Date Published: May 12, 2020
Recent MBA grad Bronwyn Crewse has just taken over her family’s ice cream shop in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and she’s going back to basics. Win is renovating Crewse Creamery to restore its former glory, and filling the menu with delicious, homemade ice cream flavors—many from her grandmother’s original recipes. But unexpected construction delays mean she misses the summer season, and the shop has a literal cold opening: the day she opens her doors an early first snow descends on the village and keeps the customers away.
To make matters worse, that evening, Win finds a body in the snow, and it turns out the dead man was a grifter with an old feud with the Crewse family. Soon, Win’s father is implicated in his death. It’s not easy to juggle a new-to-her business while solving a crime, but Win is determined to do it. With the help of her quirky best friends and her tight-knit family, she’ll catch the ice cold killer before she has a meltdown…
Abby L. Vandiver, also writing as Abby Collette, is a hybrid author who has penned more than twenty-five books and short stories. She has hit both the Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller list. Her latest cozy series, An Ice Cream Parlor Mystery, published by Penguin Berkley, is out now, with the second book, A Game of Thrones, coming in March 2021.
Flashing red and blue lights lit up the dark, dreary corner where North Main and Bell streets met. Yellow crime scene tape draped around trees cordoned off the perimeter of the wooden overlook. Floodlights invaded the stillness that surround the falls and voices bombarded my eardrums. I was numb, but not from the cold.
I had panicked once I realized I’d tripped over a body. Not a panic borne from fear, it was because I didn’t know how I could help. What to do. Blowing out a breath, I had to calm myself so I could figure it out.
It was dark and I hadn’t been able to see clearly enough to make a decision. Had the person still been alive? Should I try to start some life saving measures?
Not that I knew any . . .
Should I go get help?
The body hadn’t moved, even after me falling over it.
Not a grunt. Not a moan. Not a whimper.
Feeling with my hands in the dark, I found a face. I leaned in, my face close, to see if I could feel a breath.
I laid my head on its chest to listen for a heartbeat.
I should call for help.
Crap. I’d left my cellphone in my knapsack, sitting on the prep table in the ice cream shop. All I had was my aluminum bowl and scoop, so I started banging them together.
“Help!” I yelled out and hit the scoop on the side of the bowl. “Hey! I need help! Anybody! Somebody help me!”
But all my noise making hadn’t gotten one response. I looked down at the silhouette of Dead Guy and back up to the street. No lights from passing cars. No footsteps crunching in the snow.
I needed to get up the hill to get help.
But the snow was thick and cumbersome, I trudged up at a slow crawl. My foot sinking into the snow with each step forward, my gloves wet and covered with the powder. It seemed to be deeper and heavier the more I tried to get up to the sidewalk. Bent over, hands clawing in the snow up the incline, I was out of breath with heavy legs by the time I made it to the top. Once my feet were planted on the sidewalk, I had to place my hands on my knees to catch my breath and slow my heart before I could go any further.
With what I knew lay at the bottom of the falls, it made the night more ominous. The streets more deserted. The lights more dim.
I looked one way down Bell Street then the other. Not quite sure where I should go to get help. I just knew that I wanted to tell what I knew. Get someone else there with me. Then my eye caught sight of the woven scarf I’d seen on the kid who’d been down the hill with me. With Dead Guy.
I started to grab the scarf but thought better of it. People always come back to where they’d lost their things to find them. The little boy might return. Maybe I’d report the lost item to the police.
The police . . .
I had to call the police. Or an ambulance.
I scurried around the block, past the front of the ice cream shop to the side door and unlocked it. I hastily dumped the contents of my knapsack and had to catch Grandma Kay’s tin recipe box as it tumbled out before it dropped onto the floor. Hands slightly shaky, still breathing hard, I found my phone and pushed in the three numbers.
“911. What’s your emergency?”
I had to make a restroom pit stop to try to collect myself.
I shook my head. There hadn’t been anything I could have done. He hadn’t moved. He hadn’t made a sound. He wasn’t breathing and I didn’t know how long it would be before someone came along to help.
I ran warm water over my hands at the sink, dried them off and started to head back into the kitchen to get my knapsack, and ran right into Felice.
“Hello there, Muffintop, I said and stooped down, running my fingers through her white coat. “How did you get down here?” She looked up at me, fluffed out the end of her tail, then eyes half-closed, she blinked slowly. I picked her up. “You want some kisses, Sweetie?” I said knowing it was me that needed comforting. She rubbed her cheek up against mine. “Thank you.”
Holding her, I walked around to the back area where the stairs led to Rivkah’s apartment, and called up. No answer. “She must still be at the restaurant.” I looked at Felice. “Did you just come down for me? To make me feel better?”
“Mrra,” she said.
I met her forehead with mine, but only for a moment, she didn’t have to be gracious. She jumped out of arms and ran up the steps. I watched as she strutted up, I didn’t know how she’d gotten out. Rivkah never left the door unlocked.
Tonight I was glad she had.
I went over to the prep table and stuffed everything back into my bag, grabbed the bowl and scooper and headed back outside. By the time I got out there, a police cruiser was pulling up in front of the store. The officer got out of the car and walked over to me.
