Read an Excerpt of <i>Echoes In Death</i> by J.D. Robb! Read an Excerpt of Echoes In Death by J.D. Robb! Crime HQ The 44th In Death novel. <i>Above the Paw</i>: New Excerpt Above the Paw: New Excerpt Diane Kelly The 5th book in the Paw Enforcement series. <i>Onslaught</i>: New Excerpt Onslaught: New Excerpt David Poyer The 16th book in the Dan Lenson series. <i>Trigger Yappy</i>: New Excerpt Trigger Yappy: New Excerpt Diana Orgain The 2nd book in the Roundup Crew series.
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Showing posts by: Doreen Sheridan click to see Doreen Sheridan's profile
Nov 30 2016 5:00pm

Cooking the Books: Brownies and Broomsticks by Bailey Cates

Several weeks ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing the latest in Bailey Cates’s Magical Bakery Mystery series, Spells and Scones. Today, I’m going to start reading and cooking my way from the beginning of this delightful series to see if there’s more magic to be had from where that 6th book came.

For those unfamiliar with this particular series, Brownies and Broomsticks tells the story of how our heroine, professional baker Katie Lightfoot, moves from Ohio—after her fiancé calls off their wedding—to Savannah, Georgia to help her newly retired aunt and uncle run the bakery they’ve always wanted to own. Soon after arriving in Savannah, Katie’s Aunt Lucy starts to broach the delicate subject of why Katie has always felt “different” all her life: she comes from a long line of witches and possesses mystical powers herself!

[Recipe and pictures included below!]

Nov 23 2016 4:30pm

Cooking Through The Nature of the Feast: A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the last book in the Inspector Gamache series to date. It is the very satisfying culmination of several important series plot points, including the very puzzling question of why Three Pines—the peaceful, if occasionally murder-prone, village that provides safe harbor throughout most of the books—cannot be found on any maps.

After several of the Three Pines residents find a charming antique map that, surprisingly, depicts the area, it is presented as a gift to Armand Gamache, formerly a Chief Inspector of the Surêté du Québec. The occasion is the first day of his new job as Head of the Surêté Academy, the institution that trains all new members of Quebec’s provincial police force.

[Recipe and pictures included below!]

Nov 16 2016 4:30pm

Cooking Through The Nature of the Feast: The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny

Those of you who have been following this column will know that I was not particularly happy with the ending of the previous book in the series. I was very much looking to this one to assuage my fears as to whether Louise Penny was an author I could implicitly trust with the difficult, moral narrative choices. It was a great relief to find that my fears, while valid, had come to naught here, as The Nature of the Beast is another terrific installment of the award-winning Inspector Armand Gamache series.

It was also the first novel of the series where I genuinely had no idea who might have been the killer, right up to the thrilling conclusion. The amount of misdirection was superb, but I suppose that’s to be expected in a tale that encompasses clandestine operatives and their shady dealings stretching back decades.

[Recipes and pictures included below!]

Nov 9 2016 4:30pm

Cooking Through The Nature of the Feast: The Long Way Home by Louise Penny

I think this is the first time that I have vehemently disagreed with the direction an Inspector Gamache novel took. I mean, even in my disbelief at the ending of The Brutal Telling, I felt confident in Louise Penny’s storytelling skills that it would all eventually make sense (and it did in the novel that followed). But I felt oddly shortchanged by the ending of The Long Way Home, and I know there’s no coming back from this one.

Which isn’t to say that this is a bad book at all! On the contrary, I spent the first parts in a happy literary haze at the outright confirmation that Ms. Penny admires Marilynne Robinson, one of my all-time favorite authors, with whom she shares a similar outlook regarding humanity and empathy.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Nov 2 2016 3:30pm

Cooking Through The Nature of the Feast: How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny

This was the first book I ever read in the Inspector Gamache series—back when it first came out—and, boy, was that a mistake! I only realized this upon reading the preceding eight novels, then re-reading this one. I missed so much by starting here first!

Back when How the Light Gets In first came out, I wanted to see what all the fuss over Louise Penny was about, so I read it and thought it was good, solid storytelling. But now that I’ve caught up with the entire series, I can see that this novel is a work of brilliance—a terrific capstone for all the events that led up to it. Sure there are still threads unresolved, material for future books, but so much of the loving detail that Ms. Penny has woven into the first eight parts of the series come together here to form a story that rewards her loyal readers again and again with callbacks that both delight and resonate with deeper meaning. I really did myself a disservice by starting here instead of at the beginning.

