Writers frequently have what they call AH-HA! moments that are usually followed by a rush of what we hope will be great brainstorms that end up being awesome books.
That being said, it doesn’t always happen.
Many ideas that seem wonderful at 2 a.m. when they wake you, are lackluster in the cold light of morning (after coffee). The plot isn’t workable, or the characters that sounded good, aren’t. You might walk around in a fog all day trying to make the pieces fit.
Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don’t.
With our new Biscuit Bowl Food Truck Mysteries, it was one of those moments that worked out as well as we hoped it would. I say we because my wife and I write together. You don’t even want to know what kind of vetting process it takes for both of us to agree on an idea.
Our heroine, Zoe Chase, emerged full of insecurities and fear about her upcoming thirtieth birthday. Passed over for promotion one time too many at the bank where she worked, Zoe decided to do something about it.
I am happy to admit that the whole, deep-fried-biscuit-bowl idea was mine. No, I never made a biscuit in my life, though I enjoy eating them. My mother knew her way around a biscuit. Maybe she inspired me.
I was actually thinking about doughnuts when the idea came to me. Then I think I was possessed by Zoe, who was experimenting with her creation at the time. We didn’t even own a deep fryer, but I convinced my wife that we needed one.
Zoe is a much better cook that either of us. She spends all her time watching cooking shows, and looking for new ways to make delicious foods. Her cat, Crème Brulee, helps her. This was my wife’s idea—name the cat after food. It worked for me.
We have this one, unbreakable rule when we’re writing together. We never put anything into a story unless we agree on it. It may sound simple, but it’s not. We have been up at all hours trying to work around some problem one of us have with a character or plotline.
Zoe grabbed our hearts right away, and hasn’t let go. It has been a pleasure to get to know this brave young woman as we write about her. Going into business for yourself is hard work. Your family being dead set against you makes it harder. Luckily, there were some friends waiting in the wings for Zoe who could help with her problems.
Working together is always better. My wife and I live it everyday. Zoe, Ollie, Crème Brulee, Uncle Saul, and Delia do too—at least in the pages of the Biscuit Bowl food Truck Mysteries!
Death on Eat Street (Biscuit Bowl Food Truck Mystery - Book 1) by J.J. Cook
Publication Date: 04/01/2014
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
J.J. Cook on the WEB (aka. Joyce and Jim Lavene): website, twitter, facebook, goodreads
Zoe Chase always wanted to own her own restaurant—but first, she’ll have to serve up a heaping helping of meals on wheels, with a side of mystery…
When she’s once again passed over for a promotion at work, Zoe decides to take the big leap and go for her dream. She quits, gives up her fancy digs, and buys a fixer-upper diner in a shady part of town. To keep above water during the renovation, she buys a used food truck to serve the downtown and waterfront of Mobile, Alabama.
Zoe starts to dish out classic Southern food—but her specialty is her deep-fried biscuit bowls that blow traditional bread bowls away.
After a promising start, things start to go downhill faster than a food truck without brakes. First, someone tries to rob the cash register. Next, Zoe is threatened by the owner of a competing food truck for taking their spot. And when the owner ends up dead inside Zoe’s rolling restaurant, Zoe and her sole employee, Ollie, find themselves hopping out of the frying pan into the fryer. They need to find the real killer, before both of them get burned.
J.J. Cook aka. Jim and Joyce Lavene brings readers the first book in a new series featuring a food truck. Death on Eat Street is the first book in the Biscuit Bowl Food Truck Mystery series. Readers are treated to an eclectic cast of characters and a great new cozy heroine, in Zoe Chase. J.J. Cook shows readers how it's done by giving them a well thought out mystery that will have them on the edge of their seats, while setting up the new series and introducing all the characters. A great new book from a couple of trusted authors in the cozy genre.
What I liked:
J.J. Cook is a pseudonym for authors Jim and Joyce Lavene. The Lavenes are authors who cozy lovers have come to know well with several series' to their credit including one other under the J.J. Cook name. Some of my favorite cozies have come from their pens and I think the idea of this series is original and interesting. Food has become more and more popular of late with the advent of the Food Network and other cooking related shows. People who may never have heard of a food truck before have heard about them now and I thought the idea for this series was current and refreshing.
Zoe Chase the heroine of the series is a girl after my own heart. After years in a lack luster career as a banker, she throws caution to the wind and takes a chance on her dreams. She buys a run down restaurant and plans to use the proceeds from her food truck business to help with the renovations and get her up and going. I loved the fact that J.J. Cook gave this protagonist goals and ambition. Zoe knows what she wants and what it's going to take to get it. She wants to prove to her family and friends that she knows what shes doing. I liked her chutzpah and her ingenuity. A great new cozy protagonist.
But Zoe isn't the only new kid on the block. The cast of characters that J.J. Cook has created for this series range from Zoe's more affluent family to her partner in crime Ollie, who helps her run the truck. Sometimes in the first book in a series, the author spends more time on the set up than on the story itself. I thought Cook did a great job of balancing all the aspects of the story, while still introducing readers to some great characters they are sure to want to read about again. I even loved the kitty, with the cool name, Creme Brulee... very culinary!
The mystery itself, was full of surprises. When one of the other food truck owners ends up dead in the front seat of Zoe's truck after a very public argument with her, she becomes suspect number one. I found the mystery part of the book to be well written. There were plenty of suspects and when the motive becomes a little more clear, everything starts to fall into place. I thought the motive was interesting and very unique and the killer was not easy to pinpoint. Cook goes to great links to throw the reader off and in the end it pays off.
What I didn't like:
This was a very good first book in a series. I can't say that there was too much I didn't like, though I was perhaps not overly enthusiastic. I want to know more about the characters and thought the recipes sounded amazing, but it lacked a little zip. I think the pacing was off just a bit. Nothing too serious and still a good read.
Another good book from J.J. Cook. Cook introduces an interesting set of characters for this new series and a great culinary point of view. I look forward to reading more about Zoe and her friends and finding out what might happen with that very handsome defense attorney.
Death on Eat Street is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
About the Author:
J. J. Cook is a pseudonym for a married couple who writes mysteries, mostly set in the South, with a touch of paranormal and romance. They also write the Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mysteries under the same name. Also look for them writing as Joyce and Jim Lavene, and Ellie Grant. The couple lives and works in North Carolina with their two cats, a dog, and a large family.
The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Death on Eat Street by J.J. Cook.
~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, April 18th.
1. Please leave a comment your favorite dish involving biscuits.
2. Please fill out the FORM.