“One character Gottlieb really captured was Sylvie, Huff’s widow, who is loud, demanding, free to point the finger of guilt, and has dementia. I can still hear her yelling to Alene as she visited her father in the hospital.”
Gottlieb sets the stage beautifully for readers and with providing the list of characters in the beginning, you have your own little cheat sheet of sorts. And with all the twists and turns in Smothered you will be grateful to have the list so that you can keep track of everyone and check off those you believe are innocent. However when the real killer is revealed I’m sure you will be as shocked as I was because I’m certain they weren’t even on your radar.
In 2019, Battered: A Whipped and Sipped Mystery, my debut novel, was released into the world. It’s a cozy, culinary mystery, the kind without graphic violence, sex, or anything that would keep a reader up at night. It’s set in an imaginary Chicago café, the warm, friendly kind that plays a great 70’s song list and always smells like freshly-baked apple-cinnamon rolls.
This is the 87th entry in The Rap Sheet’s “Story Behind the Story” series. Today’s essay comes from Chicago resident G.P. “Galit” Gottlieb, who says she “has worked as a musician, a teacher, and an administrator,” but is “happiest when writing recipe-laced murder mysteries,” such as her brand-new novel, Smothered: A Whipped and Sipped Mystery (D. X. Varos).
I hate to tell anyone that I met Frank at a murder scene, first because yuck, and second because we’d actually met eight years before and only ran into each other a second time, at the murder scene. I’d hoped to never see another dead body, and I already had enough on my plate – my father’s autoimmune disease, my ex-husband’s attitude, my employees and all their issues, and my pre-adolescent daughter’s behavior. The first dead body was in our building. The second one was found next door to my café.
In a culinary mystery, a body will be discovered, an amateur sleuth will be forced to get involved, whoever isn’t murdered will eat and drink, and recipes will be provided in the back of the book. A category in the “cozy mystery” genre, culinary mysteries are often written as part of a series so readers can return again and again to the warm bakery, the delightful candy store, or whichever charming place the author has chosen to set the tale.
The following is an exact transcription of what appears to be an argument between my fifteen-year-old food processor and my four-year-old high-speed blender. The food processor (FP) must have been carrying a lot of anger before finally bursting out. “Nobody wants to eat pureed baby food for every meal.”
“I love writing and ideas for stories and plots are always swirling around in my head. After I finished writing Battered, I wanted to keep imagining tales about Alene, my protagonist, her best friend Ruthie, the vegan pastry chef, Alene’s father Cal, an ornery, sharp guy in his early 70’s, and Frank, the homicide detective with whom Alene is falling in love.”