Monday, December 18, 2017

"Riding with James Dean" by David-Matthew Barnes

Riding with James Dean
by David-Matthew Barnes

Riding with James Dean by David-Matthew Barnes

Riding with James Dean by David-Matthew Barnes is currently on tour with Bewitching Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please make sure you visit the other tour stops as well.

For another book by this author, please check out my blog post on Stronger Than This.

When seventeen-year-old Johnny moves to a sleepy new town and meets the enigmatic Marco, the glamorous Mary, and the punk princess Jemma, his summer nights are soon filled with friendship and love.

From a distance, I could’ve sworn I saw the ghost of Marilyn Monroe.
There was a beautiful woman standing next to Marco in the parking lot of the 50’s hamburger palace. They were leaning up against the side of his vintage car, waiting and doused in the shadows of slow pulsing neon lights. His arm was draped around her shoulders. It appeared she was propping him up. She laughed when she steadied him and the sound was sweet and melodic. She was a platinum blonde, dressed in a black pencil skirt and a low-cut white angora sweater. There was a red chiffon scarf tied around her neck. She exuded power in her black stiletto heels. She was a movie star in the making, a glamorous goddess just waiting for someone to discover her and catapult her to fame. If anyone had been born for a life on the silver screen, it was her.
She pried herself away from Marco and stepped in my direction. “You must be Johnny,” she said. I nodded in reply, mesmerized by the seductive green color of her eyes and the tenderness of her voice. She leaned in, kissed my cheek, and then spent the next few seconds trying to wipe her lipstick off my skin. Her touch was soft and comforting. 
“Are you Marilyn Monroe?” I asked. My words fell into her cleavage.
“You’re close,” she said. “I’m Mary.”
“Yes,” I said. “Marco mentioned you.”
“He’s like a brother to me,” she whispered. “Be gentle with his heart.”
Marco moved to us, wrapping an arm around us, connecting and cementing us as a trio. “I’m a lucky guy,” he said. “I get to spend the night with my two favorite people.”
“Marco doesn’t have many favorites,” Mary explained. She was clearly his interpreter. “So, I guess that makes us the lucky ones.”
Marco gently guided us in the direction of his parked car. “I wish we could go to Vegas,” he announced.
“Why don’t we?” I challenged.
He shook his head. “We wouldn’t make it there until dawn.”
“Dawn’s a lovely time to arrive in Vegas,” Mary said. “You can sleep all day and then be ready for the night.”
“Are we vampires?” I asked, with a small laugh.
“In another life, yes,” explained Mary. “In this one…”
Marco glanced up to the dark, starlit sky and said, “We’re the ones everybody else wants to be.”
Mary shook a finger at him, reprimanding. “Careful, Marco,” she said. “You almost sound smug.”
“Do you think they know?” he asked. “About how much we’ve been through?”
They looked into each other’s eyes when Mary spoke. “If they did,” she said, “they wouldn’t care. But our sorrow would ruin the façade.”
“Façade,” he repeated. “I like that word.”
Mary insisted on sitting in the backseat, but not before pulling me aside. “You belong up front now,” she explained, in a hushed tone. “Next to Marco. He needs you by his side.”
“But you were here first,” I reminded her.
“I appreciate your chivalry,” she said. “But you’re new.”
I slid across the bucket seat and into the shelter of Marco’s arms. He pulled me closer to him.  “There,” he said. “That’s better.”
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“I felt like I was reading this coming-of-age romance while looking through the lens of a motion picture camera. Everything was so visual, the colors, and descriptions all pulled me in.” ~ Todd Wylie
“Painted like an Edward Hopper night scene, with backdrops reminiscent of Giant, Riding with James Dean is a chrome-plated, nostalgic look at adolescent infatuation populated with a backseat full of colorfully-drawn, bigger-than-life characters.” ~ Wayne Goodman
Riding with James Dean is a beautiful coming-of-age story riddled with the excitement, romance, and fear that accompanies first love. Written in beautiful prose that cloaks the story in dreamlike veil, the reader is transported into Johnny's new world, filled with unique characters who embark upon a journey of self-discovery that will leave you wanting more.” ~ RJ Harris

About the Author
David-Matthew Barnes
David-Matthew Barnes is the award-winning author of several novels and collections of stage plays and poetry. His acclaimed screenplays have earned many accolades including a 2017 Los Angeles Film Award. David-Matthew has written over fifty stage plays that have been performed in three languages in ten countries. His literary work has appeared in over one hundred publications. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, International Thriller Writers, and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. He earned an MFA in Creative Writing at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina. He has been an educator for more than a decade.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of twelve ebook copies of Riding with James Dean by David-Matthew Barnes.


