Edith/Maddie here, wrapping up the first month of the year from north of Boston.
News Flash: Mary Anna is the lucky winner of Murder on Cape Cod from Wednesday’s post! Mary Anna, please check your email, and congratulations.
My new friend Amy Pershing has a new mystery series set on Cape Cod. I figure her protagonist and mine should collaborate on solving a mystery one of these days, and I’m super happy to welcome her to the blog to talk about A Side of Murder, which releases February 23.
I can’t wait to curl up with my own copy and head into someone else’s fictional Cape Cod murder – and solution. Here’s the blurb:
Beautiful Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is known for seafood, sand, surf and now … murder. Samantha Barnes was always a foodie. And when the CIA (that’s the Culinary Institute of America) came calling, she happily traded in Cape Cod for the Big Apple. When Sam inherits a house on the Cape and lands a job writing restaurant reviews, it seems like the perfect pairing. What could go wrong?
The dilapidated house comes with an enormous puppy. Her new boss is, well, bossy. And the town’s harbor master is none other than her first love. Nonetheless, Sam’s looking forward to reviewing the Bayview Grill—and indeed the seafood chowder is divine. But the body in the pond outside the eatery was not on the menu. Sam is certain this is murder. But as she begins to stir the pot, is she creating a recipe for her own untimely demise?
“Cape Cod provides a stunning background for a debut that offers the ideal combination of mystery, romance, and recipes.” Kirkus Reviews
Cape Cod as Character
I’ve always been drawn to mysteries in which the setting is a character in itself. Think of Ann Cleeves’ Shetland Islands, Louise Penney’s Three Pines, Donna Leon’s Venice, or Alexander McCall Smith’s Botswana. This was what drew me to writing cozy mysteries, where the sense of place plays such an important role. In the Cape Cod Foodie mysteries, I wanted to make the Cape I knew and loved as real as any other character in the book.
In A SIDE OF MURDER, my heroine, disgraced chef Samantha Barnes, retreats home to the Cape from New York. Of course the Cape is lovely, and Sam is the first to acknowledge this when she talks about her “one true thing,” saying: “Crystal Bay is the most gloriously beautiful body of water in the world. On a crisp mid-May morning, dazzled by the sunlight sparkling on its deep blue waters, entranced by the new green mantling its small, uninhabited islands, taking great breaths of the fresh salt breeze, one could be forgiven for thinking that this was what the dawn of the world had looked like.”
Sam is conflicted about being back on the Cape. This has more to do with her feelings about the town’s Harbor Master – and her first love — Jason Captiva than the Cape itself. But, still, it spills out, as when Sam complains about Cape Cod’s changeable moods. “The common wisdom,” she points out, “is that Cape Cod is paradise. Rolling ocean breakers on long stretches of golden sand. Tidal pools and spectacular sunsets. Lobster rolls, ice cream stands, silver-shingled B&Bs… all paradise.” But, she adds, “What Cape Codders know is that the Cape has only two seasons — tourist season and mud season. And autumn, of course, which is lovely, but even that only lasts for a month or two. But from November until well into June is mud season. Cold and grey and wet and unending.”
But Sam also knows that she’s not being entirely honest, that there are many joys in a Cape Cod winter. Just look at her friend Jenny, who, she says “adores winter walks along the long empty curve of Shawme beach, particularly when a blow is coming and the ocean is grey and angry. When nor’easters throw rain against the windows of her house and the wind moans and whips the tops of the locust trees, Jenny happily retreats inside, where she sets bread dough to rise, drinks tea and plays Monopoly (at which she cheats, I might add) with the Three Things. On the rare sunny day, she takes the boys to Trout’s Point to look for ospreys diving for fish or for a seal playing with a banner of kelp.”
Of course, in the end, Sam realizes that no matter what the weather, Cape Cod is, in fact, her heaven on earth. “It was another chilly, grey, gusty day,” she says. “We had the beach to ourselves except for the sandpipers scuttling along the wet sand at the water’s edge and the gulls wheeling and crying overhead. It was beautiful. It was paradise.”
(All photos courtesy of Molly Avellar at AdornCapeCod.com)
Readers: What about you? Do you have a favorite mystery or series in which the setting plays a huge role? One lucky commenters wins a copy of A Side of Murder (North America only).
Amy Pershing is a lifelong mystery lover and wordsmith. She was an editor, a restaurant reviewer and a journalist before leading employee communications at a global bank. A few years ago (with the final college tuition bill paid), she waved goodbye to Wall Street to write full time (and spend more time sailing on the Cape). A Side of Murder, the first of the Cape Cod Foodie mysteries, is her debut novel. You can learn more on Amy’s website and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.