Writing with My Mouth Open
Cozy mysteries rely on food and cuisine in ways that few other popular literary genres do. Home cooking, restaurant fare, and food as a deadly weapon have all been common themes in beloved cozies.
My King Harald canine cozies are no exception. The protagonist, Andy Skyberg, is a former limo driver who leaves the pressure-cooker of big-city life to move back to his hometown and work in his sister’s restaurant. I’ve had great fun concocting the menu for Ansel’s Café and describing all sorts of delectable dishes that are commonplace in the quaint little town of New Bergen, somewhere up the Interstate in a place very much like Minnesota.
Over the course of my writing career, which has ranged from journalism to book reviewing to tech writing, I’ve written about food in various nonfiction pieces. But food never played a more important role as subject matter than during my years as a travel writer. Whenever I went on a “fam” trip (a “familiarization” trip), I knew that there would be a whole lot of eating going on. Local restaurants and food traditions were always an important element in my travel stories. And of course I could count on gaining a few pounds whenever I spent a few days on the road. (Oh, the sacrifices one must make for journalism!)
When I think back on all those trips, I have vague recollections of the museums I visited and the recreational sites I toured. But after all these years, the food memories still stand out most vividly.
There was that wonderful fry bread in a small town on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. My first taste of Calvados (apple brandy) one special night on a trip to see the landing beaches in Normandy. The incredible parade of chocolate and candy confections left in my hotel room every night in Cleveland, each one more elaborate than the next. A wonderful butternut squash and apple soup that I sampled after a long day of hiking near Moab, Utah. Liver dumpling soup served at Little Bohemia in Wisconsin (famous for its John Dillinger connections). Divine key lime pie at a rickety joint on Big Pine Key. Potica (Slovenian nut roll) and pasties on Minnesota’s Iron Range. Crawfish fettuccini at an outdoor feast near Clinton, Louisiana, right where Audubon had a studio.
I didn’t always go looking for great food—sometimes it found me. When our rental car had a flat tire after our visit to Mount Vernon, my wife and I had dinner in a small restaurant near the garage where the tire was being patched. It was the first time either of us had ever tasted Brunswick stew—love at first bite! We found a recipe for it as soon as we got back home. Now it’s a staple on our list of stews and soups that we make in the cold months.
Perhaps the most memorable meal in all my years of eating on the road took place on a beach out in Palau, in the Pacific Ocean near the Philipines. Our group was promised an opulent luncheon caught out on the reef that morning. As we watched the parrotfish and unicorn fish grilling, the local PR guy reached into his string bag and pulled out a can of Spam. He extracted the meaty, greasy treat and threw it on the grill with our colorful lunch. “I get tired of fish all the time,” he explained, not the least bit embarrassed. “But I love Spam.” As I recall, he ate the whole can of it while we enjoyed our tropical feast.
For me, food is inextricably tied to travel memories. I hope readers of my King Harald mysteries will have a similar experience as they escape into my books. Maybe they won’t remember the book’s name or even the author’s name, but they’ll think, oh yes, that was the story involving the very special ebelskiver recipe—I remember it well.
—Richard Audry/D. R. Martin
About The Author
Richard Audry is the pen name of writer/photographer D. R. Martin. He has written professionally in many fields—including journalism, copywriting, medical writing, travel writing, and script writing. The Karma of King Harald is his first cozy mystery. The second book in the series, King Harald’s Heist, is now available. He is the author of the middle-grade fantasy adventures Johnny Graphic and the Etheric Bomb and Johnny Graphic and the Attack of the Zombies. He also writes the Mary MacDougall historical mystery/romances—A Pretty Little Plot and The Stolen Star. The third Mary MacDougall mystery, The Widower’s Wrath, will be published later in 2015 or early 2016.
Find out more about Richard and his books on his webpage here.
King Harald’s Heist
(King Harald Mysteries Book 2)
Setting – Fictional Minnesota
Publisher: Conger Road Press (May 3, 2015)
Paperback: 306 pages
E-Book ASIN: B00X002DBG
Join King Harald and Andy Skyberg on their second adventure!
As the leaves begin to change color in New Bergen, Andy Skyberg wants to turn his full attention to his sister’s new café and art gallery—and to the beautiful Finnish architect who’s managing the project.
But the good-natured, go-to guy can’t seem to catch a moment’s peace.
His next-door neighbors—two elderly sisters—want him to fend off a pushy historian who thinks they had a scandalous past. His parents enlist him to entertain a narcissistic, boring couple they would like to ditch. And his ever-scheming Aunt Bev tricks Andy into seeking an improbable new gig that could land him in the hot seat.
Even Andy’s big ol’ mutt King Harald has a kennel full of trouble in store for him, beginning with a pilfered thousand-dollar bill and a naughty garden gnome. Before long, New Bergen’s favorite crime-sniffing pooch finds even more deep doo-doo to toss his boss into.
Havoc and hilarity ensue, as Andy and his happy hound get to the bottom of King Harald’s Heist.
We get to know Andy so much better in this installment, I said in my previous review that he needed to bloom and bloom he did. He is taking a very active role in his sister’s new venture and his aunt Bev has a plan that should take up the remainder of his free time. His romantic life takes a very eventful turn too. Sometimes he doesn’t need Harald’s help to get into sticky situations.
King Harald continues to steal the show and out hearts. He gets into a bit of trouble and helps Andy learn some secrets about the dear ladies next door.
And as in the last book there is so much more….
This is an outstanding follow up to The Karma of King Harald. It is an easy read with fantastic dialogue and a top-notch whodunit. The characters are fun and engaging. I so love Harald. There is plenty of mystery, mayhem, and humor and Andy and Harald are in the middle of it. This was one of those books that once I picked it up I couldn’t put it down. Now I want more. I can’t wait for Harald and Andy’s next adventure.
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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.”