[Recipes and pictures included!]

Oct 26 2016 4:00pm

Cooking Through The Nature of the Feast: The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny

The bad news is that we hear virtually nothing of the village of Three Pines and its inhabitants in this 8th installment of Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series. The good news is that Ms. Penny has instead decided to tackle one of the greatest mysteries in music history!

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his second-in-command, Inspector Jean-Guy Beauvoir, are sent to investigate a murder set in a remote monastery that houses a reclusive order of monks who have been made, rather ironically, world-famous by their exquisite Gregorian chants. This is tricky work: writing a novel that succeeds at integrating church scholarship with a murder mystery (and compelling personal drama, but more on that in a moment). Umberto Eco tried it in The Name Of the Rose. Let it be an example of my standards when I say that I didn’t feel he quite succeeded.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Oct 19 2016 3:30pm

Cooking Through The Nature of the Feast: A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny

I was an information technology major in college, and in one exam, we were asked to write a program involving the colors black and white. Having an artistic bent, I named it Chiaroscuro, to the bemusement of my lecturer (and several of my classmates, who reacted in much the same way Inspector Beauvoir does to the word in this novel while at an art show).

Which, I’m hoping, goes some way to explain how much I enjoy the many references to the visual arts in Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache novels—and especially in this, the 7th book in the series. Clara Morrow, Ms. Penny’s admitted fictional stand-in, is finally getting a solo show that looks set to launch her reputation and career. A party post-vernissage in Three Pines seems like the perfect way to celebrate … till a body is discovered in Clara’s garden.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Oct 12 2016 3:30pm

Cooking Through The Nature of the Feast: Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

One of my favorite things in life is saying “I told you so,”  so if you read my review of The Brutal Telling, you’ll understand why my satisfaction with Bury Your Dead goes beyond an appreciation of the elegant storytelling and excellent plot. It’s so very nice, six books into Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series, to feel such trust in an author (and, well, I get to say I told you so, teehee.)

That said, Bury Your Dead opens on tragic circumstances. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is taking time off from the Surêté after tragedy rips through the force, damaging many, including members of his loyal team. In Quebec City, to recover at the home of his retired mentor Emile Comeau, his days are spent quietly reading in the Literary and Historical Society—the little publicized bulwark of Anglo culture in the capital of French-Canada. But then, a body is found in the basement, and despite his initial reluctance, Inspector Gamache finds himself drawn to assist in the investigation.

In the meantime, his right hand man, Inspector Jean Guy Beauvoir, is stifling under his wife’s ministrations as he struggles to recover from the tragedy in his own home. When Inspector Gamache finds himself re-evaluating the conclusions he and his team came to in The Brutal Telling, Jean Guy is only too happy to be dispatched to Three Pines to look at the case with fresh eyes.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Oct 5 2016 4:30pm

Cooking Through The Nature of the Feast: The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny


Wait, what, really?

Is this how I know I’ve become a resident of Three Pines, at least in spirit, by my reaction to the ending of The Brutal Telling—the 5th book in Louise Penny’s best-selling Inspector Gamache series—being one of the same bewilderment and grief that grips the village in which most of the books have been so lovingly set? I can’t really say more without giving away the plot entirely, but here’s what I can safely say: the corpse of an unidentified man is found in Olivier’s Bistro, uncovering stories of greed and secrets that stretch back decades and span the globe from the glittering, vanished Amber Room of Prussia to the lonely mists of Ninstints in British Columbia.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Sep 28 2016 3:30pm

Cooking Through The Nature of the Feast: A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny

I love manor mystery novels—you know the kind—where a group of guests stays at a secluded manor and one of them is murdered. That’s the concept behind Louise Penny’s excellent fourth installment of the Inspector Gamache series, A Rule Against Murder.

Inspector Armand Gamache is at the historic Manoir Bellechasse for his wedding anniversary with the delightful Reine-Marie, and the only other guests are three generations of a family of Quebec Anglos resplendent in their old money, pride, and simmering resentments. Imagine his and Reine-Marie’s surprise when two beloved faces from nearby Three Pines appear as part of this brood and their horror when one of the family is bizarrely murdered. Reine-Marie is sequestered away in Three Pines while Inspector Gamache must unearth painful family secrets—of the victim’s and, compellingly, of his own—in his quest to bring a murderer to justice.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Sep 21 2016 3:30pm

Cooking Through The Nature of the Feast: The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny

Easter has come to Three Pines! In this time of resurrection and renewal, one of the owners of the local B&B has decided to advertise the services of an unwitting guest as a spiritualist. Jeanne Chauvet thought she was there for a holiday, so she is rather bemused to find herself leading a Friday night séance for our beloved Three Pines residents.

