinks she migh’ve shot him dead. The laughs roll with the action when a when a Yankee female sleuth messes in west Texas murder case to clear her name.

Okay…so gimme an idea what it’s about…

Betrayal runs in private investigator Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels’ family. So, why is she surprised when her husband of one year cheats on her? The real shock is his murder, with the local lawman pegging her as the prime suspect.

Ronnie Ingels is a Brooklyn bred private investigator who travels to west Texas, where her cheating husband is murdered. As she hunts the killer to clear her name, she becomes the hunted.

Deputy Sergeant Dawson Hughes, a former Army Ranger, is a man folks want on their side. Only he’s not so sure at first, he’s on the meddling New York PI’s side. As the evidence points away from her, he realizes the more she butts in, the more danger she attracts to herself.

Sweet, askance romance, warm intimacy, sophisticated themes presented tastefully…that’s HARMFUL INTENT.


Holding Out For A Significant Crime Fiction Hero ~ Heroine

Detective, In Morgue

One of the best things about crime fiction is getting into the head and heart of an incredible hero/heroine. Does he have to be the nice and honorable guy next door who morphs into a superheo? No, he doesn’t! Not for me!

She could be that stalwart homicide detective, a beleaguered single mom with a defiant kid, and she’s fighting crime against all odds. He could be highly flawed. Perhaps a heavy drinker or former alcoholic fighting his own demons as he labors on to catch a heinous killer. I want the hero or heroine to arouse my emotions. I want to feel their distress, root for them when the odds against them seem astronomical, and fear for them when they encounter danger  as they run their course.

Antisocial is perfectly fine for a crime fiction hero/heroine — as long as the character gets their hooks in me. They “gotta have heart” to get me to recommend the book. No matter how jaded they’ve become (and I love jaded heroes), on some level they have to believe they’re there to protect and serve. They have to seek justice for innocent victims of crime. And when the victim is not so innocent, even if it’s their um-teenth homicide, they can’t be indifferent to murder’s pain and suffering…even if they want to be.

I also go for a heroine/hero who is aware of the inherent injustice within society where there are always haves and have nots. I can appreciate a detective who gives a basically good bloke who’s made a few mistakes a break. The ghettos are populated with mostly ordinary citizens who are trying to provide for their families and have a good life. My type of hero/heroine would be angered by predators who commit atrocious acts, even if they hail from the underclass. My type of heroine/hero would relentless pursue the killer no matter if she/he were from society’s A-list, the boardroom, or the hood.

Above all else, I have to believe the hero/heroine is a cop. If you’ve taken, or know someone who’s taken a criminal justice course in college, then you might be familiar with the proverbial lecture on “the police officer’s psychological profile.” Police officers take psych tests when they apply for their jobs. So, it could be argued that the police force choses a certain personality for the job. Be that as it may, there is a “cop personality.” Police departments tend to be looking for officers who are efficient, pragmatic, conservative, cynical, suspicious, and action oriented. Even sleepy little villages who have never experienced a homicide want this type of police officer. In today’s law enforcement environment the smallest of police forces are incredibly professional. The local yokel who makes it onto the force is, for the most part, a thing of the past. Barney Fife is no more. Of course we write fiction…and if the story is a cozy, a Barney Fife might be just what the author desires.

For those writing detective stories, suspense, and/or thrillers that more realistic “cop personality” might give the main character traits that garner acclaim for him on the job. However, they can wreak havoc in a marriage and as a parent (cynical, suspicious). So our crime fiction hero/heroine might be doing well in the police department carving out a distinguished career while her/his private life is falling apart. This makes for interesting, multi-dimensional reading.

Graphic courtesy of Microsoft online images


ENTANGLED by Barbara Ellen Brink ~ a review

Entangled

 

Author Barbara Ellen Brink has been connected to the Grace Awards for a couple of years. Her supernatural thriller SPLIT SENSE won the Grace Award 2011 in the Speculative Fiction category. She was also a judge in the Young Adult category in 2011. So, it’s an honor and a pleasure to let everyone know how much I enjoyed the first book in her California winery mystery series.