Saturday, December 16, 2017

This Week on Books Direct - 16 December 2017

This Week on Books Direct -
16 December 2017

This Week on Books Direct - 16 December 2017

Here's a list of some great articles you may have missed this week. Enjoy!

The Academy of American Poets is excited to announce that it has invited twelve new guest editors to each curate a month of Poem-a-Day in 2018.

The Academy Of American Poets Announces Twelve Guest Editors For Its Poem-A-Day Series in 2018 by Academy of American Poets

'Feminism' Is Merriam-Webster's Word Of The Year by Nick Romano for Entertainment Weekly
Merriam-Webster revealed on Tuesday that “feminism” is the dictionary’s word of the year, followed by nine other highly searched for terms that were largely driven by the Trump administration: “complicit,” “recuse,” “empathy,” “dotard,” “syzygy,” “gyro,” “federalism,” “hurricane,” and “gaffe.”

'Feminism' Is Merriam-Webster's Word Of The Year by Nick Romano for Entertainment Weekly

Check out the books that made the charts this past year.

2017- This Year In Books by Amazon

After being fed all seven Potter tales, a predictive keyboard has produced a tale that veers from almost genuine to gloriously bonkers.

'He Began To Eat Hermione's Family': Bot Tries To Write Harry Potter Book – And FailsIn Magic Ways by Alison Flood for The Guardian

Robin Benway, this year's National Book Award for Young People's Literature shares her own journey of discovery with Goodreads, one that took her from crippling self-doubt to reclaiming the magic of storytelling.

How A National Book Award Winner Overcame Writer's Block by Hayley for Goodreads

What can you do to make people want to watch YOUR Facebook videos? There’s one little tweak that’ll make your Facebook videos a LOT more watchable.

The Facebook Video Tweak That Could Seriously Increase Your Views by MeetEdgar

New figures show that fewer UK writers earn enough to live on, as ACE blames falling sales of literary fiction on the recession and the rise of smartphones.

Literary Fiction In Crisis As Sales Drop Dramatically, Arts Council England Reports by Alison Flood for The Guardian

Caleb Green's proud parents livestreamed his incredible performance from their home in Chicago on Facebook.

Four-Year-Old Prodigy Reads 100 Books In Just A Day by Dave Burke for The Mirror

If you enjoyed this blog post, please visit the other This Week posts for links to more great articles.

12 Days of Clean Romance - Day 12 featuring Cami Checketts

12 Days of Clean Romance - Day 12
featuring Cami Checketts

12 Days of Clean Romance - Day 12 featuring Cami Checketts

For Day 12 of our 12 Days of Clean Romance, we're featuring author Cami Checketts. This promotion is hosted by Kathy from I Am A Reader and features 12 of her favorite authors, whose books you can trust to be clean, fun, and 100% worth reading!

How to Kiss a Billionaire
by Cami Checketts

Sassy meets swoon-worthy in this fast-paced contemporary romance.
Miriam Salisbury escapes to Oregon to avoid a boyfriend who won’t take no for an answer, killing her beloved cat to prove it. When her father sends Clay Browning to protect her, she’s certain he’s lost his mind. As far as she’s concerned Clay’s experience is limited to posing for the camera, charming women, and making fun of her. He’s been teasing her since they were children and she’s never gotten over the way he threw crawdads at her at church picnics.
Clay retired from the military and entered the world of private security. When he gets the call to protect Miriam he’s excited to be around his lifelong crush. As expected, he teases her nonstop and the only thing he takes seriously is her security. He knows she’d never give him a chance and he can’t help but give her a hard time.
After Miriam is dumped in the freezing ocean on a crabbing expedition and Clay saves her from drowning and freezing to death, she takes a second look at her hired gun. But opening up to him is more terrifying than facing her stalker.
As events escalate to a frenzied climax, Miriam and Clay must put aside past grudges in the hope of finding a lasting love for their future.

