I’d like to welcome Friend of the Wickeds, Ang Pompano, back to the blog. The Wickeds met Ang through Sisters in Crime New England and the New England Crime Bake. Plus, he’s been in a writers group for years with Wickeds favorite, Lucy Burdette!
Ang is here to celebrate the release of his latest book, Diet of Death: A Reluctant Food Columnist Mystery. Leave a comment on the post below and one lucky person will receive a copy of Diet of Death.
Here’s the blurb
Betty Ann Green is the Oprah of the cooking world. No wonder cookbook authors, celebrity chefs, and weight-loss experts alike would kill for a mention in the “Cooking with Betty” column in On Topic Magazine. Diet Guru, Dr. Alan Tolzer, is no exception.
He craves the chance for instant success for his latest Westport Diet Book with an interview by the columnist. It’s enough to make him swallow his pride and try to patch up his long-standing feud with the reclusive Betty.
No surprise there.
Everyone sells their soul in one way or another in the cooking industry. But murder is on the menu when Betty’s assistant, Quincy Lazzaro, arrives for the interview. Quincy becomes entangled and his complicated relationships with both Betty and investigating police sergeant Nina Estevez is nothing less than a recipe for disaster. Bringing the murderer to justice without exposing the secret to Betty’s success proves to be more difficult than sticking to a fad diet.
Take it away, Ang!
Barbara, thanks for having me back to talk about my new book, Diet of Death. It’s my version of a culinary mystery. Or as someone said, Agatha Christie meets Christmas in Connecticut. But in this case, an aspiring investigative reporter, Quincy Lazzaro, is tricked into writing a food column called ‘Cooking with Betty.’ He’s not a good cook but with recipes provided by his octogenarian neighbor, Mary Ticarelli, the column becomes a hit. When an interview results in the murder of a Diet Guru, Quincy must solve it with Mary’s help. All while protecting the secret that Betty doesn’t exist.
Barb, as you know, I’m a big fan of your Jane Darrowfield character. I love reading about and writing about older people. My last book, When It’s Time for Leaving, has a detective in the early stages of dementia. And my short story, “The Bucket List,” deals with an older couple whose devotion to each other gets them involved with a hitman.
Older characters have so much to offer. They have wisdom based on experience. Think of how Miss Marple bases her theories on her observations of the villagers of St. Mary Mead.
In Diet of Death Mary not only helps Quincy by providing recipes for the column, but she fancies herself a detective. In this excerpt, she’s trying to convince Quincy that there may be a coverup in the Diet Guru’s death. As Miss Marple might, she relates her theory to the experience of her cousin Lucy.
“How did he die?” She pulled me into her apartment. She brought me into her kitchen and put a plate of baked eggplant layered with cheese and tomato sauce in front of me.
“I don’t know. He was old, I guess.” I caught a glimpse of her gnarled fingers and wished I could have taken back my snarky comment. “It was probably a heart attack.”
“Well, that doesn’t look good for a diet doctor—to die of a heart attack.”
“I guess not.”
“Of course not. My cousin Lucy can vouch for that.”
“What does your cousin have to do with it?” I shoveled some of the eggplant into my mouth. It was delicious.
“Everything. She had a catering business she ran from her kitchen to make ends meet. Her husband, Charlie, was a gambler, never worked a day in his life. He died in the chair.”
“The electric chair?”
“No, the kitchen chair. He was eating dinner. So she dragged him outside and put him in a lawn chair under the grape arbor before she called for help.”
“Why would she do that?”
She gave a wave of her hand as if I were a fool not to understand. “People talk! If they found out he was eating dinner, right away they’d say ptomaine. End of business.” She slapped her hands in an up and down motion as if they were two cymbals.
It almost scared me that I got her point.
I must confess that the Mary in Diet of Death is based on my late mother-in-law, Mary. She was also a feisty force of nature and an excellent cook. She loved making cooking videos that received thousands of views while in her mid-nineties. And she loved to solve little mysteries!
If anyone would like to compare her to the Mary in Diet of Death, here is a link to her Pasta Fagioli video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Np7yfWh_4TQ
Readers: Do you enjoy reading about older characters? Writers, have you ever based a character on a relative? Leave a comment to win a free copy of Diet of Death. U.S. only, please.
About Ang Pompano
Ang Pompano’s short stories have appeared in many anthologies, including the Anthony Winning, Malice Domestic: Mystery Most Edible. His first novel When It’s Time for Leaving, was nominated for an Agatha Best First Novel Award. His second novel, Diet of Death was published in June, 2021. A member of Mystery Writers of America, he was a awarded a Helen McCloy/MWA scholarship for a novel in progress. He served for many years as a board member of Sisters in Crime New England and has been on the New England Crime Bake Committee for fifteen years. He is the co-founder and editor of Crime Spell Books. He lives in Connecticut with his wife, Annette, and their two rescue dogs.