News Flash: Nancy Coco’s lucky winner is Crystal. Congratulations, and please check your email!
Edith/Maddie north of Boston, winding down a long month and looking forward to a warmer April.
Following our celebration this week of Sherry’s new Sea Glass Saloon mystery, I welcome the prolific and talented Nancy Coco. She’s also talking about the coast – any coast – and she has a new Oregon Honeycomb Mystery out this week!
When a bee wrangler is bludgeoned, Let It Bee honey shop owner Wren Johnson makes it her beeswax to solve the crime . For the picturesque town of Oceanview on the Oregon Coast, May brings blossoming fruit trees and the annual UFO festival. As Aunt Eloise tries out alien costumes on their Havana brown cat Everett, Wren is off to meet with a bee wrangler, her go-to guy for local fruit tree honey.
But when she arrives, Elias Brentwood is lying on the ground amidst destroyed hives and a swarm of angry bees. The bees didn’t kill him, a blow to the head did. As blue-eyed Officer Jim Hampton investigates and the town is invaded by its own swarm of conspiracy theorists and crackpots, Wren and Aunt Eloise decide the only way to catch the bee wrangler’s killer is to set up a sting .
There’s Something Wonderful About a Coastal Setting and Candy!
There seems to be a theme for me when choosing a setting for a cozy mystery series. That theme is coastal. I grew up along the shores of Lake Michigan, which we call a “Great Lake” but is really a freshwater sea and it’s not even the largest of the Great Lakes.
But I digress. For some reason – maybe my childhood home – I have set half of my six cozy mystery series near a beach.
My Perfect Proposals mystery series (written as Nancy J Parra) was set in Chicago along Lake Michigan. And both of my Nancy Coco mystery series – The Candy-coated Mysteries and The Oregon Coast Mysteries – are set near water, with the former on Mackinac Island in the straits of Mackinac, and the later along the coast of Oregon.
Why is water such a great setting for a cozy mystery? Beyond my own love of water, there is something about the beach that makes a mystery even more mysterious. Perhaps it harkens back to the old Gothic stories one the Moors with fog and water. Then there is something isolating about an island. It’s like an old manor mystery, everyone knows who is on the island and gets on or off the ferries.
It could be the wildness of waves and wind that help drive a great setting. Or the warmth or lack thereof in the water. Death on The Nile by Agatha Christie was set on water. It’s a perfect and somewhat awful way to bring loneliness, isolation, and fear into a book – even if it is only implied. I mean, my cozies are far from dark. They are fun and warm and contain great communities. Still there is something about a coastal setting that draws fun characters, adventurers and craftsman. Small business owners who serve tourists and locals alike and take daily walks along the beach.
Maybe beaches seem exotic for those of us who live on the plains, or near mountains. Maybe it’s what draws vacationers that also draws a great setting for mystery and mayhem. Or maybe in the end I just like the energy of water and need to get myself a house on a beach. Happily, there are plenty of great cozy series set near water.
Readers: Do you have a favorite setting? Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of A Matter of Hive and Death.
Just for fun, here’s a wonderful recipe you can make at home that harkens back to the beach and my protagonist, Wren Johnson’s honey store:
Honey Saltwater Taffy
Pad of butter to grease pan
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 ¼ cup of honey
1 cup of water
1 ¼ teaspoon of salt
3 tablespoons butter
In a heavy saucepan mix the sugar and cornstarch. Stir in honey and water and bring the mixture to boil over a medium heat. Continue cooking until a candy thermometer reaches 225 degrees F. Be patient as this can take 15 minutes or more. Then remove the pan from heat and stir in salt and butter. Pour the mixture onto a buttered large, rimmed cookie sheet. Let this cool just enough that you can touch it without burning yourself.
Then grease your hands with butter and remove the candy from the pan and start pulling it. To pull taffy you must stretch it, fold it, stretch it, and fold it until it cools off enough that you struggle to stretch it. Then roll into ½ inch wide rolls and cut with greased kitchen scissors into 1 to 1 ½ inch pieces.
Wrap each piece in wax paper, twisting the ends and store in a cool, dry place. Enjoy!
The second in the Nancy Coco Oregon Coast mysteries, A Matter of Hive and Death, released widely on March 29. The next Nancy Coco Candy-coated mysteries, A Midsummer Night’s Fudge, is out May 24, 2022. For more information, go to www.nancyjcoco.com.
USA Today Bestselling Author, Nancy J Parra AKA Nancy Coco AKA Nell Hampton is the author of over 30 published novels which include five mystery series: The Oregon Honey-comb Mystery Series (Kensington), The Candy-Coated Mysteries (Kensington), The Kensington Palace Mystery Series (Crooked Lane), The Wine Country Tours Mystery Series (Crooked Lane) The Gluten-free Baker’s Treat Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime), and The Perfect Proposal Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime). Her writing has been called witty and her protagonists plucky by reviewers around the world. Nancy is a member of Sisters in Crime and loves to hear from readers.