Monday, August 02, 2010

Murder on the Menu: 13 Food Mysteries

In my new whodunit Nursing a Grudge, a clandestine chili party at a nursing home ends in murder. Of course, there's a long tradition of mystery writers serving up both food and murder -- here's a baker's dozen more of classic and recent mysteries with a culinary connection:

01 Too Many Cooks (1938) by Rex Stout
Starring: Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin
Brilliant crime solver and knowledgeable gourmet Nero Wolfe attends a meeting of great chefs. Jealousies among the 15 chefs soon lead to strife -- and, for one chef, murder.

02 Someone is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe (1976)
by Nan and Ivan Lyons
Comedic whodunit finds chefs all over Europe being murdered in the manner of his most famous dish. The book also includes each of the chef's recipes. (Basis for the film Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? starring George Segal, and Jacqueline Bisset.) Followed by Someone Is Killing the Great Chefs of America.

03 The Cooking School Murders (1982) by Virginia Rich
Starring: Eugenia Potter
This debut mystery introduced amateur sleuth Eugenia Potter, a widow and chef who divides her time between an Arizona ranch and a small coastal town in Maine. The book, which includes recipes, pioneered the sub-category of cozy mystery fiction we now call "culinary mysteries."

04 Catering to Nobody (1990) by Diane Mott Davidson
Starring: Goldy Shulz
In this first mystery, Goldy caters a wake -- and when her ex-father-in-law is struck down, the Department of Health impounding her leftovers and her ex-husband proclaims her guilt. Her business about to be shut down, Goldy can't wait for the police to serve up the answers ...

05 The Quiche of Death (1992) by MC Beaton
Starring: Agatha Raisin
Agatha Raisin gives up her PR firm, sells her London flat, and takes early retirement in the quiet village of Carsely. She enters a local baking contest ... and Judge Cummings-Browne falls over dead! When her quiche's secret ingredient turns out to be poison, Agatha must reveal the unsavory truth ...

06 Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder (2000) by Joanne Fluke
Starring: Hannah Swensen (Cookie Jar mystery series)
Hannah Swensen has her hands full running The Cookie Jar, Lake Eden's most popular bakery. But when a delivery man is found murdered behind her bakery -- with Hannah's famous Chocolate Chip Crunches scattered around the body -- she sets out to save her cookies reputation. Oh, and track down a killer.

07 Death by Darjeeling (2001) by Laura Childs
Starring: Theodosia Browning (Tea Shop Mystery series)
When a man is poisoned by tea, Theo is the prime suspect. Now she has to prove her innocence and track down the real killer -- before someone else takes their last sip ...

08 On What Grounds (2003) by Cleo Coyle
Starring: Clare Cosi (Coffeehouse Mysteries)
On her first morning back as Village Blend manager, Clare Cosi unlocks the front door to find her beautiful, young assistant manager unconscious in the back of the store, coffee grounds strewn everywhere. As Anabelle is rushed to the hospital, police deem it an accident. But there are a few questions Clare just can't get out of her mind ...

09 Some Like It Hot Buttered (2007) by Jeffrey Cohen
A Double Feature Mystery
Elliot Freed socked all his savings into the Comedy Tonight movie theater, never suspecting it would become a crime scene. When poisoned popcorn kills the guy in Row S, Seat 18, Elliot starts his own investigation ... one that may put Elliot on the cutting room floor ...

10 State of the Onion (2008) by Julie Hyzy
Starring: Ollis Paras (White House Chef Mysteries)
After White House Assistant Chef Olivia Paras stops an intruder with a frying pan, she'd like to wash her hands of the whole thing. But when she witnesses a murder guilt propels her to investigate, even if it means putting herself -- and her relationship with a handsome Secret Service agent -- in hot water...

11 Finger Lickin' Fifteen (2009) by Janet Evanovich
Starring: Stephanie Plum
Celebrity chef Stanley Chipotle comes to Trenton to participate in a barbecue cook-off and loses his head--literally. The reward for capturing Chipotle’s killers? One million dollars. Bail bonds office worker Lula, witness to the crime, recruits friend Stephanie Plum to help her find the killers and collect the moolah.

12 The Morning Show Murders: (2009) by Al Roker, Dick Lochte Nov 2009
A network exec is poisoned by a dish from Billy Blessing's Manhattan bistro, and an international assassin has just arrived in New York City. For the TV chef the ultimate career move is not about ratings--it's about staying alive ...

13 Colorado Crimes (2010) by Lisa Harris
This 3-in-1 collection stars chef and amateur sleuth Priscilla Crumb: In Recipe for Murder, the guest list at her son's hunting lodge turns into a suspect list for murder. Then in Baker's Fatal Dozen, Priscilla's favorite baker ends up dead and she gets caught in a sticky scandal. Finally in Chef's Deadly Dish, one of Priscilla's former culinary students is arrested for murder and needs her help.

Links for more Culinary Cozies:
Culinary Mystery Writers Cook Up a Mystery (Restaurants USA)
Cozy Mystery Authors with Culinary Themes (Cozy Mystery List)

Nursing a Grudge (The Earl Walker Mysteries)Nursing a Grudge (The Earl Walker Mysteries)
With the nursing home about to close for good, can grumpy old man Earl Walker find a killer—and figure out his relationship with his new lady friend—before all the suspects move away? Nursing a Grudge is a "fair play" mystery—a light-hearted whodunit where the reader gets all the clues. For fans of Agatha Christie, Murder She Wrote, and M.C. Beaton.
Buy for Kindle
Buy for other eBook formats -- including NOOK, Kobo, and more

More detectives:
LEE MCKINNEY (Chocoholic Mysteries) by JoAnna Carl
CHLOE CARTER (Gourmet Girl) by Jessica Conant-Park and Susan Conant
PHYLLIS NEWSOM (Fresh Baked Mysteries) by Livia J. Washburn
JESSICA FLETCHER (Murder She Wrote) by Donald Bain
EARL WALKER (Hometown Mysteries) by Chris Well

1 comment:

Dorte H said...

Fine list. I think I´ll have to add one or two to my wish list.

I just finished a nice culinary mystery yesterday: Riley Adams, Delicious and Suspicious (pen name for Elizabeth Spann Craig). The protagonist runs a BBQ, and one feels extremely hungry after the story.

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