Miriam closed her eyes as Clay’s arms came around her and held her tight.
“Whoa, darling, if I would’ve known I’d get this reception, I would’ve broken into your house years ago.”
Miriam pushed away from him, stumbling from the realization that he hadn’t changed. Clay was a vicious flirt and never took anything seriously. She shoved at his chest, but he didn’t budge. He was real and he was here, and unfortunately for her unsteady nerves, it didn’t look like he was going away. “What are you doing here?” she demanded.
“Your daddy hired me.”
“My daddy … hired you?” She glared at him. “For what? A pinup model?”
He smiled and tilted his head to the side. “I know I look good, but I actually have a few skills in protection too.”
“You do not. All you’ve ever been good at is spending your billions of dollars and getting women to simper at your feet.” She knew he’d been in the military for four years after high school, but after that, he appeared to be the ultimate player. At least, it looked that way in the online photos she’d seen, when she’d googled him. Okay, it was pathetic that she’d googled him, but he was Clay Browning, a.k.a. Miriam’s dream man.
He spread his arms, and she couldn’t help but notice the definition from his forearms and biceps up through his shoulders and chest. Maybe he should find a shirt that wasn’t so … form-fitting. “Hey, I’ve got lots of talents. What can I say?”
Miriam pushed out a huffy breath. “You are not here. This is all some kind of crazy fantasy.”
“I know I’m the stuff fantasies are made of, but I really am here.” He sauntered a step closer, and that spicy cologne made her stomach heat up. “You want to enact some of those fantasies you’ve been having about me?”
She put a hand on his chest to keep him from coming any closer. Those muscles were real. Yikes. She dropped her hand and stepped back. “For one second, just for one, be serious. Why are you here, and how did you get in my house?”
Clay rolled his eyes and folded his arms across his chest. Sheesh. What did he do with biceps that defined? Wrestle bulls?
Focus, Miriam!
“Your daddy called me, said Greg was threatening and stalking you and I had to find you. So I found you, and now I’m here to watch over you.”
Watch over you? She would not survive with this man in the same town, let alone the same house. Her throat was dry and all those daydreams she used to have about him rotated through her mind.
“How did you get in?” she demanded.
“I told you: I have skills.” He smiled and finally admitted, “I was special ops in the Army and I’ve worked in private security since then.”
“You’re being serious now? This isn’t some bull crap line that Clay Browning is giving me?”
He smirked. “You can believe whatever you want, sweetheart.” He took a step closer, and her legs betrayed her by not backing up. “But do believe that I’m here and you I and are going to get real cozy.”
Miriam looked over his gorgeous face. She clenched her trembling hands together and swallowed hard. “I’m not one of your flavors of the week, Clay.”
He leaned in and sniffed her. “Ah. Yeah, I think you are. Vanilla with a hint of chocolate. My favorite flavor this week.”

Praise for the Book
“This was a fun contemporary romance with a touch of suspense.” ~ Kathy (Bookworm Nation)
“This is a fabulous book! I highly recommend it.” ~ Jennifer Youngblood
“This was sweet and spicy with a dash of hot.” ~ Donna S.
“This was a great fun and clean book. I love all of her books. Her characters were fun and likable. I think I have read every book of hers. This book was clean and cute. I like how her characters are confident and have sass.” ~ Momma6
“Yummy, clean romance!” ~ ShaunaK

About the Author
Cami Checketts
Cami Checketts is married and the proud mother of four future WWF champions. Sometimes between being a human horse, cleaning up magic potions, and reading Bernstein Bears, she gets the chance to write fiction.
Cami graduated from Utah State University with a degree in Exercise Science. She and her family live in the beautiful Cache Valley of Northern Utah. During the two months of the year it isn’t snowing, she enjoys swimming, biking, running, and water-skiing.

Also by this Author
Don’t miss the rest of the Billionaire Beach Romances:


Enter the blast-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash.

