Cooking the Books: Masking for Trouble by Diane Vallere

So there’s this adorable Nevada town called Proper City that was founded by a prospector who wanted a clean, lawful city to live in out in the Wild West. His vision for the town suffered after his death and was further damaged when Prohibition introduced a, shall we say, criminal element to the populace. Time and good governance eventually erased that aspect of the city, though development followed in fits and starts, resulting in large parts of town being inspired in name and design by children’s stories.

This rich and complex history has resulted in a modern day Proper City that dresses up for everything. And we’re not talking about a black tie and tails—we’re talking about a city that loves a costume party for any and every occasion.

It’s a town like this that allows Margo Tamblyn’s family business, a costume shop named Disguise DeLimit, to thrive year-round. Margo has recently given up her career as a magician’s assistant in Las Vegas in order to help out after her father had a heart attack. He’s better enough now to finally fulfil his dream of travelling the country to source more innovative costumes for the store, and Margo is adapting to running the store full time.

Margo herself is a very interesting person. Having grown up motherless—save for the attentions of her father’s good friend Ebony Welles—she dressed mostly in costume-store outfits, a habit she’s never grown out of. Costumes became her uniform, allowing her to adopt whatever persona she needed to get through the day.

And she’s going to need all the help she can get when she’s accused of murder in the run up to her business and the town’s biggest day of the year: Halloween! Paul Haverford, a greedy property developer, is threatening to close down Disguise DeLimit along with a number of other small businesses that are refusing to toe his line. When Margo discovers his corpse at the contentious pre-Halloween party, she becomes prime suspect in his murder.

If that isn’t stressful enough, her secret relationship with Tak Hoshiyama is starting to go through the rough patch all secret relationships go through when other people start showing interest in attractive, purported singles. Margo tries to distract herself from her romantic woes with sleuthing in order to clear her name—a decision she may come to regret when the murderer decides that Margo should be the next victim.

This super cute cozy had some unexpected twists, making for a fun read. It also included three easy costume ideas and four really easy recipes, perfect for your next Halloween party (I know it might seem a little early to start planning, but anything that takes the mind off a sweltering DC summer is a good thing). For this week's column, though, I decided to try out this people pleaser, especially since I’ve never done anything like pigs in a blanket before:

Mummy Dogs


1 package hot dogs

1 tube of uncooked croissant dough (must be the kind that comes flat)


1.  Preheat oven to temperature marked on croissant dough package.

2.  Unroll one sheet of croissant dough and lay flat on cutting board.

3.  Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, slice croissant dough into ¼-½-inch strips.

4.  Wind strips of dough around each hot dog, starting at one end. Wrap loosely until hot dog is covered.

5.  Place wrapped hot dogs on a baking sheet and follow baking directions on croissant packaging.

6.  Remove and serve!

This recipe was very easy to execute! As always, I recommend the pizza cutter option for neatness and speed. I’d also recommend using the best quality hot dogs you can find. I used Midamar beef frankfurters, which were incredibly juicy, and I imagine you could use any kind of sausage that took your fancy.

My only criticism of this recipe is that, as finger foods go, the dogs are on the larger side. Smaller dogs might be a better option, which is something I’m going to try out for my next party. Admittedly, there’s a very good chance that I’ll just take a regular hot dog and cut it in half instead of looking for actual wieners. As you can see from my photos, it’s fairly easy to wrap the croissant dough over the ends to make the mummy dogs look uniform.

Next week, we travel to Lake Michigan to sleuth and bake delicious berry cookies! Do join me!

See also: Cooking the Books: The Hammett Hex by Victoria Abbott


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Doreen Sheridan is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C. She microblogs on Twitter @dvaleris.

Read all posts by Doreen Sheridan for Criminal Element.


  1. Teddy P

    I actually make these from time to time. They are tasty!

  2. Doreen Sheridan

    I’m actually putting hot dogs on this week’s shopping list so I can make these again! 😀

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