 

*****

Sometimes long past memories are like ghosts coming back to haunt us.

Minneapolis divorce attorney, Wilhelmina “Billie” Fredrickson, inherits her adventurer uncle’s Californian winery. She’s determined not to leave her present life by moving to the left coast. She’s merely going to attend to all the legal details and then put the winery on the market. She soon begins having the reoccurring nightmares she used to have as a girl after a boy in her high school attempted to rape her at a drunken party. He didn’t get too far, as she broke his nose with a wine bottle, giving him a concussion. This is no helpless heroine, yet she is plagued by buried and conflicting emotions from her past she’s rather duck than deal with.

Arriving in California, Billie is immediately attracted to attorney Handle Parker, who was her Uncle Jack’s legal eagle. However, she can’t shake the feeling that he seems to resent her inheriting the Fredrickson Winery. One of the lines I most enjoyed in the novel is…I knew he questioned the validity of my receiving my uncle’s holdings, as though I’d conspired to put a voodoo curse on Jack before he died, which was preposterous since I was raised Lutheran.

Author Barbara Ellen Brink has crafted complex characters. Billie has many secrets, most of them hidden from herself. She’s got a complex relationship with Sabrina, her protective mother. And Billie has a tendency to run away from her problems. She’s definitely pushing down disturbing memories of a long lost summer at the winery twenty-years ago when as a girl she first met Handle as well as the many not so subtle hints that her mother has quite a few secrets of her own.

A break-in at the winery and the discovery of troubling photographs forces Billie to face her past. Then there’s vandalism which is a serious setback to her plan for putting the winery on a local winery tour. And let’s not forget the attempt upon her life. All these add up to one enticing mystery read. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself yearning for an aromatic glass of California wine and perhaps a slice or two of good cheddar.

wine grapes

Amazon/Kindle: http://amzn.to/14iCFIC

Barnes and Noble/Nook. http://bit.ly/14y0NuT

 


Recipes From the Kitchens of Sanctuary Point

Baking, Apfelstrudel, Apple Strudel

Some say I write “Foodie Fiction,” while others say I’m a crime fictionista. I’m okay with both of those. How about I’m a crime fictionista who writes foodie fic that also happens to be action packed, classic, historical whodunits with romance set in the mid-1940s?

Whatever the case may be, I love to pour over recipes. And here are two favorite recipes of mine that would’ve been used my characters in my Sanctuary Point series.

Apple Strudel is mouth watering. My paternal grandmother used to make this delicacy and our entire family enjoyed it so much. It’s a fairly complex confection to bake. There is several steps to it. The end result is well worth the effort. An amazing thing happened after I had finished writing BURNING HEARTS and my editor had the manuscript. I was reading it over and realized Mrs. Brogna was amazingly like my grandmother. I remember my grown father stealing a confection before she was ready to set it out on the table. She smacked him on the behind with a towel and chased my dad around the kitchen table while he laughed. That is something Mrs. Brogna would do.

Apfelstrudel – If I had Mrs. Brogna’s old-fashioned apple strudel recipe, this would be it.

Apple Strudel Dough:

2 ½ C flour

¼ tsp. salt

2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. vegetable oil

13 tbsp. water

1. Combine the ingredients in a bowl.

2. Stir with a spoon until the dough forms a ball.

3. Knead the dough until it is smooth and no longer sticky.

4. Form the dough into a ball and coat it with additional oil. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to sit at room temperature for an hour.

5. On a well-floured surface, roll the dough into a 9X13 rectangle.

6. Keep surface well-floured and gently flip the dough rectangle, keeping the long side toward you. Roll out as thinly as you can without breaking the dough. About 3 ft. X 2 ft. or slightly more.

