The Culinary Art of Murder • Book Six of The Alvarez Family Murder Mystery by Heather Haven
Lee’s Uncle Tío is smitten with the guest chef at a Silicon Valley culinary arts institute. When the woman is arrested for the murder of a fellow chef, a reluctant Lee agrees to help prove Tío’s lady love innocent. But Lee suspects the ambitious, southern belle of a cook might just be guilty. Undercover work at the institute proves to have more pitfalls than whipping up a chocolate soufflé. The killer isn’t done and tries to get Lee out of the way permanently. But just who is the murderer? The accused? One of her two sons? Another inmate from a cooking school with more to hide than dirty dishes? With secrets as plentiful as sauces, the nagging question remains, if Lee proves the lady chef guilty, will Tío ever forgive her for sending his new love to jail?
And Then There Were Nuts
“Well, looked who’s honored us with her presence. Welcome back, Lee. I almost forgot what you looked like, which is stunning, of course.”
“I see you got hauled in at the crack of dawn, too. For eight AM on a Monday morning you don’t look so bad, yourself.”
POISON by Galt Niederhoffer / Thriller / Released Nov 2017 by St. Martin’s Press
Review by Heather Haven
Cass, a widow from New York City with two children, meets architect Ryan Connor, who sweeps her off her feet. They end up marrying, moving to Portland, Maine, having a son, and buying a Victorian fixer upper. They are totally and completely happy. Or are they? The house seems to be in constant need of something, as suddenly does the rest of her life. Cass is unable to cope.
Ryan begins to stay late at work more and more. Is it another woman? Is it her inability to be who she once was? Or is she going mad? Why is everyone turning against her? Even her own mother testifies against Cass at a competency hearing in her ability to take care of her two older children. Where is her once idyllic, storybook life? And her life only tumbles down from there.
The author, Galt Niederhoffer, is a master at creating a world in which this woman is being psychologically tortured, either by herself or others. The reader sees the minutest details of her in the throes of losing her mind. In a very close and personal third person point of view, it’s almost as if the author has experienced a situation akin to the one she writes. But that is often the mark of a fine writer, to wear the skin of others. Poison is a sometimes difficult book to read, but the writing is beautiful, intense, and believable.
POISON by Galt Niederhoffer / Thriller / Released Nov 2017 by St. Martin’s Press
The party is over, and Cass and Ryan are walking, heading to their parked car through the streets of downtown Portland. The city is in a perennial state of rainfall. It is always either about to rain or about to stop raining.
The cobblestones in the old part of town are slick, and the brick on the buildings looks mossy. Ryan walks with the halting steps of a broken robot. The car is several blocks farther, on a small side street called Cherry. The walk is challenging for Ryan given the number of drinks he has had, the wet cobblestones, and the manic energy of oncoming trick-or-treaters.
They reach the curb as the light turns red, and just as cars rush toward them, Ryan touches Cass’s back, pushing her ever so slightly into the path of oncoming traffic.
“I’m gonna have to do it this way,” he says, “because you clued into the lobster so fast.”
“Hey! What are you doing?” Cass regains balance and stumbles back to the curb. She is more shocked than scared, more confused than outraged. The push was a gentle shove, as opposed to a forceful thrust, but it was a surprise nonetheless—as was the rush of headlights speeding toward her. “What the fuck, Ryan. Are you trying to kill me?”
“Oh, Cass, you’ve always got a theory.” He says this in the usual way, his demeaning demeanor, with all the usual implication. He says this as though there are two distinct ways to push someone into traffic—one humorous and one homicidal—and that she has jumped to the wrong conclusion, disappointing him once again with her shitty sense of humor.
“Are you trying to kill me?” she says. “You’re trying to kill me.”
“Yup,” he says. “And I know exactly how I’m going to do it. I’m gonna make it look like a suicide, and everyone’s gonna believe it.” He is smiling like a mischievous child who has successfully stolen a cookie.
“Fuck you, Ryan,” Cass says. “Fuck you. That’s not funny.” Cars are rushing past them now, making the threat of the act all the more potent. Cass hurries to the car, opens the door, starts the engine. She is pulling out of their parking spot as Ryan gallops toward her, fumbles to open the passenger door, and collapses into his seat in a fit of laughter.
The car is silent as they drive home, away from the city of Portland, over Back Cove and Tukey’s Bridge, into the dewy suburbs. The only sound is Ryan’s breath. In. Out. In. Out. A request and a rejection. A threat and a promise. A death threat or a diabolical joke. A mind game or a confession? Cass watches the light recede as they approach Cumberland, holding the light in her gaze as though the city is safety and every mile she drives away, she is farther from it.
