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February 15, 2016 BOOKLIST
Find more Stick a Fork in It
We sift through thousands of book titles every year, and if there’s one thing that sears a title into our memory, it’s an awesomely bad pun. The authors most worth their salt in the pun game are cozy writers, and, boy, do they ever take the cake. The author of Long Quiche Goodbye, for instance, has dedicated an entire series to cheese-shop mysteries with such groan-worthy titles as Lost and Fondue and To Brie or Not to Brie. Elsewhere we find equally cornball capers: Arsenic and Old Cake, A Killer in the Rye, Assaulted Pretzel, Fonduing Fathers (a kitchen cozy set in Washington, D.C.), Going Going Ganache, A Killer Maize, Butter Safe than Sorry, Gruel and Unusual Punishment, The Hand That Rocks the Ladle, Between a Wok and a Hardplace—the list goes on. Even a diet restricted to food-related mysteries reviewed by Booklist offers a cornucopia of choices; whether you wince or guffaw is simply a matter of taste.
Batter off Dead. By Tamar Myers. 2009. 272p. Signet, paper, $7.99 (9780451227072).
If you enjoy cozies with unrelenting slapstick humor, the Pennsylvania Dutch Mysteries are your cup of tea. In the seventeenth entry of this series, 48-year-old sleuth Magdalena Portulaca Yoder is assisting at the annual Beechy Grove Mennonite Church’s pancake breakfast when local glutton Minerva J. Jay drops dead. To most people’s surprise, it’s a case of murder, not cholesterol overload.
Black Beans and Vice. By J. B. Stanley. 2010. 336p. Gale, paper, $25.99 (9781410431837).
When the “Flab Five” supper-club members decide to stave off temptation with hypnotherapy and head librarian James Henry’s young son wants to go vegan, heads begin to roll. In addition to two suspicious deaths, James must cope with a kooky animal-rights campaign, a new-old romance with his ex, and a wicked craving for anything sweet.
Gluten for Punishment. By Nancy J. Parra. 2013. 304p. Berkley/Prime Crime, paper, $7.99 (9780425252109).
After the death of her mother, Toni returns to her hometown of Oiltop, Kansas, where she moves into the family’s Victorian mansion and sets up her gluten-free business in a local bakery. Local residents are mostly supportive, until, at the grand opening, a farmer who claims wheat-free products go against God throws flour on Toni and others. When the farmer is murdered in front of the bakery, Toni becomes the main suspect.
Grounds for Murder. By Sandra Balzo. 2007. 318p. Severn, $31.95 (9780727877109).
Wisconsin PR consultant turned coffee-shop owner Maggy unwillingly agrees to organize the finals for the Barista of the Year contest at the local Java Ho coffee convention. She has arranged everything down to the milk for the lattes, prepped the judges, and tested the microphones . . . what could go wrong? Everything, apparently, after Maggy discovers the bludgeoned body of Marvin LaRoche, owner of a rival chain of local coffee shops, lying underneath the trophy table.
Long Quiche Goodbye. By Avery Aames. 2010. 336p. Berkely, paper, $7.99 (9780425235522).
Charlotte Bessette’s cheese shop, Fromagerie Bessette, may have a French name and heritage, but Charlotte lives in the small town of Providence, Ohio. Naturally, the locals just call it the cheese shop. After a grand party to celebrate the remodeling of the shop and the introduction of its wine annex, Charlotte ends the evening by finding a body outside the shop. Worse yet, the knife used to stab the victim came from her shop.
Never Say Pie. By Carol Culver. 2012. 264p. Midnight Ink, paper, $14.95 (9780738723792).
Hanna is thrilled with the success of the new Food Fair, where local vendors do brisk business. Her grandma works at the booth, too, so Hanna can shop for the delicious cheeses, candies, sausages, and more. Then a food critic who publishes a critical review of some foods at the fair, including Hanna’s pies, is murdered, and all of the maligned vendors are suspects.
Rest in Pizza. By Chris Cavender. 2012. 256p. Kensington, $23 (9780758271501).
Eleanor Swift and her sister, Maddy, agree to assist the celebrity chef invited to a grand opening. But the chef is a prima donna who argues with everyone, including Eleanor. When he is late to a book signing, the sisters find his body pinned to a chair by a kitchen knife at The Slice, the pizzeria at which they both work.
Roux Morgue. By Claire M. Johnson. 2008. 240p. Poisoned Pen, $14.95 (9781590589106).
To recover her financial integrity, pastry chef Mary Ryan is forced to return to teaching at the École d’Épicure, the culinary school where she began her career. The faculty clearly don’t get along with one another, as evidenced by the lunchtime fight in the academy’s dining room on her first day of class. Then a chef dies from an allergic reaction in the dining room, and Ryan’s life is once again turned topsy-turvy as she uncovers clues that the woman’s demise may not have been accidental.
Stake and Eggs. By Laura Childs. 2012. 304p. Berkley/Prime Crime, paper, $7.99 (9780425255575).
Childs’ Cackleberry Club series stars three fortysomething widows, Suzanne, Petra, and Toni, who run a café. In the latest outing, a bank manager is decapitated during the small town’s winter festival after running into a wire stretched across the path behind the café. Several of the women’s friends who are struggling financially become suspects, and Suzanne tries to find answers, butting heads with the sheriff in the process.
Wined and Died. By Cricket McRae. 2011. 288p. Midnight Ink, $14.95 (9780738723341).
After discovering a murder threat left behind on a minicassette tape purchased at a flea market, our sleuth, Sophie Mae, pursues what few clues she has, while we catch up with her artisan friends, from winemakers to fiber artists and other townspeople in the Pacific Northwest town of Cadyville. Cozy fans will again appreciate the extensive knowledge McRae shares about traditional crafts and skills—this entry includes information about the making of old-time beverages, from root beer to dandelion wine, and a variety of mead wine called metheglin.
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