Apple Strudel Filling:

½ C dark raisins

6  medium to large chopped, peeled and cored Granny Smith apples (not as fine as diced)

¾ C granulated sugar

1 tsp. lemon zest (grated lemon rind)

4 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. cinnamon

1. Mix all ingredients together.

Preparing the Apple Strudel:

1 C melted butter

½ C white unseasoned breadcrumbs

1. Brush dough with slightly more than half the melted butter.

2. Evenly sprinkle the buttered dough with breadcrumbs.

3. Spread the filling along the longest edge of the dough as if it were a log.

4. Begin to roll the dough and the log of filling, slowly and gently.

5. Place the rolled strudel seam down in a horseshoe shape on a greased baking sheet.

6. Brush the remaining butter over the top of the strudel. Sprinkle a tiny bit of granulated sugar    on top.

7.Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. Serve either warm or at room temperature.

BH, Paper Back

BURNING HEARTS:

Can a sheltered young seamstress, disillusioned by the horrors of WWII, escape an arsonist/murderer who has killed her employer and mentor, while trying to decide if she can trust the dashing war hero who’s ridden into town on his Harley—who some say is the murderer?

Erica Brogna’s parents doted on her and taught her to think for herself. Many boys she grew up with had fallen in the WWII, shaking her childhood faith. In rides a handsome stranger, at the hour of her most desperate need. A woman who is her close friend and mentor is trapped in a burning house. After making an unsuccessful rescue attempt, Erica stands by as this man rushes into the inferno and carries her friend’s lifeless body out.

Lorne Kincade can’t out run his past on his Harley Davidson WLA, the civilian model of the motorcycle he rode in the war. He’s tried. He’s been a vagabond biker in the year since the war ended. His Uncle Ivar bequeathed him a ramshackle cottage in Sanctuary Point, on the Great South Bay of Long Island, NY and now he’d like to hope for a future again, repair the miniscule place, and settle down. The only problem is, a young woman with hair the color of mink is starting to get under his skin and that’s the last thing he needs

Amazon/Print and Kindle. http://amzn.to/1b9pulE

Barnes and Noble/Nook. http://bit.ly/16A4y0b

Kolache

Kolacke (the precursor of Linzer Tarts)

Renata Lenart made hers with raspberry jam and served them on New Year’s Day in GOODBYE NOEL, the Christmas/New Years themed novel in the Sanctuary Point series. If I had Renata Lenart’s recipe, this is what it would be.

1/2 C butter, softened
1 small package cream cheese (3 oz.), softened
1 1/4 C all-purpose flour
1/4 C jam (raspberry, strawberry, or apricot)
1/4 C confectioners’ sugar

1. Cream butter and cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl with an electric mixer, until fluffy. Add flour, and mix well.

2. Roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface; cut into circles with a 2-inch round cutter.

3. Place 2 inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheet. Spoon 1/4 teaspoon of the jam on each cookie; fold opposite sides together slightly overlapping edges.

4. Bake at 375°F for 15 minutes.

5. Remove to wire racks to cool; sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar while still warm.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Goodbye Noel

GOODBYE NOEL:

The first body is found under a trimmed Christmas tree, the second as they ring in the New Year (1947), the third goes head long out a window. Will a young pediatric nurse determined to make it on her own be able to care for an infant whose mother was murdered and escape the killer who has struck again? Can she trust the stalwart village detective with her life and her heart as he works to catch this killer before somebody else dies?

Pediatric nurse, Katrina Lenart, grew up strong willed and independent minded, while sharing her mother’s flair for high fashion. When the police chief gives her an orphaned baby to care for, her maternal instincts take over and she’s willing to fight anyone who might not have the infant’s best interests at heart, even the man she’s growing to love. After an attempt is made to kidnap the baby, she and the resolute village detective team up and do some sleuthing, undercover at a cult as well as at a fancy ball.

Detective Ian Daltry is a widower with a child and is not interested in a new love. Hunting a killer who stops at nothing has placed him in the position where he must protect a beautiful young woman he’s drawn to. Is there’s something he’s overlooked in analyzing the case? Will he find out what that is before this ruthless murderer kills someone he loves?

Amazon/Kindle. http://amzn.to/11L4fUc

Barnes and Noble/Nook. http://bit.ly/18TPVLc

Do you love delish baked goods? Love to pour through recipes? I especially love to do that right before a holiday. I’ll pile up stacks of cookbooks, some of them quite old, many of them with outstanding food photography. Then about a week before the holiday I’ll make myself a strong cup of black tea (perhaps Irish) and spend hours looking through recipes and making my holiday menu.

