I made an unexpected trip to the library late last week, in the interest of helping my sister(she needed some books returned), and naturally, I couldn't resist having a bit of a browse while I was there. After all, I had returned a couple of books myself and probably won't be back until some time after Thanksgiving.
Nothing was catching my eye at first but then I decided to check out a certain display set up at the end of a section of shelves. This particular spot at my library has become a regular place for books connected by a mutual theme to be showcased and sure enough, a sign overhead announced "With a dash of mystery".
There was a combination of cookbooks and foodie mysteries arranged there, the latter whetting my literary appetite right away with the title Diners,Drive-ins and Death. It's the third book in Christine Wenger's Comfort Food Mystery series, set in the upstate New York town of Sandy Harbor.
Our culinary sleuth is Trixie Matkowski, who owns the Silver Bullet Diner, an old school fifties type of eatery and as the story begins, she's being consulted by her elaborately dressed best friend Antoinette Chloe Brown,aka ACB, about the land next to the diner being used to build an old fashioned drive-in movie theater.
Trixie is happy to support her friend in this enterprise, mainly to help ACB stop worrying about the disappearance of her new boyfriend Nick, who happens to be her former brother-in-law due to her ex-husband Sal being in prison for trying to kill her and Trixie. During the ground breaking for the drive-in however, Nick's body is discovered and not only is that messy can of worms reopened, the heat is on for ACB as a possible suspect in the case.
While this is the first time I've ever read this series(and in the middle of it, no less), Wenger does make it easy to catch up with the characters and their backstories, not to mention the quirky nature of the town itself. In addition to solving a murder, Trixie also has to help house contestants for the local Miss Salmon pageant,which has a special musical number being planned with a salute to spawning fish(this brings Miss Patty's School of Dance moments from Gilmore Girls gleefully back to life).
So far, I am enjoying this book and while Guy Fieri doesn't play a role here, I have a feeling that if he stopped by the Silver Bullet, his time would be well spent and he'd be well fed to boot:
Crime Rib by Leslie Budewitz is the second entree in this series where Erin Murphy has a gourmet food market called the Glacier Mercantile(also called The Merc) in the Montana town of Jewel Bay.
When a popular food TV show arrives to highlight Jewel Bay's culinary community, Erin arranges for a steak cook-off to be held at The Merc, featuring three of the best grill masters in town. Unfortunately, one of the contenders is iced before the competition and it's up to Erin to smoke out the killer before more than one fire is put out for good.
I love the whole notion of calling Erin's establishment "The Merc" because it reminds me of Food Network's Pioneer Woman,Ree Drummond, who runs a similar place in her Oklahoma small town. That homey feeling I always get from watching an episode of TPW should blend in nicely with such a savory mystery series like this:
I had to have book three in the series not just for the perfectly punny title but the movie theater cover art as well. Butter Off Dead has Erin trying to drum up some off season business for Jewel Bay by arranging a local film festival.
With the foodie film theme, she and local painter Christine are right on track but when Erin's partner in planning is found dead, more than one complication arises. The suspicious leading man in this murder is Nick, who happens to be Erin's brother and was Christine's boyfriend, quite the deadly double feature.
As she works to clear her sibling's name, Erin hopes that the film festival goes off without a hitch but by the time the first reel is being shown, she may have to worry about the end credits rolling on her own life story. Really love the film festival focus here and if the movies selected for this showcase are better than the ones shown in Stars Hollow(Gilmore Girls keep coming to mind, can't help it!), it should be a good night to remember:
As Erin is planning her own holiday wedding, a returning member of a prominent hometown family has a true silent night, deadly night encounter that needs solving. Merrily Thornton seemed to have changed her criminal ways but what appeared to be a fallback into her former embezzling habits may have been a frame job of the fatal kind.
I'll do my best to read one of the earlier books before this one, in order to get a feel for Erin Murphy's food lover life and times, but I'm sure that this will be a real sinister sweet treat to nibble page by page here:
The Christmas Spirit readathon starts on November 19 and runs until December 2, so check in with Seasons of Reading if you want to join in. As for me, I am pleased to have gathered up a nice pile of foodie mysteries to make this Thanksgiving a feast for mind and body alike.
I do feel a tad guilty for liking this genre so much lately but then again, why should I? Such harmless fun is hard to find in times as troubling as these and the authors who labor over these seemingly light hearted mysteries are truly talented with a good knack for developing strong flavorful characters, something that any reader truly loves in any category.
So, instead of such needless remorse, I intend to be thankful for having such wonderful books to read and recommend. Books do provide true comfort and inspiration just when we need them the most with the additional blessing of having a local library around to assist us in finding that perfect tasty read that really hits the spot: