Managing a fitness club café and collaborating on a cookbook with her grandfather are Val Deniston’s usual specialties, but she’s about to set sail into nearby Chesapeake Bay—straight into a murder case . . .
Since catering themed events is a good way to make extra cash, Val agrees to board the Titanic—or at least cater a re-creation of the doomed journey on a yacht. The owner of the yacht, who collects memorabilia related to the disaster, wants Val to serve the last meal the Titanic passengers ate . . . while his guests play a murder-mystery game. But it is the final feast for one passenger who disappears from the ship. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
Now Val has to reel in a killer before s’more murders go down . . .
Includes delicious five-ingredient recipes!
The characters are well rounded and well developed. I thought that Val was a smart hardworking woman who has a brain in her head, which I enjoy. The relationship between her and her grandpa felt very genuine and that made them both seem more realistic to me. I like when the protagonist has a relationship with an older person, such as a grandparent. I also enjoyed getting to meet Val’s friend Bethany and I enjoyed their interactions.
I really liked the premise of this book. I liked the fact that it revolved around the Titanic. It was fun reading about the last dinner and some of the other memorabilia that was included in the book.
The mystery was well plotted and perfectly paced. I liked the fact that there were only a handful of suspects to consider because that was all that was on the yacht. There were enough clues to sift through and some twists and turns that I did not see coming. The mystery was not easy to solve and I was not one hundred percent sure of the culprit until it was revealed at the end.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well crafted cozy mystery. This is the first book in this series that I read and I did not have any trouble following the story and characters. I will be reading the other books in this series when I can.
Maya Corrigan blends her love of food and detective stories in her Five-Ingredient Mystery series set in a fictional historic town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The first book in the series, By Cook or by Crook, was published in 2014. It was followed by Scam Chowder in 2015, Final Fondue in 2016, and The Tell-Tale Tarte in 2017.
Before taking up a life of crime (on the page), she taught university courses in writing, detective fiction, American literature, and drama. She won the 2013 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Unpublished Mainstream Mystery / Suspense. Her short stories, written under the name of Mary Ann Corrigan, have been published in anthologies.
When not reading and writing, she enjoys theater, tennis, trivia, cooking, and crosswords. Her website features trivia about food and mysteries.
When did you know that you wanted to be an author? What things, if any, influenced that decision?
I was an avid reader and visited two different libraries each week in search of books. Inspired by them, I wrote my first novel when I was 13 years old, pounding it out on a manual typewriter. I gave it to my best friend chapter by chapter, watched her reactions as she read it, and decided I wanted to be a writer who would make readers smile.
With so many cozies being written today, what makes your books stand out from the crowd?
I write the Five-Ingredient Mysteries. Each book in the series has five suspects, five clues, and five-ingredient recipes. One thing that makes my books different from many cozy culinary mysteries is the focus on food that can be prepared by the average cook. My main character, Val, runs a café at an athletic club and focuses on quick, healthy food to serve her customers. Her grandfather, who takes up cooking in his 70s, avoids dishes with more than five ingredients. Food is the centerpiece of the story. Val and Granddad compare notes on their sleuthing while making dinner. When suspects gather for a meal, the insights Val gains into character and motives give her the clues to solve the mystery.
Do you work from an outline or plot or do you just see where the characters take you?
Before I start the book, I know who the murderer is and the motive for the crime. I also do a high level outline of what has to happen in key scenes when twists occur and the investigation takes a new direction. The outline doubles in length as I write because I add scenes that I didn’t know I’d need. Yes, my characters have taken me in an unexpected direction. For example, I changed the murderer and the motive as I wrote three out of the five books in the series.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you do anything special to get those reviews?
I followed reviews closely when my first two books came out. Now I read them less often. I’ve learned that reading reviews gives me an big high if the reviewer loved the book and puts me in the dumps if the reviewer disliked it. Neither feeling helps me write the next book. I don’t respond to reviews. Reviewers are entitled to their opinions. I do respond when a reviewer or reader reaches out to me through my website or email.
When the Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) of my upcoming book come out, I contact bloggers who have featured my books in the past to let them know. I’ve also solicited new reviewers through my newsletter.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Time goes by quickly and you shouldn’t put off what you really want to do. If you want to write fiction, do it.
Do you think that the cover plays an important part in someone buying your book(s)? Who designs your book covers?
The cover is a huge draw for readers. One of the things I learned in writing five books is that a dessert on the cover is more appealing than a fish soup. Though my second book, Scam Chowder, which deals with fraud against retirees, is one of my favorites and gets really good reviews, the sales are lower than for the other books. Besides sales number, I have anecdotal evidence. At a book signing after my fourth book came out, one person in the audience bought three out of the four books, the ones with desserts on the cover, not the one with clam chowder.
My publisher chose Dan Craig as the cover artist. His covers display the ingredients for a dish mentioned in the book. That dish is usually in the title and plays a role in the plot. I love all the covers Dan designed for my books—including the one for Scam Chowder!
Please give us an insight into your main characters. What do you think makes them special?
I have an unusual sleuthing duo, a café manager in her early thirties and her widowed grandfather in his late seventies. They share a house and have to learn how to live with someone two generations removed. They have different value systems, challenge each other’s assumptions, and arrive at conclusions neither would reach alone. They have typical male-female and generational conflicts. Yet they are more alike than they realize—independent, dogged, and sometimes impetuous. But they always have each other’s backs. Granddad makes a great sidekick for Val, though he doesn’t like playing second fiddle to anyone, least of all his granddaughter.
What have you learned about yourselves since becoming an author?
I’ve discovered that I can’t be as much of a plotter as I thought. I learned how to outline before writing in high school and always did it for nonfiction. To my surprise, I found out that I can’t predict everything that’s going to happen in a 75,000-word novel.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
What do your plans for future projects include?
I’m a full-time writer, working on the next Five-Ingredient Mystery, which is Halloween-themed, coming out in September 2020. After that I’ll work on a Christmas-themed book, the seventh one in the series.
What do you think the hardest part of writing is? What is the easiest?
I’m a slow writer with an internal editor who wants me to perfect each sentence before writing the next one. I’d write a lot faster if I could murder that editor.
I enjoy the inspiration that comes to me in the morning after a good night’s sleep during which my subconscious has worked out a plot point and tells me what to do nest. Some people call that inspiration.
What type of books do you like to read? Who are some of your favorite authors?
I enjoy a variety of different types of mysteries, including those by Nevada Barr, Lisa Scottolini, and my all-time favorite, Reginald Hill. I also enjoy books about books, like The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and The Jane Austen Book Club.
Each year I reread at least one Jane Austen and one Agatha Christie each year.
What is the one thing you would like your readers to know about you?
I’d like them to know how much I appreciate their support. Writers work in solitary most of the time. When you contact me through my website, send me an e-mail, or talk to me at conferences, I know there are people out there who’ve read what I’ve written. You make my day.
Do you have anything specific you would like to say to your readers?
I’d like to say thank you to all the readers who enjoy mysteries. Without you, my books and those by many other authors wouldn’t exist. Happy reading and eating!
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Amazon Author Page: https://tinyurl.com/yakfszxo
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