Cooking the Books with the Crime HQ Test Kitchen

This was the perfect chance to re-launch Cooking the Books with our new CrimeHQ test kitchen staff—or so we thought. We had a bunch of recent, appealing crime-related recipes, but unfortunately, after assigning them, the feedback from our test crooks cooks was a little less constructive than we'd hoped. You'll see what we mean…

After trying The Cozy Cookbook's “Charmed Bacon Lattice Breakfast Pie” by Ellery Adams, here are the testing notes from a Thriller's Disposable Henchman: 

The instructions say Bake until crisp, approximately 25 minutes. Couldn't the timing be more precise? Why, I have this handy ticking clock right next to me, and… [rest illegible and aflame]

From “Cake Pops” by Jenn McKinlay, testing notes from a Town Busybody: 

It should be called “cake popular,” because this recipe makes 30. Who has that many people to give sweets to? Don't get me wrong, I try to stay involved in goings-on in my community, but really, if I dropped dead, I think people would probably just stand around making snide comments and jokes. Here's my version of the recipe for a single cake pop. Tell the author to put it in her next book. You're welcome.


The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook, edited by Kate White

From The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook's “Worth-the-Effort-Turkey-Tetrazzini” by Hank Phillippi Ryan, testing notes from Distractingly Handsome Local Law Enforcement:

My apron says Kiss the Sheriff, but next week, I might be a detective, maybe Chief of Police. But there's one thing that's certain: even with corpses piling up, cruel injustices, and imminent danger everywhere, you will find yourself precoccupied with how damned attractive I am. Who could blame you? My twinkling eyes, the warmth of my smile… wait, what was I supposed to be cooking again?

From “Grandma's Killer Chocolate Cake” by James Patterson, testing notes from a French Prisoner:

As I did not possess the bitter chocolate required, I substituted grains of the darkest grave dirt watered with tears of contempt. During baking, the dessert proved incapable of rising above futility. I didn't care.


From Meet Your Baker by Ellie Alexander's “Raspberry Danish,” testing notes from a Violent Gang Member:

This Danish, made in round cake pans, reminds me of the way we always circle around our targets, each of us patiently taking turns attacking the lone hero in the center. Has anyone tried using blueberry jam in this recipe? Let us knowwe'll wait to bake it until you do! 

Yeah, after all that, we decided it might be best just to let you have the chance to try them out for yourselves. 


This Sweepstakes has ended. Thanks for entering!

Comment below for a chance to win The Cozy Cookbook, The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook, and the first two books in Ellie Alexander's Bakeshop series, Meet Your Baker and A Batter of Life and Death!

To enter, make sure you're a registered member of the site and simply leave a comment below.

TIP: Since only comments from registered users will be tabulated, if your user name appears in RED above your comment—STOP—go log in, then try commenting again. If your user name appears in BLACK above your comment, You’re ENTERED!

Test Kitchen Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry.  To enter, complete the “Post a Comment” entry at beginning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) May 21, 2015. Sweepstakes ends 9:59 a.m. ET May 28, 2015. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by lawPlease see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.


  1. Gordon Bingham

    Absolutely great collection!

  2. DebP

    Sounds like a lot of fun! I would really enjoy these books.

  3. Techgranny

    What a great group of books. If I win, I promise to try some recipes and give at least as good reviews.

  4. Tess Tipton

    Thank you all for sharing your recipes with us.
    this is an awesome prize that you are giving for this drawing.

  5. Debbie Price

    What a wonderful package to have as a giveaway! I really love when mysteries combine with the world of food. Thank you to all the authors who write these books.

  6. Barbi Conaway

    great group of books!

  7. Karen Reittinger

    What a great group of books!

  8. MaryC

    Thanks for the great giveaway!

  9. Karen Barnett

    Nice giveaway!

  10. Cindy Hipolito

    Am logged in on the Criminal Element site. These books sound like our household could benefit from the stories and concoctions. Thanks for this giveaway. It is Memorial Day in the early am (CST)!