TARNISHED GOLD by Barbara Townsend
Placer City, Wyoming, 1933: Em Olson struggles to keep her log hotel operating in the busted gold mining town. Her only help comes from a spoiled cousin and a loyal but disabled family friend. Her sister in California encourages Em to sell the crumbling family hotel. Their father had abandoned the family years earlier–an act that Em believes caused her mother’s death. But the thought of leaving the peace of her mountain village for the bustle of a major city repulses her.
While Em worries over the decision, a handsome geologist arrives at her hotel to scout for a gold mine for his boss. He explores the area for a suitable prospect as the attraction between Em and Finch grows. She’s stunned when he uncovers a swindle involving her property. Then she’s horrified when he stumbles on the reason for her father’s disappearance. Stressed to the breaking point, she seeks answers to so many questions while the man she has grown to love prepares to depart on his next assignment.
Book Excerpt of Tarnished Gold by Barbara Townsend:
From The Lost Season of Love and Snow by Jennifer Laam. Copyright © 2017 by the author and reprinted with permission of St. Martin’s Press, LLC.
A man says he will die for you. A woman is taught to lower her gaze and blush before hiding once more behind a silken fan. Men are given to self-aggrandizement, while women flatter egos and keep men tied to this earth. Such is the way of the world, or so I was taught in the days before I gained a reputation as the villain of St. Petersburg.
I know better now.
When a man declares he will die for you, sometimes a woman must take him at his word. For to allow one’s husband to perish on the field of honor is a shameful affair, worse even, than murdering him by your own hand.
The solemn men who gather at our flat fall silent as my husband draws his final breath. A prickly chill, like the first wave of a fever, washes over me as I realize my husband is gone. The sorrow tightens my chest and clamps down, squeezing until I think my body will snap in two. I sway on my feet and believe I will faint. Only the invisible force of my will keeps me upright. Dark blood still seeps from his abdomen and a sharp metallic scent clings to the air.
For two days my husband had been one of the waking dead, suffering a cruel and lingering death. Though I was not present at the duel where he fought to defend my honor, the image of Alexander collapsing, his blood staining the snow crimson, haunts my every thought. I have slid into despair, veering between hysteria and hopelessness, while Alexander’s wound festered and his once vibrant face distorted with agony.
His friends stand in a semicircle around his body, backs erect, mouths set in stern lines, and expressions stoic even as their eyes dampen with tears.
“What a waste,” I hear one of them mutter. “A genius lost over a woman.”
The words echo in my head. I was the wife of a distinguished man of letters, the greatest in our land, and I let his life slip through my fingers. These men suppose I care only for material comforts and romantic diversions and don’t believe I possess the wits about me to appreciate my husband’s talent. Rumormongers have convinced them I love the empty-headed Georges d’Anthès or have fallen prey to the advances of our iron-jawed tsar. They consider my behavior traitorous, as terrible in its own way as if I had joined the ranks of the Napoleonic soldiers who once threatened our very heartland.
I will confess to basking too long in the attention of Georges and even the tsar himself, yet I am no Jezebel, merely human, as vulnerable to flattery as any other creature. Much as I may wish to do so, I cannot change the past. The damage is done. A fresh wave of tears threatens and subsides, as though nothing remains inside me to expel. I wonder how long I will live with the torment of my guilt and the censure of those who claim to love my husband.
THE LOST SEASON OF LOVE AND SNOW by Jennifer Laam • Historical Romance • St. Martin’s Press • Released January 2, 2018
The unforgettable story of Alexander Pushkin’s beautiful wife, Natalya, a woman much admired at Court, and how she became reviled as the villain of St. Petersburg.
At the beguiling age of sixteen, Natalya Goncharova is stunningly beautiful and intellectually curious. At her first public ball during the Christmas of 1828, she attracts the romantic attention of Russia’s most lauded rebel poet: Alexander Pushkin. Finding herself deeply attracted to Alexander’s intensity and joie de vivre, Natalya is swept up in a courtship and then a marriage full of passion but also destructive jealousies. When vicious court gossip leads Alexander to defend his honor as well as Natalya’s in a duel, he tragically succumbs to his injuries. Natalya finds herself reviled for her perceived role in his death. In her striking new novel, The Lost Season of Love and Snow, Jennifer Laam helps bring Natalya’s side of the story to life with vivid imagination―the compelling tale of her inner struggle to create a fulfilling life despite the dangerous intrigues of a glamorous imperial Court and that of her greatest love.
About The Author
JENNIFER LAAM is the author of The Secret Daughter of the Tsar and The Tsarina’s Legacy. She earned her master’s degree in History from Oakland University in Michigan and her bachelor’s degree from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA. She has lived in Los Angeles and the suburbs of Detroit, traveled in Russia and Europe, and worked in education and non-profit development. She currently resides in Northern California.