Monday, October 28, 2013

Review and Giveaway: Chili Con Carnage

Chili Con Carnage (Chili Cook-Off Mystery - Book 1) by Kylie Logan

Publication Date: 10/01/2013
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Prime Crime 
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 304
ISBN-10: 0425262413
ISBN-13: 978-0425262412

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Kylie Logan on the WEB: WebsiteTwitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Excerpt from Chili Con Carnage, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.

Synopsis:

Bean there…done that…
 
Romance is supposed to be the spice of life. But Maxie Pierce is so done with bad relationships—well, almost. She just has to get rid of the latest loser, Roberto. Besides, she has more important things to worry about. Her daddy, Texas Jack Pierce, king of the chili cook-off circuit, has been missing for nearly six weeks now. In his place, she must team up with her irritating half sister, Sylvia, to promote the family business at the Taos Chili Showdown, to be judged by celebrity chef Carter Donnelly.
 
But when Maxie discovers Roberto’s body in the chef’s trailer—only hours after publicly breaking up with him while wearing a giant red chili pepper costume—she suddenly finds she’s the one in the spotlight as the police pepper her with questions. Now this Chili Chick needs to kick up the search to catch the real killer and get back to finding her father…


Thoughts:

Kylie Logan begins a new cozy mystery series with a chili cook-off spin. The first book in the Chili Cook-Off mystery series, Chili Con Carnage introduces readers to the carnival atmosphere of the cook-off circuit, with it's eccentric denizens and eclectic personalities. Logan does a wonderful job with characterization. Bringing readers characters who are easy to identify with, while remaining fresh and interesting. Readers will find this culinary mystery full of just as many hot and spicy moments as the beans in the famous Hot Cha Palace chili!

Kylie Logan is no stranger to the cozy sub-genre. She has three series' to her credit under this pen name and many other books, including the highly popular Pepper Martin series under the name, Casey Daniels. When it comes to mysteries, Logan certainly knows what she's doing. There are so many cozies today that focus on food in some way. That gives an author a real challenge in finding some form of the foodie culture to explore that will be new and refreshing. Logan has hit on an interesting concept with this series. 

Cook-offs in general bring in a host of quirky characters, whether it's chili, barbecue or any other type of food. I think Logan is tapping a very entertaining area of food, that is almost reminiscent of the carnival culture. Where cook-off participants travel around to different shows and try to beat each other with the best recipes. Logan introduces readers to a behind the scenes look at what goes into this 'cook-off' mentality and how they make it work. I loved the idea and thought Logan did a great job of pulling it off and making it fun and realistic.

Logan has a knack for characterization and that's really on display with this first in a series book. Logan has to not only introduce readers to the culture and the characters, but she also has to set up the series, create the back story and make these characters come alive for her readers. She does an impressive job with this book. Readers will be immediately drawn to the two half sisters who are forced to co-exist in on the chili cook-off circuit after their father disappears. I think Logan was going for an over-the-top cast of characters who are hot and sassy, and full of surprises.

Maxie Pierce is definitely a firecracker. Chili Con Carnage is told from Maxie's point of view and the reader gets a sense of her hot tempered and passionate attitude right from the first page. I liked this character a lot. She had sass and determination, but she also had a softer side. She has had some trouble in her love life and it once again gets her in trouble in this mystery. I liked her interactions with her over-bearing half sister and the way she looked at life in general. She may not have anyone's first pick for a good amateur sleuth, but she pulls it off with style. Logan does a fantastic job with her and readers will fall in love with her saucy voice and spit fire attitude.

The mystery aspect of the novel was well thought out and planned. Maxie is a sort of no nonsense character and her investigation proves that out. She asks a lot of questions and doesn't beat around the bush. I liked the fact that Logan goes a different direction with this one, but not having a strong police presence. Nick Falcone is a security guard, with a police background, but he isn't bogged down by rule and regulation and I think that helped him come across as a good back up for Maxie as well as a possible love interest. There were several red herring to throw the reader off and the initial suspects may not be who the reader would suspect. Overall a very well written mystery.