Friday, December 15, 2017

"The Body in the Casket" by Katherine Hall Page

The Body in the Casket
(Faith Fairchild Mystery Book 24)
by Katherine Hall Page

The Body in the Casket (Faith Fairchild Mystery Book 24) by Katherine Hall Page

The Body in the Casket, the twenty-fourth book in the Faith Fairchild Mystery series by Katherine Hall Page, is currently on tour with Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for a guest post by the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

For another book by this author, please check out my blog post on The Body in the Wardrobe.

The inimitable Faith Fairchild returns in a chilling New England whodunit, inspired by the best Agatha Christie mysteries and with hints of the timeless board game Clue.
For most of her adult life, resourceful caterer Faith Fairchild has called the sleepy Massachusetts village of Aleford home. While the native New Yorker has come to know the region well, she isn’t familiar with Havencrest, a privileged enclave, until the owner of Rowan House, a secluded sprawling Arts and Crafts mansion, calls her about catering a weekend house party.
Producer/director of a string of hit musicals, Max Dane - a Broadway legend - is throwing a lavish party to celebrate his seventieth birthday. At the house as they discuss the event, Faith’s client makes a startling confession. “I didn’t hire you for your cooking skills, fine as they may be, but for your sleuthing ability. You see, one of the guests wants to kill me.”
Faith’s only clue is an ominous birthday gift the man received the week before - an empty casket sent anonymously containing a twenty-year-old Playbill from Max’s last, and only failed, production - Heaven or Hell. Consequently, Max has drawn his guest list for the party from the cast and crew. As the guests begin to arrive one by one, and an ice storm brews overhead, Faith must keep one eye on the menu and the other on her host to prevent his birthday bash from becoming his final curtain call.
Full of delectable recipes, brooding atmosphere, and Faith’s signature biting wit, The Body in the Casket is a delightful thriller that echoes the beloved mysteries of Agatha Christie and classic films such as Murder by Death and Deathtrap.