“Are you the person who called 911?” he asked.
“I am,” I said.
“What’s going on?”
I pointed toward the falls. “There’s a guy down there. I think he’s dead.”
May will be a good month for me. It’ll see the publication of For A Good Paws, my fifth Barkery & Biscuits Mystery. It will also be a difficult month, since For A Good Paws is the last mystery in the series. The series has been published by Midnight Ink, which is going out of the publication business.
I’ve enjoyed writing the Barkery & Biscuits series and have also enjoyed promoting the books. As I mentioned last month, I’ll soon be attending a couple of mystery-oriented conferences, Malice Domestic and California Crime Writers. I’ll also be signing at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. And I’ll be doing whatever online promotion seems appropriate.
But all the time, knowledge that there won’t be any further Barkery books remains in my mind. At least I’m not planning any, since I can self-publish, or perhaps find another publisher to pick them up, but don’t have any plans for either at the moment.
And—hey! Here I am at A Slice of Orange. Maybe you’d be interested in picking up a copy my last book in the series. It’s a fun series, after all—about Carrie Kennersly, a veterinary technician who buys a bakery and turns half of it into a barkery to sell the very healthy dog treats she’s created. Oh, and did I mention that it’s a cozy mystery series? Carrie and her friends keep tripping over dead bodies, and she has to figure out whodunit to save herself and them.
Okay, I know A Slice of Orange also features romance novels. Which is fine with me. I’m currently writing four new novels for Harlequin Romantic Suspense.
More mysteries in my future, too? I hope so. But meanwhile, help me say goodbye to my Barkery series, will you? Any suggestions?
In any case, it’s been fun.
First in a new series!
by Debra H. Goldstein
Kensington Publishing Corp. 2019 ISBN 9781496719478
They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. It’s also an effective way to take him out—permanently!
Every clue points to Emily, a chef on the rise, and it doesn’t help that the dead man is Bill Blair…her twin sister Sarah’s ex-husband. Throw a third woman into the mix, Jane, the woman Bill was seeing who claims that Bill’s family inheritance belongs to her, including Sarah’s cat, and you’ve got a recipe for murder.
In the midst of a major Food Expo and fierce, (shall we say deadly?), chef competition aspiring careers will be made or broken. Emily’s lawyer Harlan, and Peter the police chief, all life-long friends, match evidence and wits to discover the identity of the real murderer and get Emily off the hook.
In One Taste Too Many, Debra Goldstein will put your sleuthing skills to the test. If you think you can run with the best of the pack; whether Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Agatha Christie, or Jessica Fletcher of the television series, Murder She Wrote, Debra will throw you for a loop each time you think you’ve solved the case.
Intriguing and entertaining, you will bury your nose in the book trying to pick up the scent of each new clue. But like a sophisticated recipe, you won’t be able to guess the secret ingredient. And like the expert storyteller that she is, Debra will keep you turning the pages until she reveals the culprit. It’s not who you think!
P.S. I tried the killer recipe included at the end of the book (‘killer’ as in taste, not the one that did poor Bill in. That’s why I’m still here). I didn’t get it to come out the way it was supposed to, but it’s light, refreshing, and delicious. And if I might add…one taste is to die for!
See you next time on February 22nd.
What are your holiday plans? Are you looking forward to wrapping up in a comfy blanket, putting on your favorite pair of fuzzy socks,and tucking in to a cozy mystery? If so, then I have a delightful treat to tellyou about! Award-winning mystery writer Debra H. Goldstein is launching a new series and the first book is available starting TODAY! One Taste Too Many has all the classic earmarks of a cozy and a few riveting surprises as well.
Meet Sarah Blair, the twenty-eight-year-old law firm receptionist who’s never achieved her dream of becoming a private eye. Her over-bearing ex-husband derailed her ambitions then cheated on her and divorced her–and good riddance to him! So, we meet Sarah on her own and starting over, living in a tiny apartment with her cat. Life is going along just fine until her ex shows up dead at the local food expo after hours. The cute cop on the case thinks Sarah’s sister Chef Emily is the culprit, and Sarah’s dead ex’s mistress decides to try to steal Sarah’s cat – all just to get an inheritance Sarah herself may have been cheated out of! Sarah engages her lawyer boss to take Emily’s case, but all sorts of conflicts arise regarding wills and land development deals and it becomes difficult to know who to trust. Sarah’s not even sure if her own sister is being honest with her. Someone else gets murdered at the food expo, and Emily’s goose really looks cooked. Can Sarah save her sister and her cat, all while flirting with the cute cop and keeping the job she so desperately needs?
This book tells a page-turner of a tale that will have you biting your nails and rooting for Sarah all the way. Is she perfect? Not at all. But her foibles and struggles make her character so relatable and her story that much more engaging. The supporting characters in this cast make every scene into one more enticing step to the solution of the mystery. And about that solution? I could not figure it out! I kept THINKING I knew who it was. At one point, I was pretty darn sure. But I was wrong, wrong and wrong again. The identity of the murderer knocked me for a loop and took me TOTALLY off guard! But in retrospect, all the pieces fit–yet somehow Goldstein distracts you from seeing the clues.
