Food and Violence: The Perfect Pairing for a Mystery
By Lucy Arlington
Food often takes center stage in cozy mysteries because the act of sharing food is an intimate one. Food is filled with comfort. It invokes memories. And it can be made as an offering of friendship or sympathy (unless it’s laced with poison, which does tend to happen in mystery novels).
But food can be used to express less pleasant emotions. In Books, Cooks, and Crooks, the third installment in the Novel Idea Mysteries, literary agent Lila Wilkins learns just how dangerous a kitchen can be.
Consider what your own kitchen is like during holiday meal preparation. Think of the tools you use. You have sharp knives for chopping, a cleaver for hacking, a peeler for stripping rinds from fruits and vegetables, a food processor to pulverize, a blender to grind solids into liquids. If your kitchen is especially well stocked, you might also have a garlic press, slicers with julienne blades, jagged graters, razor-sharp shears, and more. Try to imagine the sounds as well. The hiss of steam, the crackle of oil in the frying pan, and smack of a chicken breast being tenderized, the gurgle and pops of water boiling on the stovetop. Next, picture the motions of a cook’s hands. The aggressive kneading of dough, the stuffing of a turkey cavity, the squeezing of a lemon over a filet of fish…
See? It’s a fairly violent process. Add vanity, anger, and the stress of competition to the mix and you have a potentially lethal combination. That’s exactly what happens in Books, Cooks, and Crooks. A group of celebrity chefs come to Inspiration Valley to conduct culinary demonstrations, promote their television shows, restaurants, and latest cookbook release, and to vie for the position as America’s favorite chef in the eyes of the adoring public.
All of these ingredients make for an explosion situation, and when a fire erupts in the demo kitchen, it will become clear to Lila and to readers, that food in cozy mysteries definitely has a darker side to it than the pleasant act of sampling a slice of Amazing Althea’s chocolate banana bread.
So brew a cup of tea, warm up a scone, and settle into your favorite chair. Make yourself comfortable. Because once you delve into Books, Cooks, and Crooks, you’re not going to want to move. You’re going to want to read and read until you discover how people who can create such beautiful, incredible food can be so shallow, ugly, and yes, deadly.
Books, Cooks, and Crooks (A Novel Idea Mystery - Book 3) by Lucy Arlington
Publication Date: 02/04/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Cozy Mystery
(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound
Lucy Arlington on the WEB: website, facebook, goodreads
Books in the series:
Buried in a Book (2012), Every Trick in the Book (2013), Books, Cooks and Crooks (2014)
Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.
Excerpt from, Books, Cooks and Crooks, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.
The national bestselling Novel Idea Mysteries are back, as Lila Wilkins—literary agent and sleuth—is setting up a delicious cookbook fair. But the tension in the kitchen is about to boil over…
Inspiration Valley, North Carolina, is bubbling with excitement for the Taste of the Town festival, and Lila is right in the middle of it all. Along with her coworkers at the Novel Idea Literary Agency, Lila is organizing a grand celebrity chef event, featuring food television's biggest stars, complete with cooking demonstrations, cookbook giveaways, and even a culinary writing contest.
But just as the celebration is about to start, the demo kitchen blows up, taking one of the star cooks with it. With all the explosive egos of the cook’s colleagues, it’s hard to find someone who didn’t have a motive to eliminate the competition. Now Lila will have to scramble to figure out which of her clients is a killer—before someone else gets burned.
Lucy Arlington brings readers the third book in her Novel Idea mystery series, Books, Cooks, and Crooks. The Taste of Town festival is in full swing in Inspiration Valley and murder is on the menu. Arlington's quick wit and savvy literary knowledge help make this series authentic and fun to read. Main character Lila Watkins is a literary agent with amateur sleuthing chops. Readers will fall in love with her quirky family and friends from this well written small town. A great addition to the series!
What I liked:
The theme of this series has been a favorite of mine since it's inception. Being a working writer myself I find it interesting to see this side of the publishing business. It is a lot different from the magazine side of things which is what I am familiar with. How books are showcased and promoted is a part of what I do everyday on my blog and that makes this series right up my alley. I think all of the interesting tidbits and information get the reader interested in publishing and getting the work of their author in the eye of the public.
Books, Cooks and Crooks is a great cozy for several reasons. A great theme always helps and one that Lucy Arlington choose for this book was exceptional. She has Lila Watkins in a real mess, when she decides to have all of her clients presenting together and promoting their work all in one place at the same time. The competitive edge is palpable from Arlington's descriptions. I loved every minute of it. From the descriptions of each writers cookbooks to the stories that start coming out after the murder occurs.
It was a great group of suspects who were interesting and very combative. The tension is overwhelming as the anger and bitterness and overall jealousy comes to light. A bunch of catty personalities, let me tell you. And all of them seemed to have a motive. It was hard to pick which one was the right one. I did not figure this one out at all. I thought I had it a couple of times but Arlington prevailed and kept me in the dark until the dramatic reveal. I was on the proverbial edge of my seat with this one and thought the author did an excellent job with the mystery aspects of this one.
Lila's family and friends and the other folks from Inspiration Valley were also well represented. Sean is always a favorite of mine and I like where Arlington is taking the relationship between he and Lila. Though this book was completely focused on the mystery, Arlington still devoted time to moving the series forward. I'm looking forward to where we go from here.
What I didn't like:
The first murder victim was certainly not who I expected. At first I had a hard time trying to figure out why it wasn't someone else. It was unexpected and I think that threw me for a little while. I wasn't too sure I was going to like where it was going, but as I got deeper into the book, I picked up on why this person was chosen and decided it wasn't such a big deal after all.
This is a top notch mystery with food, murder and mayhem. A great read for one of those cold winter nights we have been experiencing a lot of this year. You just want to curl up with a soft blanket, a cup of hot chocolate and dive right in to this great cozy. You'll enjoy it for sure!
Books, Cooks, and Crooks is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
About the Author:
Lucy Arlington, the national bestselling author of the Novel Idea mysteries, including Every Trick in the Book and Buried in a Book, is a pseudonym for the writing team of Ellery Adams and Sylvia May. Ellery Adams is also the author of the Books by the Bay mysteries, including Written in Stone, The Last Word, A Deadly Cliché, and A Killer Plot, and the bestselling Charmed Pie Shoppe mysteries, including Peach Pies and Alibis and Pies and Prejudice. Sylvia May is the author of The Unraveling of Abby Settel.
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