Chapter One
“Have Faith in Your Kitchen,” Faith Fairchild said, answering the phone at her catering firm. She’d been busy piping choux pastry for éclairs onto a baking sheet.
“Mrs. Fairchild?”
“Yes? This is Faith Fairchild. How may I help you?”
“Please hold for Max Dane.” The voice had a plummy, slightly British tone, reminiscent of Jeeves, or Downton Abbey’s Carson. The only Max Dane Faith had heard of had been a famous Broadway musical producer, but she was pretty sure he’d died years ago. This must be another Max Dane.
She was put through quickly and a new voice said, “Hi. I know this is short notice, but I am very much hoping you are available to handle a house party I’m throwing for about a dozen guests at the end of the month. A Friday to Sunday. Not just dinner, but all the meals.”
Faith had never catered anything like this. A Friday to Sunday sounded like something out of a British pre-World War II country house novel—kippers for breakfast, Fortnum & Mason type hampers for the shoot, tea and scones, drinks and nibbles, then saddle of lamb or some other large haunch of meat for dinner with vintage clarets followed by port and Stilton—for the men only. She was intrigued.
“The first thing I need to know is where you live, Mr. Dane. Also, is this a firm date? We’ve had a mild winter so far, but January may still deliver a wallop like last year.”
A Manhattan native, Faith’s marriage more than 20 years ago to the Reverend Thomas Fairchild meant a radical change of address— from the Big Apple to the orchards of Aleford, a small suburb west of Boston. Faith had never become used to boiled dinners, First Parish’s rock hard pews and most of all, New England weather. By the end of the previous February there had been 75 inches of snow on the ground and you couldn’t see through the historic parsonage’s ground floor windows or open the front door. Teenage son Ben struggled valiantly to keep the back door clear, daily hewing a path to the garage. The resulting tunnel resembled a clip from Nanook of the North.
“I’m afraid the date is firm. The thirtieth is my birthday. A milestone one, my seventieth.” Unlike his butler or whoever had called Faith to the phone, Max Dane’s voice indicated he’d started life in one of the five boroughs. Faith was guessing the Bronx. He sounded a bit sheepish when he said “my birthday,” as if throwing a party for himself was out of character. “And I live in Havencrest. It’s not far from Aleford, but I’d want you to be available at the house the whole time. Live in.”
Leaving her family for three days was not something Faith did often, especially since Sunday was a workday for Tom and all too occasionally Saturday was as he “polished” his sermon. (His term, which she had noticed over the years, could mean writing the whole thing.)
Ben and Amy, two years younger, seemed old enough to be on their own, but Faith had found that contrary to expectations, kids needed parents around more in adolescence than when they were toddlers. Every day brought the equivalent of scraped knees and they weren’t the kind of hurts that could be soothed by Pat The Bunny and a chocolate chip cookie. She needed more time to think about taking the job. “I’m not sure I can leave my family…” was interrupted. “I quite understand that this would be difficult,” Dane said and then he named a figure so far above anything she had ever been offered that she actually covered her mouth to keep from gasping out loud.
“Look,” he continued. “Why don’t you come by and we’ll talk in person? You can see the place and decide then.  I don’t use it myself, but the kitchen is well equipped—the rest of the house too. I’ll email directions and you can shoot me some times that work. This week if possible. I want to send out the invites right away.”
Well, it wouldn’t hurt to talk, Faith thought. And she did like seeing other people’s houses. She agreed, but before she hung up curiosity won out and she asked, “Are you related to the Max Dane who produced all those wonderful Broadway musicals?”
“Very closely. As in one and the same. See you soon.”
Faith put the phone down and turned to Pix Miller, her closest friend and part-time Have Faith employee.
“That was someone wanting Have Faith to cater a weekend long birthday celebration—for an astonishing amount of money.” She named the figure in a breathless whisper. “His name is Max Dane. Have you ever heard of him?”
“Even I know who Max Dane is. Sam took me to New York the December after we were married and we saw one of his shows. It was magical—the whole weekend was. No kids yet. We were kids ourselves. We skated at Rockefeller Center by the tree and…”
Her friend didn’t go in for sentimental journeys and tempted as she was to note Pix and Sam skated on Aleford Pond then and now, Faith didn’t want to stop the flow of memories. “Where did you stay? A suite at the Plaza?” Sam was a very successful lawyer.