  11. Faye Boss

    OH! just found this site with these great sounding reads!

  12. Carl Ginger

    This looks to be a nice collection of treats for the mind as well as the tummy if one uses the recipes.

  13. Patricia Hill

    Would love to own any of these books

  14. Sharon Kaminski

    I love cookbooks, would be great to win.

  15. Linda Knowles

    I love Cozy Mysteries!

  16. lynette thompson

    The books look great. Good luck everyone

  17. Janice

    I have always wanted to read the Cozy Mysteries. Would really like to win.

  18. Russell Moore

    Half of my education has come from mystery novels; cooking can join the list.

  19. Michelle St. James

    I’ve loved cozies since I started reading Agatha Christie when I was eleven years old, and I also love to cook, so as far as I’m concerned, this is the perfect prize. 🙂 Thanks so much for the chance.

  20. Nancy Luebke

    What fun, would love this. Thanks for the opportunity.

  21. beedyr

    I just love the titles of these books…so clever.

  22. Lynn Marler

    Hope I win; thanks for the chance!

  23. Irene Menge

    Marvelous prize! I so love cozies.

  24. peter gladue

    I think my Mom would like these books

  25. L L

    looks interesting

  26. Karen Mikusak

    Would love to win!

  27. Patricia Hilke

    very nice

  28. Kathy Heninger

    I would love to win this amazing collection.!!

  29. Ria Andrews

    Would love to win, thanks for this chance, I am learning to cook and have no cook books yet so I have to google everything.

  30. Barbara Miller

    Would love to win. They all sound great.

  31. daniel thornton

    The book sounds good.

  32. Brenda Tucker

    Sounds delicious, count me in.

  33. kathy pease

    Thanks so much for the chance 🙂

  34. alyce poalillo

    Perfect for me-I love mysteries and I love cooking.

  35. Denise Sachs

    This would be great, thanks.

  36. Shelton

    A Batter of Life and Death, what a title!!! Love it!!!!

  37. Marty Crosson

    I’m a dreadful cook; fortunately, I have no problems eating slop.

  38. Reeta Harrison

    I love a good read and a cookbook is as good as a novel for me so I would love to win this great prize!

  39. jodi scott

    Delicious prizes!!

  40. Shannon Baas

    I would like these as I collect cookbooks.


    Gotta have it!!

  42. Sherry Conrad

    Wonderful collection of books, thanks for the chance to win.

  43. Kelly Beck

    I need these!

  44. Penny A Snyder

    Love trying new recipes – these would be awesome books!!

  45. Joyce Mitchell

    I love mysteries, I love cookbooks – thanks for the chance to win.

  46. Susan Pertierra

    I’d love to try some of my favorite author’s recipes. Thanks!

  47. Margot Core

    How marvelous, these book were made for me! I have just the spot in the kitchen to keep them and semi-display them after consumption too.

  48. Jean Feingold

    The mystery of cooking – why not?

  49. Tammy Evans

    What a great giveaway! I would love to win.

  50. Aaron Shapiro

    Thanks for this chance!

  51. Maranda Hymes

    These are some adorable looking books!

  52. Dawn K

    looks good

  53. Mike Rogers

    They all sound delicious!

  54. Daniel Vice

    I would like this

  55. Deborah Wellenstein

    This looks like fun-thank you!

  56. JULES M.

    sounds awesome!!

  57. Sharon Haas

    Books and food are a winning combination!

  58. Anna Mills

    I am, as suggested, simply leaving a comment below. And you know what to do with it, People!

  59. Rebekah May

    Reading and cooking – two of my favorite hobbies.

  60. Deanna Stillings

    Sounds wonderful!

  61. Amanda Silverthorn

    I’d love to win this collection!

  62. leipet


  63. Robin Weatherington

    [u][b]Wonderful collection![/b][/u]

  64. teresa sopher

    cookbooks and mysteries…..what could go wrong?

