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.
Congratulations on the new book. It’s one on TBR list. The setting of the book is important to me. It’s fun reading books set in places I have been, but I really love reading books set in places I’ve never been. My favorite location is New England. I think it’s because the region is high on my travel bucket list. I have read several books lately that take place in Cape Cod. It’s a place I have always wanted to visit.
Hi Christi! I feel the same way about books that take me to a place I’ve never been! I hope A Side of Murder will make you feel like you’ve really lived on the Cape. It’s so beautiful and unique. I get this same feeling of the true Cape Cod from Edith Maxwell’s (aka Maddie Day) Cozy Capers Book Group series, which I heartily recommend!
Aww, thank you, Amy!
Your book cover is too cute, Amy! I have never been to Cape Cod, but it sounds lovely. I could do without the muddy winters though!
Hi Marla! I know! How adorable is that cover?! I was so lucky to get such a talented cover artist for my Cape Cod Foodie series. The Cape truly is lovely — even when it’s not, if that makes any sense 😉
It’s a truly fabulous cover.
Amy, congratulations on your book and I wish you great success! As someone who live just off the Cape I have seemingly started reading a few series that have been set on the Cape lately. I’m adding A SIDE OF MURDER to my buy list.
I’ve also developed a love of series set in Ireland, I read a few of those as well.
Thanks, Jay! I hope you like A Side of Murder as much as I loved writing it! And I’m with you on Ireland. I’m a big fan of Sheila Connelly’s County Cork mysteries!
I’m reading that Sheila Connolly series as well as two by Carlene O’Connor and a couple other ones that I picked up but haven’t read yet.
Fictional town of Blessing Georgia in Sharon Sala books.
Sharon Sala is amazing! And who wouldn’t want to live in Blessing?!
Welcome to the Wickeds, Amy! Since the four influences you’ve mentioned, Cleeves, Penny, Leon and McCall Smith are among my favorites, I can’t wait to read A Side of Murder. I love the cover.
Ooops, please see reply below, Barbara! I’m still a newbie at this 😉
Congrats on the book, Amy! I love books with a strong sense of place – whatever that place is.
Thanks, LIz, that’s the goal! I hope you find it in A Side of Murder!
Thanks so much, Barbara! Your kind words mean a lot to me, as your Maine Clambake mysteries do exactly what I love in a cozy series — they make a place and a community come alive. Plus I love the way you write! And did you know that our books share a birthday?!
Welcome to the blog, Amy! Congratulations on your book!
Thanks, Sherry! It was great fun to write the post and now to respond to the comments. And may I just say that From Beer to Eternity is the best book title ever?! Plus the book itself was wickedly (pun totally intended) funny!
Congratulations, Amy. The book sounds delightful, and the Cape, a perfect setting. I love books that have a strong sense of place. Returning to them in a series always feels like a homecoming of sorts.
Hi, Kate! You have nailed it! It’s that sense of coming home with each book to a place you know and love!
These days and even before the pandemic, I travel by “book” and love to read about the Northeast. I started with Maine and read everything I could find to purchase on the state and have moved on down the coast to Cape Cod recently. Henry Beston’s book: The Outermost House–A Year Of Life On The Great Beach of Cape Cod sits finished festooned with colorful post-its for his beautiful prose and descriptive scenes. And, now I am reading The Outer Beach: A Thousand-Mile Walk on Cape Cod’s Atlantic Shore by Robert Finch where I am learning about beach erosion over the years. Thank you for the photographs of Cape Cod and best of luck with your new series…it sounds like one I would enjoy.
Thanks, Judy! I totally agree with you about The Outermost House. It is a lovely book and one of my favorites. If you’d like some other suggestions, I have a Classic Cape Books page on my website ( https://amypershingauthor.com/ ) that you might enjoy. I’m off now to order The Outer Beach 😉
And I’m off to check out that page, Amy.
You convinced me! I pre-ordered your book. I love that you pinpointed a sense of place as so important for cozies- it’s true and one of the reasons I’m drawn to cozies. I had my first week ever on the Cape last summer during the pandemic- it is a special place!
Hi, Shanna! And welcome to the Cape Cod Fan Club!!! Thanks for pre-ordering — I hope you love the book!