Nike. Pix

Do you enjoy reading “foodie fiction”?

What do you love about baking and baked goods?

Leave a comment…


Love Vintage Styles and Murder? BURNING HEARTS Is For You!

BH Kindle 2

Anyone murder mystery reader who love to linger in vintage clothing stores will love

BURNING HEARTS.

Now in paperback. http://tiny.cc/vlu1vw

Fashion, Vintage

Can a sheltered young seamstress, disillusioned by the horrors of WWII, escape an arsonist/murderer who has killed her employer and mentor, while trying to decide if she can trust the dashing war hero who’s ridden into town on his Harley—who some say is the murderer?

Excerpt:

Chapter One

Long Island, New York

September 1946

 

Erica Brogna hurried down Hill Street, eager to sketch her new design, a forest green taffeta dress with a swirling skirt for a twenty-fifth wedding anniversary — her first significant assignment. She paused to inhale the salt scent on the ocean breeze, and her gaze lingered on a copse of red, rust, and gold maples near Ada’s house and dress shop.

She smiled, pulling her cardigan tight around her, and dropped the newspaper Poppa asked her to bring to her mentor and employer. She retrieved the paper and saw Bess Truman smiling as she entered Walter Reed Army Hospital. With the war over, the First Lady visited broken soldiers in long-term care. Erica slapped the paper closed before rage and depression overtook her. So many boys had not come home.

Chin jutted out, she smoothed the pleats of her skirt and marched toward Ada’s house.

She’d think on pleasant things and hand the paper over without a fuss as she did every morning.

Nothing would ruin this day.

She climbed Ada’s wooden front steps and opened the door.

Smoke filled the living room Ada had turned into a fabric shop. Erica waved a hand in front of tearing eyes. Gray vapors, like swirling fog, partially obscured bolts of fabric stacked against the opposite wall.

“Ada! Ada, answer me please.” Dropping the newspaper, Erica rushed toward the stairs, trampling Bess Truman’s image. “Ada can you hear me?”

Coughing, she grabbed on to the cutting table in the middle of the room, steadied herself, and reached for the phone — no dial tone. Perhaps the fire melted the line.

She yanked the collar of her blouse over her nose and mouth against the smoke. The stairs loomed before her, seeming as impossible to scale as Mount Everest. She lunged forward, gripping the baluster, and thrust herself up two steps. Since Ada wasn’t outside, she had to be upstairs.

As Erica climbed, the smoke thickened and swirled around her. It was darker with each step.

One hand clasped the rail and pulled, and she advanced a few more steps. Heat blasted against her skin from above, and soft crackling sounds drew her gaze to the upstairs landing.

Squinting into the smoke, she lost her grip on the banister, missed the next step, and fell backward tumbling to the bottom.

The back of her head smacked against the baluster, and wooziness followed sharp pain.

She tried to stand but couldn’t get her bearings.

Will triumphed over ability. She hoisted herself, ignoring the dull throb at the back of her skull. Her palms stung, the skin scraped off during her fall. She took a deep breath, and a coughing fit seized her. Shallow breaths were the better alternative.

Planting her penny loafer on the bottom step, Erica began her climb again, shaken but with new resolve. If she could reach the top of the stairs, she could also make it to Ada’s bedroom.

Halfway up, the scratches on her palms pulsated as the temperature rose. So did her knees — must’ve scraped those, too. The pungent smoke shrouding her darkened, and grit clung to her skin. She couldn’t see the banister or the top of the stairs and each breath took effort.

Poppa’s lectures on fire drills flashed into mind — stay low in a fire to get fresh air. She dropped to her knees and crawled, ignoring her pain. A sickening smell made her stomach lurch.

Inch by inch she crept, now three quarters of the way up. Hot, putrid air assaulted her windpipe, and she doubled over, her insides trembling.

Heaving herself forward, she maneuvered up one more step, but the smoke pushed back, choking her. She sobbed, knowing she couldn’t make it to Ada, and scrambled down, hoping she could find help.


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