Pix came down to earth. “We barely had money for the show and pre-theater dinner at Twenty-One. That was the big splurge. I honestly can’t remember where we stayed and I should, because that’s where—” She stopped abruptly and blushed, also unusual Pix behavior.
“Say no more. Nine months later along came Mark?”
“Something like that,” Pix mumbled and then in her usual more assertive voice, added “You have to do this. Not because of the money, although the man must be loaded! Think of who might be there. And the house must be amazing. We don’t have anything booked for then and I can keep an eye on the kids.”
The Millers lived next door to the parsonage and their three now grown children had been the Fairchilds’ babysitters. Pix played a more essential role: Faith’s tutor in the unforeseen intricacies of childrearing as well as Aleford’s often arcane mores. Faith’s first social faux pas as a new bride—inviting guests for dinner at eight o’clock— had happily been avoided when her first invite, Pix, gently told Faith the town’s inhabitants would be thinking bed soon at that hour, not a main course.
Faith had started her catering business in the city that never slept before she was married and was busy all year long. Here January was always a slow month for business. The holidays were over and things didn’t start to pick up until Valentine’s Day—and even then scheduling events was risky. It all came down to weather.
Pix was at the computer. Years ago she’d agreed to work at Have Faith keeping the books, the calendar, inventory—anything that did not involve any actual food preparation.
“We have a couple of receptions at the Ganley Museum and the MLK breakfast the standing clergy host.”
The first time Faith heard the term, “standing clergy”, which was the town’s men and women of any cloth, she pictured an upright somberly garbed group in rows like ninepins. And she hadn’t been far off.
“That’s pretty much it,” Pix added, “except for a few luncheons and Amelia’s baby shower—I think she baby sat for you a couple of times when she was in high school.”
“I remember she was very reliable, “Faith said.
“Hard to believe she’s the same age as Samantha and having her second!” Pix sounded wistful. She was the type of woman born to wear a “I Spoil My Grandchildren” tee shirt. Faith wouldn’t be surprised if there were a drawer somewhere in the Miller’s house filled with tiny sweaters and booties knit by Pix, “just to be ready.” Mark Miller, the oldest, was married, but he and his wife did not seem to be in a rush to start a family.
Samantha, the middle Miller, had a long-term beau, Caleb. They were living together in trendy Park Slope, Brooklyn and Sam, an old-fashioned pater familias, had to be restrained from asking Caleb his intentions each time the young couple came to Aleford. Pix was leaning that way herself, she’d told Faith recently, noting that young couples these days were so intent on careers they didn’t hear the clock ticking.
Faith had forgotten that Amelia—who apparently had paid attention to time— was Samantha’s age and quickly changed the subject to what was uppermost in her mind—the Dane job. “Where is Havencrest?” she asked. “I thought I knew all the neighboring towns.”
“It’s not really a town so much as an enclave between Weston and Dover. I don’t think it even has a zip code. I’ve never been there, but Mother has. You can ask her about it. The houses all date to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I believe there’s a gatehouse at the entrance. It’s an early equivalent of the mid century modern planned communities like Moon Hill in Lexington. Havencrest wasn’t a bunch of architects like that one though. Just very rich Boston Brahmin families who wanted privacy and plenty of space. I wonder how Max Dane ended up there? From what Mother has said, the houses don’t change hands, just generations.”
“I think I’ll check my email and see if there’s anything from him yet,” Faith said. “And maybe drop by to see Ursula on my way home.” Stopping to visit with Ursula Lyman Rowe, Pix’s mother, was no chore. The octogenarian was one of Faith’s favorite people. She turned back to the éclairs, which were part of a special order, and added a few more to bring to her friend.
“I know you’ll take the job,” Pix said. “I’m predicting the weekend of a lifetime!”
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“A cracking good traditional manor house mystery.” ~ Publishers Weekly
“Those who enjoy a traditional mystery with appealing characters and a New England feel will enjoy this.” ~ Mystery Scene
“The always-engaging Fairchild and the supporting cast of spirited recurring characters will appeal to fans of Diane Mott Davidson’s Goldy Schulz series and Carolyn Hart’s Annie Darling novels.” ~ Booklist