  65. Robin Pasholk

    Those would go quite nicely with my other culinary staples: “The Dark Shadows Cookbook” (compiled by Jody Cameron Malis, Ace Books 1970), and “Cooking to Kill!: the Poison Cook-book” (concocted by Prof. Ebenezer Murgatroyd, Peter Pauper Press 1951). (insert sinister chuckle or fiendish grin here)

  66. Phyllis Sinclair

    Sounds like a thrilling, fun cookbook.

  67. Erin Hartshorn

    Awesome collection — and I love the comments on the recipes in this post.

  68. Jeffrey Tretin

    Thanks for the giveaway.

  69. Ed Nemmers

    What a great smorgasbord.

  70. Teresa Young

    Exactly how I feel in the kitchen much of the time! Throw in the towel & read a cozy mystery instead!!

  71. John Dozier

    looks like fun!

  72. Felina Pence

    Love the baking concept, I would like them more if, I could eat them, but as I am Celiac, I look for gluten free recipes.

  73. M Thompson

    Since I enjoy baking and reading mysteries, I would love to win this fabuolous prize! Thanks

  74. Tracy Lech

    Food and mysteries – a great combination! I actually still use my Nancy Drew Cookbook!

  75. Connie Sahn

    Nothing better than cookbooks and mysteries – great prize. Thanks for a chance to win!

  76. Jane Schwarz

    I think I bake just like your reviewers, but I’m willing and maybe able to take a stab at the recipes. Or I can just invite my daughter-in-laws over and let them work at it. Thanks for the opportunity to win.

  77. patricia gibby

    I love cook books

  78. Andra Dalton

    Sounds scrumptious!!! What a delightful collection of books to bundle together for a giveaway!!! Thanks for the opportunity to win & good luck to all who enter!!!:)

  79. Merle Carrus

    There is nothing better than a good mystery with recipes!! I love this genre. I look forward to reading all these books.

  80. Susan Robinette

    Cookbooks and mysteries = a winning combination!

  81. Arlyne Zarn

    Food and reading! Love it.

  82. Karen Terry

    I would love to win. I love to read about food and murder.

  83. Norma

    What a fun group of books! Thanks for the chance to win.

  84. Laurence Coven

    The Cozy category really needs a sub-category. “Cozies with Recipies”

  85. Michaela Strauch

    Thanks for the giveaway. Great books!

  86. Karl Stenger

    Would love to read these books.

  87. Lisa Pecora

    I would love these!

  88. susan beamon

    I have a seperate section of my library for, mostly mystery, books that have receipes in them. I started it with Nero Wolfe and continued it with the Diane Mott Davidson series. It now takes up several shelves.

  89. Brenda Elsner

    I would ove to have these!!!!

  90. Suzanne Rorhus

    The MWA cookbook looks beautiful!

  91. ravensfan

    All these books look interesting.

  92. MARY M

    This sounds interesting and I would like to have a copy of this book.

  93. MARY Mclain

    I would like to have a copy of this book because it sounds interesting .

  94. Desmond Warzel

    Count me in, please!

  95. Karen Willett

    Two of my favorite things…good food and good mysteries. Sounds perfect for my summer anyway!

  96. John OBrien

    There’s items for both of us – we’d have fun with these books.

  97. Beverly Henry

    Wow I would love to own these, thank you for the chance to win

  98. Cheryl Lehsten

    Would LOVE to win these books!

  99. Lori P

    I love the ‘punny’ titles of these cozy mysteries. Great fun to read, and probably even better with the Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. It’s not every day that we incorporate the senses of taste and smell into an engaging read.

  100. Jenne Turner

    Good luck to all who enter!

  101. Liz Stamp

    I love mysteries with recipes! And I’d love to win these books!

  102. Connie Saunders

    I would love reading these great titles and also trying the recipes. Thanks for the chance by offering this wonderful giveaway!

  103. jean olaughlin

    what a great contest!! I love recipes, cookbooks, and mysteries. This would be awesome to win!

  104. Michelle Klingen

    This is a great giveaway, never heard of these cookbooks!

  105. Chris Teel

    As the newly appointed chief cook and bottle-washer in my home, these would be great, thanks for the chance.