When it’s decided that the affair lacks the proper level of spookiness, the abandoned Hadley house—which regular readers will know as a place of grief and danger—is proposed as a more suitable venue. It all seems like creepy, innocent fun…until one of the guests at the séance drops dead from terror.

Miles away, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec is enjoying a visit from his son, Daniel, and Daniel’s family, recently relocated to Paris for work. When he reads of the death in the papers, he isn’t surprised to receive the summons from his superior and best friend, Michel Brebeuf, to investigate whether a murder has been committed.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Sep 14 2016 3:30pm

Cooking Through The Nature of the Feast: A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny

It’s been over a year since murder threw its long shadow over the village of Three Pines. The inhabitants have mostly recovered from the death of Jane Neal, and the empty Hadley house—site of so much pain and violence—has been sold to budding lifestyle authority, CC de Poitiers.

Alas, CC is not an ornament to her new home. Overbearing and obnoxious, her insistence on knowing what’s best for everyone has completely cowed her husband and daughter and set most of the villagers against her. So, when she’s murdered just after Christmas, in an elaborate setup during the annual curling match, she doesn’t leave behind a whole lot of mourners.

It’s under these circumstances that Chief Inspector Gamache of the Surêté du Québec is called back to the village he has such fond memories of, even as he’s unofficially investigating the death of a homeless woman in Montreal as a favor to his counterpart there. When it becomes clear that the two cases are connected, Inspector Gamache will have to uncover secrets that Three Pines thought long buried.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Sep 7 2016 3:30pm

Cooking Through The Nature of the Feast: Still Life by Louise Penny

I have a confession to make: The first Louise Penny book I read was How the Light Gets In, and it was terrific (and I had the privilege of reviewing it for this site). But, I must also admit that my admiration felt distant. I didn’t already know the people in the book, and so I didn’t feel a lot of the personal nuances—the delight, the anguish—that come from diving back into a beautifully realized world and taking up with vivid, beloved characters once more.

For one reason or another, I never had the chance to go back and start the series properly, from the beginning. But then Macmillan published The Nature of the Feast, the companion cookbook to the Inspector Gamache series, and my editor suggested I do a run of Cooking The Books columns for it. No need to ask me twice!

[Recipe and pictures included below!]

Aug 31 2016 3:30pm

Cooking the Books: Knit to Be Tied by Maggie Sefton

The 14th book in Maggie Sefton’s Knitting Mystery series picks up over a year after the last novel, Purl Up and Die, left off. Our heroine, Kelly Flynn, is still a regular at the House of Lambspun, the knitting and fiber arts shop based on a real Colorado store. But, changes are afoot for her and her social circle, with family additions and changes of residence having already altered some of the social dynamics (though fans will rest assured that none of these are for the worse). 

The group is looking forward to the impending wedding of two of their members, when they meet Nancy Marsted, a pregnant graduate student who wants to learn how to knit for her unborn baby. Unfortunately for Nancy, all her dreams of familial happiness are shattered when her boyfriend does an abrupt one-eighty, publicly dumping Nancy and claiming that her baby isn’t his. Shattered, Nancy turns to her recovering alcoholic father and to the Lambspun knitters for support.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Aug 24 2016 3:30pm

Cooking the Books: Purl Up and Die by Maggie Sefton

It’s been quite a while since I last had the chance to hang out with the Lambspun fabric artists who form the nexus of Maggie Sefton’s bestselling Knitting Mystery series, so I had a lot of catching up to do! Fortunately, Purl Up And Die treats fans, as well as more casual readers, to an in-depth look at their lives, even as they are affected by another shocking murder. 

Kelly Flynn is our sleuthing heroine, a CPA and amateur knitter whose own limited skills with the needles make her very relatable to novice knitters. She spends a lot of time at the House Of Lambspun—the fabric, fiber, and yarn shop just across the driveway from her home—with its attached Pete’s Porch Cafe. Kelly loves textures, and the book is full of sensual descriptions of the various wares available at Lambspun (which is based on a real Colorado knitting store). Kelly also loves her coffee, as well as playing and coaching softball with the various Fort Connor leagues that form a big part of the summertime social schedules of herself and her close-knit (sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun) circle of friends.

[Recipe and pictures below!]