Karen Rose Smith writes Daisy’s Tea Garden Mysteries and the tea garden plays a very important role in her mysteries.
Hi, Laurie! Yes, Karen Rose Smith is definitely on my list, too. I lived for a year in Amish country, and she gets it absolutely right!
Congratulations on your new release! I love Louise Penny’s Three Pines series for the setting. Another series that I truly love is the Ashland Bakeshop series by Ellie Alexander, set in Ashland, OR. I live in Portland and love reading that series because I can “visit” Ashland whenever I want. aut1063(at)gmail(dot)com
Totally agree about the Bakeshop mysteries! Ashland is definitely on my bucket list, particularly if I can get there during the Shakespeare Festival!
Those are gorgeous photographs! I’ve never been to Cape Cod, but I’d sure like to visit, even if it is only in the pages of a book! Currently, my favorite place is Pikes Place Market in Leslie Budewitz’s Spice Market series. The other favorite that comes to mind is Virgin River in Robin Carr’s series. I’d love to live either place!
Thanks, Catherine! The pics are courtesy of my young friend Molly Avellar, who (along with my best friend, her mother) owns the best jewelry, art, gift, handicrafts and housewares shop on the Cape (in my humble opinion), Adorn. ( https://adorncapecod.com/ )
And I agree about Leslie Budewitz’s Spice Market series! I lived in Seattle for about three months just after I graduated from college, and I think she gets that wonderful city just right.
The new book sounds lovely! I do enjoy books with a setting that is central to the story. Sometimes it’s a place I’ve never visited like Alexander McCall Smith’s Botswana, a fictional place like Louise Penny’s Three Pines, or a place I already know like Leslie Budewitz’s Pike Place Market. I also love visiting the past in historical mysteries. The best of luck in your new series!
Thanks, Judith! That’s an interesting point you make about historical mysteries. They really are a “visit” to the past. I’m a big fan of Rhys Bowen’s Royal Spyness series, which does exactly that — it transports you to the place and time.
I love series based in Florida, especially Key West but I like other areas too. I haven’t read about Cape Code yet but I am very familiar with the area as my mother in law lives there and we visited twice a year before this pandemic. Thank you for this chance at your giveaway. pgenest57 at aol dot com
I’m sure you know about Lucy Burdette’s Key West mysteries, which are terrific. As is Sherry Harris’s new Sea Glass Saloon series set in the Florida Panhandle. And it’s always nice to have relatives who live on Cape Cod!
When a novel has a great sense of place, it helps draw me back for more books.
Really looking forward to reading this one. Congrats!
Thanks, Mark! Hope you enjoy it (and the eventual series)!
In most of the cozies I read, the setting always play an important role. Don’t enter me as I already read the book and loved it.
Thanks, Dru Ann! I’m so glad you’re a fan! It really means a lot.
Thanks for visiting the Wickeds, Amy! Settign is such an important part of any mystery and yours sounds delightful! I am particularly drawn to Scandinavian crime novels for their settings which are often so much chillier than my own home in New Hampshire!
Thank you for having me, Jessie! I’m such a fan of Edwina and Beryl (and, of course, keeping to our theme, Walmsley Parva). I’m partial to Scandinavian crime novels, too. So chilling, literally and metaphorically!
Welcome to the blog, Amy. And congratulations on your debut! How exciting is that? I love the Cape, and look forward to reading this book!
Thank you, Julie! It’s all very exciting (and terrifying). Do you know, I started reading the Julia Henry books because I couldn’t resist a town named Goosebush! (And kept going because I couldn’t resist Lilly and the Garden Squad, even though I am a certified brown thumb.) I do hope you enjoy A Side of Murder!
Settings are so important in all genres A great one jumps off the page and brings the story to life. Your new series is on the TBR. The photos have set in my mind a trip to plan when we all can breath a sigh of relief as the happenings of the last year are brought under control
Yes, I think we’re all planning trips in our heads after this terrible year. I haven’t been up to the Cape in more than a year and I MISS IT!