  106. Lynn Jarrett

    I look forward to winning and reading these books. I need something to take my mind off all of the rain we are receiving here in Oklahoma!!

  107. Hiking1957

    I love cook books and there have been a few cozy mysteries with recipes in them that I would love to make some time. Maybe some are in these.

  108. Theresa Sivelle

    Well, guess I have to do this again. I do love cook books. So I’m sure there are some good ones in these. Look forward to trying out some.

  109. Larry Doyle

    Food & a good book to read; what could be better?

  110. vvwoman

    Reading and cooking- two of my favorite things!

  111. Janice F

    Oh how I love mysteries, especially ones with great recipes.

  112. Susan Smith

    Sounds like great books.

  113. Karen de Gennaro

    I love mysteries with recipes included!

  114. Janice Ford

    Oh…how I love mysteries and great recipes.

  115. Daniel Morrell

    looks like some fun ones!

  116. Michael Carter

    Great sweeps!
    Yes, please enter me in this sweepstakes.
    Thanks —

  117. Linda Peters

    now this would be a fun collection, thanks


    I really want to win.

  119. Linda Kish

    I didn’t realize there would be comedy too. That makes it even better. I would love to add these books to my collection and try some of these recipes…not the one with dirt and tears.

  120. Sharon Shumway

    I love it when authors cook up a good mystery and I cook up their recipes.

  121. Sally

    What a fun contest. I will probably burn any recipe I try, because I will be reading one of the books while baking.


    I collect cookbooks and love food-related cozy mysteries, so this is a GREAT giveaway!

  123. Brenda Tucker

    Sounds mighty delicious – would love to win!

  124. Tim Moss

    Good deal, count me in!

  125. Dorothy Baumel

    I love mysteries with recipes, would love to have these books.

  126. Sara Lontcoski

    would love more cookbooks to add to my collection

  127. Kim Keithline

    sounds great sign me up

  128. Debra Kidle

    What a super prizepack! I love cookbooks, I collect them, and try to pick out a new recipe to try at least twice a month. I’d also love to be able to read the other books in the giveaway. Thanks for the chance! 🙂

  129. Heather Cowley

    These look right up my galley. har har!

  130. Kris Kaminski

    These just look Fun!

  131. Buddy Garrett

    This is awesome. Thanks.

  132. LLear

    These sound like a great set of books.

  133. Lily

    Thanks for the great giveaway!

  134. Diane Furst

    Great reviews!!!! I would love to read these books and try the recipes.

  135. Kelley Tackett

    These look amazing! I can’t wait to get my hands on all of them but especially the Mystery Writers of America Cookbook!

  136. Rosanne Morrison

    Keep trying to get back into cooking likethe old days

  137. mnleona

    Love to read the cozy mysteries. I also watch them on Hallmark.

  138. Aubrey Fletcher

    What a great collection of books! I would really enjoy these.

  139. Jim Belcher

    Good thing they are good authors. Not sure they make it as cooks or chefs. 🙂

  140. Mihaela Day

    What a great collection of books!

  141. Amy Curtiss

    Um, are any of the recipes for how to hide the taste of human flesh? I am thinking that the only way to truly dispose of a body would be to feed it to some unsuspecting foodies, a la the abusive husband in [u]Fried Green Tomatoes. [/u]
    “No, really, it’s roast pork with a raspberry reduction, Larry couldn’t make it, he’s…out of town!”

  142. Beth Talmage

    I’ve had “Meet Your Baker” on my list since your initial review. Winning a copy would be a great way to move it from my list to my carry-with-me-everywhere, which is how I tend to read a book. I learned that from my Aunt Betty, who reads between read lights, bless her heart.

  143. Karen Golding

    Great collection of books, thanks for the giveaway!

  144. Pam Flynn

    How fun and can I really have a great time trying recipes and reading some great authors. These books really get me smiling and excited!

  145. Lisa Garrett

    I absolutely love new recipes!

  146. Eugenia Hall

    What a great collection of books to win! I’d love to have them.

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