Aug 17 2016 3:30pm

Cooking the Books: The Calamity Café by Gayle Leeson

This promising first novel in the Down South Café Mystery series introduces us to Amy Flowers—a smart, thoughtful waitress in the small town of Winter Garden, Virginia. After graduating from culinary school, Amy moves back to her hometown in order to be close to the aging members of her family.

She has ambitions to buy the greasy spoon she presently works in from its mean owner, Lou Lou, with plans to open a café that serves delicious Southern food alongside healthy, but equally tasty, alternatives. Unfortunately, the day after they serve each other notice, Lou Lou is found murdered in her office and Amy becomes the prime suspect. Determined to clear her name, Amy teams up with a handsome police deputy to sift through Lou Lou’s long list of ill-wishers to find the real killer.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Aug 10 2016 3:30pm

Cooking the Books: Read To Death by Terrie Farley Moran

Fans of this bookstore mystery series will love plunging back into the world of the Read ‘Em and Eat bookstore café! Co-owners and best friends Sassy Cabot and Bridgey Mayfield have organized a field trip for the last book club of the snowbird season, when their seasonal guests who’ve been escaping the colder climes up north for the Florida sunshine are getting ready to pack up and head home.

As their last read was The Florida Life of Thomas Edison, the book club takes a day trip to the nearby Edison and Ford Winter Estates, catered by the café, of course. The pleasant excursion takes a shocking twist when, shortly after returning to the Read ‘Em and Eat, the local driver they’d hired for the day is found murdered in the parking lot.

[Recipe and pictures below!]

Aug 3 2016 3:30pm

Cooking the Books: Spells and Scones by Bailey Cates

When I first heard the concept of this series—a modern-day witch solves cozy mysteries while serving up delightful recipes—I was extremely skeptical. I’m hardly a genre snob, but this seemed a bit kitchen sink to me. Imagine my delight when I read the book and found it to be satisfying on all fronts, but most importantly, as an entertaining read.

Spells and Scones is the sixth novel in the Magical Bakery Mystery series, and while not the ideal jumping-on point, still an accessible place to start. Our heroine, Katie Lightfoot, is catering a signing at the bookstore next door to her Honeybee Bakery. The featured author is a controversial radio show host whose advice on relationship issues has almost as many detractors as adherents. When the author is found dead at the back of the store, Katie is inclined to stay out of it. But, the prime suspect turns out to be the former witch of Katie’s familiar, Mungo, and the little terrier insists on Katie using her powers—both mystical and mundane—to clear his former witch’s name.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Jul 27 2016 3:30pm

Cooking the Books: Death at the Day Lily Cafe by Wendy Sand Eckel

What a delightfully thoughtful cozy mystery! 

Our heroine, Rosalie Hart, has just achieved her lifelong dream of opening an organic, locally sourced cafe that uses produce grown on her nearby farm, Barclay Meadow. Staffed by herself, her best friend Glenn, herbal remedy enthusiast Crystal, and bad-boy cook Custer, the Day Lily Cafe is getting itself up and running, when a desperate neighbor begs for Rosalie’s help. Doris Bird’s brother-in-law was murdered with a shotgun, and the town sheriff is only too happy to clap Doris’s sister in jail for it. Even though she’s incredibly busy with the cafe, Rosalie can’t say no to her friend.

A look into the life of Doris’s sister unearths shocking revelations, even as Rosalie’s own family life becomes more complicated, with her daughter getting involved with Custer and her ex-husband making his own accusations regarding her parenting. A new farm employee also causes friction, as Rosalie begins to doubt the bond she has with her business partner, the very attractive Tyler. All this has Rosalie contemplating her own past relationships, especially with her father.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Jul 20 2016 3:30pm

Cooking the Books: Aunty Lee’s Chilled Revenge by Ovidia Yu

The 3rd novel in Ovidia Yu’s Singaporean mystery series finds Aunty Lee laid up with a sprained ankle and, therefore, grumpy at the curtailment of her ability to lovingly interfere in the lives of others. To make matters worse, her overbearing stepdaughter-in-law has decided to “help” Aunty Lee run her cafe while she’s healing, which is spreading the grumpiness to Aunty Lee’s actual helper, Nina. Then, Cherril, Aunty Lee’s business partner, decides that the cafe needs to expand its horizons, talking of mechanization and globalization, much to Aunty Lee’s discomfort. 

All Auntie Lee wants to do is cook good food that will nourish people’s bodies and, hopefully, souls, and she doesn’t believe a machine will be able to properly adjust for tastes the way she can.

[Recipes and pictures below!]