Bigfork writer Leslie Budewitz introduces readers to a likeable heroine, Erin Murphy, in the first book of her series, The Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries.
The protagonist has returned to her hometown to revitalize and manage her family’s business and work alongside her mother, Fresca, to transform the Merc into a gourmet market.
“The Food Lovers’ Village” is how the locals like to refer to their lovely lakeside enclave called Jewel Bay. To emphasize this concept, Erin plans a town festival called The Festa di Pasta.
Instead of the setting for celebration, the event is marked by the murder of a former manager of the Merc who left Jewel Bay several months earlier, embroiled in a marital scandal. In no time at all, Erin becomes suspicious of several of the town’s residents, especially after fingers begin to point at her mother as a suspect.
Determined to root out the killer, Erin methodically prepares a “Spreadsheet of Suspicion” on her iPad, tallying the facts and narrowing her theories about who could have committed the crime. Readers familiar with the real-life setting for the town of Jewel Bay will enjoy trying to match the fictional to the factual businesses, streets and places the author describes.
Budewitz keeps a pleasant cadence to her characters’ conversations and events unfold at an engaging pace. Spiced up with numerous descriptions of tasty foods and wines, readers may find themselves often drifting to the fridge.
A few favorite recipes and notes on wine are included in the back of the book, including one for Caprese Salad, which the author describes as “… the dish the angels serve when God needs a snack.”
There’s more to come from the food-savvy heroine, so stay tuned to see what the “Spreadsheet of Suspicion” turns up in the next volume.
Budewitz is a practicing attorney and author of Books, Crooks and Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure, which earned her the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction.
– Judy Shafter