Guest Post by the Author
Whodunit Tied to Whoateit
I have always been interested in cooking, both trying to duplicate dishes and creating my own. My mother was a Norwegian-American and we usually had either fish and boiled potatoes or boiled potatoes and fish for dinner. We were happy, but at an early age my siblings and I started exploring other cuisines. When I began thinking about my amateur sleuth, Faith Sibley Fairchild, making her a caterer was one of the first characteristics I chose. This had to do with that early plot in The Body in the Belfry (1990), but also because I liked mysteries with food in them. Someone Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe by Nan and Ivan Lyons, Virginia Rich’s books, Rex Stout’s.
The Body in the Casket is the 24th in the series and Faith is catering a weekend long 70th birthday bash that legendary Broadway producer, Max Dane, is throwing for himself at his isolated mansion not far from Aleford. Max has not produced anything since his colossal flop, Heaven or Hell The Musical, twenty years ago. All ten of the guests played some part in the production and all ten have a very good reason to wish him dead. Faith and Max decide the birthday dinner should reference either the fiery pit or the opposite and I had a fine time researching possible dishes selecting Pasta Fra Diavolo for one and a truly lethal cocktail invented at London’s Savoy Hotel bar in the 1920s - the Fallen Angel!
I haven’t counted, but I’m almost certain I have even more cookbooks than mysteries on my bookshelves and I like to read them simply for pleasure, feeling no guilt at not cooking the recipes, just savoring them.
There are a number of mystery cookbooks that pleasantly combine the genres. Three of my favorites are: The Nero Wolfe Cookbook, Rex Stout and the Editors of Viking Press,1973; The Lord Peter Wimsey Cookbook, Elizabeth Bond Ryan and William J. Eakins, 1981; and Madame Maigret's Recipes, Robert J. Courtine (collected in honor of Georges Simenon's seventieth birthday),1975.
In his novel, A Duet, with an Occasional Chorus, Arthur Conan Doyle refers to Mrs. Beeton as "the finest housekeeper in the world." and notes that her book "has more wisdom to the square inch than any work of man." Household Management contained over 80,000 square inches of information, so this was high praise indeed. Mrs. Beeton is a fine place to start for recreational cookery reading. Besides recipes, Mrs. Beeton provides "instructions for servants who wait at table", lovely diagrams for napkin folding, specific instructions for laying a table - twenty-four inches for "each person's accommodation”.
In this country, we had Fannie Farmer. My oldest copy is from 1915, and like Mrs. Beeton, contains illustrations that are a window into a time when women, Martha Stewart not withstanding, had the time to garnish and frill. Besides such interesting items as "Broiled Oranges on Toast" and "Sweetbreads à la Root" (truffles, carrots, onions, celery, pureéd chestnuts, mushrooms and somewhere in all that, the sweetbreads), the author provides a surprisingly tasty sounding recipe for "Chicken à la King", that staple of my high school cafeteria. I think they must have left out the butter and cream, but I do remember those canned pimientos.
Library book sales, yard and rummage sales are treasure troves for old cookbooks and aside from their historical interest - the way we ate, especially across regions—they also offer more intimate connections with the past. Inscriptions to   brides, mothers, daughters, and new homeowners give us a sense of connection, especially if the recipients have annotated the book. I recently picked up a gem, Marian Tracy's New Casserole Cookery. The original Casserole Cookery went on sale the day after Pearl Harbor, I learned recently. It was still my mother's mainstay in the fifties and sixties for dinner parties. The previous owner of my New Casserole Cookery was a scribbler, and a pithy one. Next to "Roquefort Meat Loaf", she (her name is in the front) wrote, and underlined, "Lousy". "Turkey and Apple Casserole" was "nasty"; "Turkey and Cranberry Roll", "awful"—to describe a few. "Baked Peppers with Macaroni and Sausage" rated a "very good" with a note to be sure to "really parboil the peppers - it's all the cooking they get." For whom was she writing these notes - reminders to herself? For posterity? I wish I could meet her. Old cookbooks often have recipes clipped from magazines or recipes on index cards tucked in the pages like messages in a bottle.
Cookbooks that combine reminiscence or personal reflections with recipes are especially appealing - especially poignant when the author is gone - Craig Claiborne's A Feast Made for Laughter, Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking and More Home Cooking, everything M.F.K. Fisher wrote.
The favorites march on: all of Elizabeth David, Sara Kasdan's Mazel Tov Y'All, Calvin Trillin's Tummy Trilogy—American Fried, Alice, Let's Eat, and Third Helpings, Sylvia Woods' Sylvia's Family Soul Food Cookbook, Mimi Sheraton's From My Mother's Kitchen, Peg Bracken's "I Hate to Cook" books, Jane Grigson's Food With the Famous,
Food is a powerful mnemonic in our lives and reading about it surrounds us with both comfort and desire. When you add mystery as an ingredient, the result takes the cake.
Himmel Und Erde (Heaven and Earth) from The Body in the Casket
2 1/2 pounds Russet potatoes peeled and cubed
3 apples, roughly 1 ½ pounds, peeled, cored and cubed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon honey
Squeeze of lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes more.
Add the apples and continue to simmer until the potatoes are done (check with a sharp fork) and the apples soft.
Drain, reserving a little of the water. Put back on the heat and stir briefly to dry.
Add the butter and mash. Faith relies on her old-fashioned potato masher. Add the honey, lemon, salt, and pepper and stir vigorously for a fluffy result. If the mixture is too dry, add a bit of the water.
You may also serve the dish with crumbled crisp bacon and fried or caramelized onions on top. Granny Smiths or other tart apples give Himmel und Erde a nice sharpness, but any apples are fine. Nutmeg and thyme also give it a different sort of flavor as a change from the basic recipe. Garlic too. It’s a traditional German farmhouse dish, good with pork, sausage or chicken.
Serves 4-6
And never forget that Whodunit really is tied to Whoateit!

About the Author
Katherine Hall Page
Katherine Hall Page is the author of twenty-three previous Faith Fairchild Mysteries, the first of which received the Agatha Award for best first mystery. The Body in the Snowdrift was honored with the Agatha Award for best novel of 2006. Page also won an Agatha for her short story "The Would-Be Widower". The recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at Malice Domestic, she has been nominated for the Edgar Award, the Mary Higgins Clark Award, and the Macavity Award. She lives in Lincoln, Massachusetts, and Deer Isle, Maine, with her husband.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of three print copies of The Body in the Casket by Katherine Hall Page (US only).