In this book, Goldstein weaves a truly mysterious narrative revolving around a heroine you will want to follow through the series. Cozy up with One Taste Too Many and get ataste of this delightful new series! Available starting TODAY!
Judge Debra H. Goldstein is the author of Kensington’s new Sarah Blair cozy mystery series, which debutes with One Taste Too Many on December 18, 2018. She also wrote Should Have Played Poker and 2012 IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue. Her short stories, including Anthony and Agatha nominated “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place,” have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies including Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, and Mystery Weekly. Debra is president of Sisters in Crime’s Guppy Chapter, serves on SinC’s national board, and is president of the Southeast Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. Find out more about Debra at www.DebraHGoldstein.com .
Jann: Today we’re chatting with cozy mystery author and Judge, Debra H. Goldstein. We’re going to spend some time today getting to know her, Sarah, and RahRah.
Debra: Maze in Blue was published by a small company (which ceased operations shortly after the IPPY Award). The company did very little PR and I was such a newbie that being published, attending conferences and being a panelist, and doing book talks and signings was already a heady experience. When I found Maze won an IPPY award, I was over the moon because it was recognition that my passion had value.
Debra: One thing I was doing was my full-time job as a sitting federal Administrative Law Judge. Somehow that took a lot of my time as did family obligations. In terms of the writing, after my first publisher went out of business in mid-2012, I still had more than six months of scheduled conferences and speaking engagements. I tried to interest agents and editors in doing some with Maze in Blue, but was told to “write something new.” Should have Played Poker was the something new I spent 2013 and the beginning of 2014 writing. When I finished the book, I queried agents and pitched it at conferences with little luck until Killer Nashville. After hearing the first two pages, the editor from Five Star indicated a willingness to read the entire manuscript. A week later, she purchased Poker, but it was so late in the year that the 2015 catalog was full. That’s why it was released in 2016. In the meantime, I wrote short stories and began One Taste Too Many, the first book in what will now be Kensington’s Sarah Blair series.
Debra: I love Sarah Blair. She isn’t the perfect protagonist, but could be any of us.
Married at eighteen, divorced at twenty eight, Sarah Blair has nothing much to show for the last decade but her feisty Siamese cat, RahRah, some clumsy domestic skills, and a desire to succeed at her law firm receptionist job. Sarah knew starting over would be messy and a far cry from the life of luxury she led during marriage, but things fall completely apart when her ex drops dead, seemingly poisoned by her twin sister’s award-winning rhubarb crisp.
With RahRah wanted by the woman who broke up her marriage and Emily wanted by the police for murder, Sarah needs to figure out the right recipe to crack the case before time runs out. Unfortunately, Sarah is a cook of convenience who makes things like Jell-O in a Can. That’s why for Sarah, whose idea of good china is floral paper plates, catching the real killer and living to tell about it could mean facing a fate worse than death—being in the kitchen!
Debra: Cozy mysteries often include cooking, crafts and cats. When I began plotting One Taste Too Many, I realized there were a few areas I wasn’t very proficient in – cooking, crafts, and cats. Consequently, I researched each of these and decided Sarah would be a cook of convenience who lacked any craft skills and had a cat named RahRah. The more I played with the cat, I knew having RahRah simply be a walk-on character wasn’t fair to him (in other words, he talked to me and told me he needed to be a prominent figure in the series). The more I wrote, the more RahRah developed. He’ll be making an appearance throughout the series.
Debra: Book 2, which will come out in October 2019, is called Two Bites Too Many. In that book, Sarah will once again be forced into solving a mystery when it appears the police believe her eccentric mother murdered a prominent member of the community. In book 3, tentatively titled Three Treats Too Many, competing restaurants and dishes are bad enough, but murder complicates everything.
Debra: I envy people who can write a certain number of words per day. I can’t. I write in spurts or bursts. Often, I go days without writing, but I have come to realize plotlines are percolating in my sub-conscious. When I finally write, it flows, and I lose all track of time.
Debra: Having been orphaned twice, the best advice I received was “write something new.” If I hadn’t taken this advice and had simply kept trying to find a home for the books that were meant to be the first in a series and are now standalones, I wouldn’t have written the new Sarah Blair series I’m so excited about, my writing wouldn’t have improved, and I would never have had almost forty short stories published since 2012, including “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place” (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine – May-June 2017) which was a 2018 Short Story Agatha and Anthony finalist.
Debra: Each of my books have been written with show music inoNE the background.
Debra: I love the sound of show music. I can’t carry a tune, but listening to the lyrics is what makes the music work for me.
Debra: I was lucky to have a legal career that included time as a litigator and a judge before I decided, a few years ago, to give up my lifetime appointment to follow my passion for writing. The only other career that might be fun, and which I get to do aspects of when I do a book talk, is comedy.
Jann: Debra, it’s been great spending time with you today. Wishing you and yours a fabulous holiday season. Looking forward to reading One Taste Too Many!!
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