I am so excited to Welcome Leslie her today for a visit!
The latest Food Lover’s Village Mystery, Butter Off Dead, came out on Tuesday and I gobbled it right up!
By Leslie Budewitz
Days before my first mystery, DEATH AL DENTE, came out, I walked into my favorite local art gallery to chat about the details for my book launch party. (I cannot believe that was nearly two years ago!) Christine, the co-owner, started bouncing up and down, the long red hair piled on top of her head waving precariously. “Will you kill me? Will you kill me?” Her business partner—and former husband—stood behind her and mouthed “I have ideas.” (In truth, they’re very good friends, and have one of the best divorces I know.)
I agreed, of course. How often does a victim simply volunteer? And she’s such a character—as you can tell—that I knew she’d be a lot of fun on the page.
The second book in the series, CRIME RIB, was in progress and already had a victim. I slipped Christine in as a minor character so I could flesh her out in the third book,
BUTTER OFF DEAD, just out from Berkley Prime Crime.
I borrowed a handful of details from the real woman. Both live and fictional Christine are red-headed painters who work in bright acrylics, were raised in Vermont, and wear glasses of many colors. Everything else, I made up. I felt no restrictions on what I could do, helped by knowing that both she and her former husband are great readers who came up with the idea to hold my launch parties in their gallery. (The real town, alas, is bereft of a bookstore, a lack I remedied on the page.)
The real Christine’s effusive, quirky personality gave me free rein to weave her in and out of the fabric of Jewel Bay, Montana, a fictional lakeside resort community on the road to Glacier National Park clearly influenced by our own vibrant village. Although she dies early in the book, Christine remains very much a part of the story, as Erin Murphy, my main character, attempts to unravel the mystery and free her brother Nick from suspicion.
The woman on the page repeatedly surprised me. She drinks beer. She plays pool. She has a cat. She lives and paints in an old church—something I’ve always wanted to do. (Creating characters can be a blissful bit of wish fulfillment.) She has a painful past, and more than a few secrets.
It was great fun to use a real person as a starting point for play. Might it have been more difficult had I known her better? I don’t think so. Another character, the beloved elderly artist Iggy, was inspired by my late mother-in-law, and it gave me great pleasure to think of her back among us. Three characters in BUTTER draw their names from local folk who bought naming rights at charity auctions; while one appears as herself, a local couple lent their name to a burly young bartender, and a supporter of a women’s shelter became a teenage boy again. (Whether that’s wish fulfillment or a nightmare, I don’t know!)
My only regret is that the real-life Christine moved back to Vermont last year and couldn’t be here to share the fun of celebrating BUTTER OFF DEAD. That only proves that made-up people are like the real thing in yet another way: on and off the page, characters are full of surprises.
About The Author
Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. She lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher.
Butter Off Dead
(Food Lovers’ Village Mystery)
3rd in Series
Setting – Montana
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group (July 7, 2015)
Published by The Penguin Group
Cover Illustration by Ben Perini
Cover Design by Rita Frangie
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
E-Book ASIN: B00Q5DLWYY
As the national bestselling Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries continue, the merchants of Jewel Bay, Montana, try to heat up chilly winter business with a new film festival. But their plans are sent reeling when a dangerous killer dims the lights on a local vendor…
In an attempt to woo tourists to Jewel Bay and cheer up the townies, Erin Murphy, manager of the specialty local foods market known as the Merc, is organizing the First Annual Food Lovers’ Film Festival, filled with classic foodie flicks and local twists on favorite movie treats. But when her partner in planning, painter Christine Vandeberg, is found dead only days before the curtain rises, Erin suspects someone is attempting to stop the films from rolling.
To make matters worse, Nick—Erin’s brother and Christine’s beau—has top billing on the suspect list. Convinced her brother is innocent and determined that the show must go on, Erin has to find who’s really to blame before Nick gets arrested or the festival gets shut down. But the closer she gets to the killer, the more likely it becomes that she’ll be the next person cut from the program…
INCLUDES DELICIOUS RECIPES!
In this third installment Jewel Bay is hosting another event. This time a Food Lovers’ Film Festival, showing movies like Chocolat and Ratatouille. Sounds like a lot of fun until one of the organizers ends up dead.
The author knows the key to a great mystery series is having characters that continue to grown and evolve and story-lines that put them in precarious situations. She dishes up perfection in Butter Off Dead. Erin’s brother, Nick is hiding something and it is making him look mighty guilty. Erin has to prove his innocence and find out who the heck he is protecting and that puts her right in the killer’s sights. We also meet some high school students who have volunteered to help with festival. They are also hiding something.
This story is so well written. It kept me captivated from the first page until the very last. It was filled with many clever twists that left me guessing whodunit until the final reveal. Erin ran her butt off in this story while running the Merc, running the festival, and keeping community and family members in check, all while trying to figure out who killed her friend. She was always off doing something making the story pretty fast paced.
I know some of the residents of Jewel Bay are not pleased with all the festivals and events but I can’t wait to return to this food loving town for the next one. I also look forward to shopping again soon at the Merc and trying more of those tasty recipes.
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.”