Leslie Budewitz is my guest today!
Just one warning her stories will make you HUNGRY!!!!
The Last Best Place to Die
The Last Best Place. That’s the newest slogan for my home state of Montana, also dubbed the Big Sky State for our magnificent views, and the Treasure State for our gems and minerals.
What a marvelous place to set a mystery—and not just because of its beauty. For me, Montana’s big draw as a setting lies in the surprising contrasts we locals often take for granted. As my protagonist Erin Murphy says in Death Al Dente, the first in the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries:
“Jewel Bay is not what people expect in a Montana town. Cutting-edge art and lip-smacking restaurants instead of cow pies and shoot-outs on dirt streets. But we have our belly-up bar, and plenty of cowboys, with farms and ranches nearby. And even a real live dude ranch, giving guests from around the world a taste of the old Montana and the new.”
All that makes Montana a great vacation escape—for a few days, a week or two, or all summer long. Winter, too, even if your idea of winter sports isn’t skiing or snowshoeing but curling up in front of a crackling fire with a double mug of hot cocoa.
Turns out Montana is also a pretty good place to escape the past. More than one Jewel Bay resident came here in search of a fresh start. A new job, maybe a new name. A new life in a place where people don’t ask questions.
But when murder intrudes on village life, questions pop up like morel mushrooms on the forest floor. And the sheriff’s deputies aren’t the only ones digging up dirt. Erin Murphy returned to her hometown to take over the Merc, her family’s struggling shop in the century-old sandstone building her great-grandfather built as the town’s first grocery. When people she loves are killed—or accused—she can’t help poking around. Her own past gives her ample reason to not trust the resident sheriff’s detective as much as she’d like to—but she’s working on that.
Ever the business owner, Erin uses her Spreadsheet of Suspicion to plot her questions and track the answers. And sometimes, those trusty cells and columns lead her places where others would rather she did not go.
In Crime Rib, second in the series, the TV show Food Preneurs comes to town to film the 35th Annual Jewel Bay Summer Art and Food Festival and the annual steak grill-off. Erin’s content to help from the sidelines, freeing her to focus on the Merc, and to scout the festival vendors for new products.
When the show’s producer is killed in a hit-and-run, Festival organizers beg her to step in and help out, to give Jewel Bay a shot at national publicity. How could a local girl say no? But when the host shows her a less than camera-ready side of himself, and a contestant is attacked and killed, Erin worries that the town’s reputation as a family-friendly, food-loving, vacation village will go up in flames. And when the sheriff runs out of leads, it’s up to her to smoke out the truth.
But just as in real life, some folks would do nearly anything to keep their secrets to themselves. To make sure the past stays behind, by making the Last Best Place Erin’s final resting place.
I hope you’ll make the trip with me, on the page, to see how Erin makes her own escape—and brings justice to her corner of the Big Sky.
About The Author
Leslie Budewitz is the national best-selling author of Death al Dente, first in the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries set in northwest Montana, and winner of the 2013 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Crime Rib, the second in the series, came out July 1, 2014, from Berkley Prime Crime. Her Seattle Spice Shop Mysteries will debut in March 2015.
Also a lawyer, Leslie won the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction for Books, Crooks & Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law & Courtroom Procedure (Quill Driver Books), making her the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction.
For more tales of life in the wilds of northwest Montana, and bonus recipes, visit her website and subscribe to her newsletter.
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(Food Lovers’ Village)
2nd in Series
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group (July 1, 2014)
Published by The Penguin Group
Cover Design by Ben Perini
Cover Design by Rita Frangie
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
E-Book File Size: File Size: 1974 KB
Gourmet food market owner Erin Murphy is determined to get Jewel Bay, Montana’s, scrumptious local fare some national attention. But her scheme for culinary celebrity goes up in flames when the town’s big break is interrupted by murder . . .
Food Preneurs, one of the hottest cooking shows on TV, has decided to feature Jewel Bay in an upcoming episode, and everyone in town is preparing for their close-ups, including the crew at the Glacier Mercantile, aka the Merc. Not only is Erin busy remodeling her courtyard into a relaxing dining area, she’s organizing a steak-cooking competition between three of Jewel Bay’s hottest chefs to be featured on the program.
But Erin’s plans get scorched when one of the contending cooks is found dead. With all the drama going on behind the scenes, it’s hard to figure out who didn’t have a motive to off the saucy contestant. Now, to keep the town’s reputation from crashing and burning on national television, Erin will have to grill some suspects to smoke out the killer . . .
INCLUDES DELICIOUS RECIPES!
Erin is one busy lady before adding murder to the mix but that doesn’t mean she is going to stay at the Merc and miss all the action. Having one of the hottest foodie programs, Food Preneurs, comes to town to cover the grill-off is an awesome opportunity for “The Food Lover’s Village”. Erin is not going to let one dead chef and a suspicious accident ruin a weekend of publicity for the town, but she is going to make sure it is the right kind of publicity. She is also going to track down the killer/s.
Budewitz has given us some fantastic characters to follow in this story. In addition to the murder mystery there is a little family disagreement about remodeling the courtyard and some secrets. Romance may be on the horizon for Erin with 2 eligible bachelors vying for her attention. One shopkeeper is a little cranky about all the foodie fuss. Of course there needs to be an obnoxious character and the TV Host for Food Preneurs fills that spot nicely.
She also gives a couple of interesting mysteries to solve. Plenty of viable suspects with motive, but who had the means and opportunity? I love the way Erin uses a spreadsheet to keep track of the clues.
Part of the pleasure of this series is the way the author describes all he food. She had my tummy growling several times. Thankfully she gives recipes because I definitely want S’more of the S’MORE SANDWICH COOKIES, and the CHOCOLATE MOUSSE CUPS and the GRILLED FLANK STEAK and everything else that was featured in the pages of this book.
This story has a well plotted mystery, a bit of comedy, yummy food and engaging characters. To me that is recipe for a marvelous cozy mystery.
Thanks to the people at Penguin I have 2 copies to give away!
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”