Josie Kilpack's Culinary Mysteries



Josi Kilpack is no stranger to LDS fiction. The author of more than seven novels, Kilpack has a way consistently producing plot lines that are both current and unique. Last year she came out with the first in a series of Culinary Murder Mysteries titled Lemon Tart.

Lemon Tart featured the adorably quirky Sadie Hoffmiller, a middle aged widow with a talent for cooking and a penchant for solving murders. (Think Jessica Fletcher meets Rachael Ray).

In this mystery, Sadie’s single mom neighbor turns up dead in a field near their homes. The victim’s young son is missing and nearly everyone in the neighborhood is a suspect.

Toward the end of last year, Kilpack followed up her successful Lemon Tart with the second in the series, English Trifle.

Sadie and her daughter Breanna are on vacation in the English countryside visiting Southgate, the huge English manor and home to Breanna’s boyfriend Liam. Within the first few pages Sadie and Breanna discover a dead body impaled to the wall of the sitting room by a fireplace poker. And as if that weren’t strange enough, the body disappears before anyone else has seen it.

Last January book three in the series, Devil’s Food Cake was released and featured Sadie's son Shawn. When bestselling author Thom Mortenson returns to his home town for a special library benefit, guess who’s in charge of dessert? Naturally Thom’s manager ends up murdered on stage, and Sadie is ready to jump into the investigation with both feet.

Kilpack’s books are packed with adventure, humor and delightful characters. And this in and of itself would make them worth recommending, but then there is also the food. In Lemon Tart, Kilpack includes a wonderfully refreshing Lemon Tart recipe that was easy to make and quite popular with my family. Her recipe for Alfredo sauce was to die for.

The English Trifle recipe from the book of the same name got rave reviews from my son-in-law when I made it at Christmas, and the Chicken Tikka Masala (an Indian curry dish) was delicious.

Book three is on the way to my house from even as we speak, but according to Kilpack’s website:

It includes such delights as:
Devil’s Food Cake, with Sandra’s Chocolicious Frosting
Tina’s Turtle Cookies
Melinda’s French Chocolate
Angel Snow Ball Cake
Classic Cocoa Mix
And the list goes on…

The other day I ran into a woman shopping in our local LDS bookstore for a fun light novel to read while her husband was out of town for the weekend. I recommended Kilpack to her and I recommend her to you.

One warning. You might want to copy the recipes out of the book before you actually make them. Otherwise, like my copies, your books will have nice butter and sugar stains on the recipe pages.

Austenland by Shannon Hale

Like everyone else in the world I am a huge fan of Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice as depicted by A&E staring Collin Firth. What’s sad is that this movie was really my first introduction to Austin’s writing. I think I got turned off of The Classics after being forced to read them throughout my school years, generally in a very hurried fashion the night before the test. So unfortunately, Austin remained a hidden treasure until the first night A&E began their classic mini-series.

Since then, I’ve been hooked.

There’s something about that formal world, where every possible situation had a prewritten and appropriate response. And humor was delivered with a quick mind and a clever use of words. (Compare that with the R or worse rated comedians of today!)

So when I learned that Shannon Hale had written a book about a woman obsessed with Mr. Darcy and the world of Jane Austin, I knew I had to read it.

Shannon Hale is a first rate writer and an excellent representation of the talented authors we have in the LDS Church. The New York Times bestselling author and winner of the Newberry Honor Award, has written six young adult novels, two graphic novels (which are not books with lots of sex and language, but a type of book told with both words and comic book like graphics) and two adult novels.

Last year LDSBookcorner ran Hale’s latest adult novel called The Actor and The Housewife, which followed the unlikely friendship between Mormon house-wife Becky Jack, pregnant with baby number four and super sexy, world known heartthrob Felix Callahan.

Austenland published in 2008 by Bloomberry, tells the story of Jane Hayes a woman in her early thirties who is obsessed with the above mentioned version of Pride and Prejudice, and specifically with Collin Firth’s Mr. Darcy.

Jane has a list of ex-relationships that are scary enough to make any girl give up men forever. (Hale recounts these various love encounters as headings for many of the chapters.)

The manor is everything promised and more. Jane finds herself dressed for the time period, following the customs, and even learning the steps to the minuet. She is surrounded by actors playing the part of handsome and eligible young suitors or mistress and master of the house. It’s easy to slip into her role as an Elizabeth Bennett type heroine.

But as the weeks move on, the line between fantasy and truth becomes blurred, and it’s hard to know what’s real and what isn’t.

This was a wonderful read. Hale’s sense of humor is sharp and edgy. Her characters are believable, and her heroine is perfect as an often a confused and awkward woman trying to find herself. There are a couple of kissing/necking scenes, but nothing that made me uncomfortable. And the plot kept me guessing right up until the last few pages.

Amazon sells it for under $5.00 new and has plenty of copies. I would highly recommend it and give it five stars.