Love the cover. I’m a fan of Carlene O’Connor. I like her Irish Village Mysteries. I’m also a fan of Kate Carlisle. I enjoy both her bibliophile series and the fixer-upper series. The first is set in San Francisco and Sonoma County. The second is set in a seaside town in Northern California. I love the coast and old homes.
Thanks, Bonnie! I love that cover, too! It captures the sense of place I tried to capture in my writing. I’m a huge fan of Kate Carlisle’s fixer-upper series, too, having lived my entire life in old houses that needed a lot of fixing up 😉
The seaside series by Barbara Ross is a favorite.
Sisters of the Undertow by Johnnie Bernhard, I loved that book and where it is set. This book sounds like a great read and I love the book cover.
Thanks for the recommendation, Alicia! It looks like it would be totally absorbing.
Hi, Candy! One of my favorites, too! Her latest, Shucked Apart, is coming out on February 23! I’ve already pre-ordered it.
Sherry Harris’ From Beer to Eternity and Ellie Alexander’s Sloan Krause series are two favorites where the setting really comes alive. I’m sure I’m forgetting other great places- I love to travel through books!
Hi, Alicia! Looks like we’ve got a beer theme going here 😉 And I agree, in both series the setting is a huge — and delightful — part of the story.
Oooh, another new author and series to add to my overflowing TBR pile. How exciting! I love cozies set in small towns, real or fictional. I’m only interested in authors who write so well that I can see and feel the place. I love walking along with the protagonist and experiencing the story first hand. This book sounds like a winner. And, I do love Cape Cod having lived in Boston for 18 years.
Don’t you love your overflowing TBR pile?! Mine has, in fact, overflowed and is no longer actually a pile — more like a huge puddle 😉 I really do hope you add A Side of Murder to your pile, though, and that it brings the Cape alive for you!
I have been fond of many series where the location has played a big part. Being in the military has given me a wide scope.
I started noticing the setting while stationed in southern AZ in the 1990s. J.A. Jance has a sheriff, set in Bisbee which was only 30 minutes away. The Sheriff was also a girl scout leader for her daughter.
Did you know La Posada hotel in Winslow, AZ , has a J.A. Jance room? And both my daughter and are in love with Bisbee.
Boy, I guess I’ve been sniffing too much tile grout, but my last comment was a real boner. The J.A. Jance room is in the Copper Queen Hotel in Bisbee. Makes a lot more sense, huh? I’ve stayed in the hotel a couple of times, but not that room. Did see a picture of it and it is lovely.
I love, love, love J.A. Jance’s Joanna Brady books! Fingers crossed, some day I will get to the real Bisbee. And how interesting and varied your life in the military must be. I’m in awe (and grateful for your service).
Congratulations on your upcoming release. It’s on my TBR list, love the cover and it sounds like a great book. One of my favorite series is the Candy Coated Mysteries by Nancy Coco. It’s set in Mackinac Island, MI. I’m from Michigan and I’ve been there several times and I enjoy reading the books because they capture the actual feel of Mackinac Island.
I enjoy Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swenson Mysteries.
Hi, Debra! Another “Hannah-maniac!” I love Lake Eden — and the recipes (even though I am a terrible baker!)
Love this book cover! I prefer reading stories in small towns!
Hi LInda! I confess, I love this book cover, too! And wait until you see the next one, which is for a Christmas book! And if you love small towns, you’ll love Cape Cod’s Fair Harbor!
I prefer small towns where I get to know the characters. I DO ask for consistency. If A is north of B in book 1, it better still be north of B in book 5.
You are a reader after my own heart! As a former copy editor myself, consistency is huge to me. I promise you that Fair Harbor will always be slightly south of Wellfleet, slightly north of Orleans 😉
Awesome! Just our book club’s Cuppa Tea! We are anxiously awaiting the release of Barbara Ross’ latest book SHUCKED APART…and then we have to chose another ‘cozy’ author. So glad Barbara Ross introduced me to you, Amy via her Facebook page. Your book will be highly considered, as it will take us back to New England. We are a Zoom Mystery Lover’s Book Club, and our members are all over the US. Thank you for sharing your gifts and God-given talents with us!!!
Awesome, indeed! I would LOVE to be considered by your book club! Thanks for thinking of me and A Side of Murder!
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