I'm looking forward to the next book in the series as much for the family drama as I am for the mystery. These two girls are all in when it comes to chili and love. I liked the idea about the disappearance of Texas Jack and where that theme might take the series. There is a lot going on in this book for readers to enjoy. A great first effort!

Chili Con Carnage is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!



About the Author:

So maybe you already know that I'm not just Kylie Logan, I'm also Casey Daniels and a few other writers, too. What's it like to have multiple personalities and the pen names to go with them? Well, I was once lucky enough to interview mystery great Elizabeth Peters for an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. She writes under more than one name, too, and she described the experience perfectly, “If you're only one person,” she said, “you're boring!” 

And I guess I'd add to that—if you only write one mystery series, you're boring, too! Or maybe you're just not getting visited as often by the Idea Fairy. The only way to keep that particular critter quiet is to follow where those ideas lead and to date, they've led me to write three different mystery series under the Kylie name. 

So who is Kylie? I'm a fulltime writer who has loved mysteries since I was a kid. My dad was a Cleveland Police detective, and he introduced me to Sherlock Holmes stories. He also gave me my first investigating experiences when on his days off, we'd pile into the car and hit the streets to look for stolen cars. When he retired from the force, Dad became the head of security for the Cleveland Public Library. 

Crooks and books! I guess I come by my love for mysteries honestly. 

I have a degree in English, experience as a journalist and writing teacher, and lots of ideas about interesting ways to kill people. This makes me an excellent guest as cocktail parties, but I've noticed that the hostess doesn't always trust me near the food. Could that have something to do with the book on poisons sticking out of my purse? 

I began my career writing historical romance and my book “Devil's Diamond” was nominated for a RITA award as historical of the year by Romance Writers of America. I've also written contemporary romance, young adult horror (as Zoe Daniels and Connie Laux), and one children's book, “Fright Knight,” in the RL Stine's Ghosts of Fear Street series. If you click on the “AKA” button at the top of the page, you'll see all my pen names. 

I enjoy weaving and knitting, exploring old cemeteries, and I am a beekeeper. I can't pass up an antique shop (there might be buttons in there!). I can't put down a classic book (even if I already know the story!). And I can't say no to a good bowl of chili. Lucky for me, my husband is the world's greatest chili maker. 

When I'm not writing, I'm usually with my family and our two dogs, Ernie, an adorable Airedale, and Oscar, a Jack Russell rescue who came for a short-term stay and ten years later, is still here. Those of you who have ever lived with/met/had dealings with a Russell will certainly understand how knowing him has increased my propensity for murder.



Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Chili Con Carnage by Kylie Logan.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US Addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, November 11th.

1. Please leave a comment describing your favorite chili recipe and why you love it.
2. Please fill out the FORM.

11 comments:

traveler said...

A vegetarian chili is my favorite. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Charlotte said...

Vegetarian Lasagna any day.
CABWNANA1@bellsouth.net

Linda Kish said...

My son does the cooking in our house and his chili is pretty involved and very hot. But, when I used to make it, it was meat, kidney beans, tomato soup, onions and some spice island chili con carne seasoning. I tend to go with more plain things than he does.

cyn209 said...

sadly, i have not had many varieties of chili.....i've mostly had the one served at Wendy's.....i know, that's fake chili!! LOL!!!

Dotty Kelley said...

I don't like chili, but i do like this author's other work.

Brooke said...

I love chili! Whenever I make it, I use one can of Rotel to give it a little extra kick.

justpeachy36 said...

Chili is one my favorite winter dishes. I love it made a ton of different ways, with all kinds of ingredients. I think I'd love to go to cook-off just to sample all the different kinds of chili they make.

Sue Farrell said...

I love chili---but I don't have a recipe---I just toss in whatever I think of at the time so it's always different.

lag123 said...

I like a basic chili recipe. Simple but tried and true.


lag110 at mchsi dot com

Linda Rima said...

I love my own recipe. But I do enjoy trying others at chili cook offs here in Texas. Alas, much of these are spiced to the point I can only handle a bite, but I still do try them!

And chili has to have beans! Preferably with a side of cornbread!

Carol M said...

I like a vegetarian chili with lots of green peppers. I don't like it to be too hot.