Edith/Maddie writing from north of Boston a week ago, so who knows what the weather is like today.
Weather, schmether – it doesn’t change my warm welcome for my fellow Cape Cod mystery author buddy Amy Pershing, whose brand-new Cape Cod Foodie Mystery is out today! I love this series, and I know you will, too. If you happen to be on or near the Cape on Monday, July 11, please stop by our joint signing at the fabulous Titcomb’s Bookshop at 2 pm that day.
A Traditional (sort of) Fourth of July Celebration
You would think that an author writing about Cape Cod, famous for its summers of sand and sea and sunshine, would set all her books in that season. You would think. But you would be wrong. In the world of cozy mystery publishing, the season in which a book is set is often the season in which the book is planned to be published. And so my first Cape Cod Foodie mystery, A SIDE OF MURDER, which came out in February, was set during the spring, and the second, AN EGGNOG TO DIE FOR, which was launched in November, was (surprise!) a Christmas book. Nonetheless, both were great fun to write, in part because it was a joy to share the quieter beauty of the Cape in the “off season.” But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t happy when with my latest, MURDER IS NO PICNIC, I finally got to write about the Cape in the “high season.” And over the Fourth of July, no less!
For most of my life I have celebrated the Fourth with my family in a small Cape Cod town. There, as in many small towns across America, the Fourth is celebrated with three unshakeable traditions: the parade, the picnic, and the fireworks.
The day always starts with the parade down Main Street, which has remained much the same through the years (well, except for the hot harbormaster, see below). Here’s the hometown procession as described by our heroine, the Cape Cod Foodie herself, Samantha Barnes:
We cheered loudly for the Nauset Sailing Club’s homemade float bearing its traditional Sunfish sailboat with a red, white, and blue striped sail and, as was traditional, the club’s youngest sailor at the helm. We oohed and aahed at the Uncle Sam on stilts and clapped along with the high school marching band playing John Philips Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever.” And we totally lost it for the Shawme Manor float, a long flat-bed truck on which a dozen older ladies and gentlemen were doing an enthusiastic Electric Slide led by none other than Jillian herself. But best of all, in my opinion, was the Harbor Patrol’s Grady-White being towed on a trailer behind the Patrol’s Ford Explorer. The boat was draped with red, white, and blue bunting, and at the helm was the hottest harbormaster on Cape Cod (and maybe the world) waving to his adoring (on my part anyway) fans.
After the parade, comes the best part of the day– the picnic. A real Fourth of July picnic with fried chicken and potato salad and, of course, apple pie. But one summer my sister Megan broke with tradition and baked a blueberry buckle… dense, moist, studded with berries, topped with a crispy, buttery, brown sugar crumble. I’ve never forgotten it. So I guess it’s no surprise that Sam is thrilled at the thought that the World’s Best Blueberry Buckle might be making an appearance at her Fourth of July picnic:
Clara Foster was maybe going to teach me how to make the blueberry buckle of my dreams? In time for the Fourth of July picnic of my dreams? Because, for me, the Fourth of July is all about the picnic. Okay, and the fireworks. And the parade down Main Street. But mostly the picnic. Which this year, Jenny had decided for me, was going to be a BYOL (bring your own lobster) clambake and would now, maybe, just maybe, conclude with the best blueberry buckle in the world.
Well, needless to say, it’s not that simple. It never is with Sam and the gang. Unfortunately, Clara Foster meets a sad end fairly quickly (but not before she shares the secret of buckle success with Sam). Also on the down side, Sam misses the Fourth of July fireworks — those breathtaking, enormous, ever-expanding chrysanthemums in the night sky — out of consideration for her faithful pooch, Diogi:
That night I opted out of the Fair Harbor fireworks display. Not because I don’t like fireworks. I love fireworks. Diogi, on the other hand, considers loud booms fair warning of the coming apocalypse, which he then prepares for by cowering in Aunt Ida’s claw-foot bathtub.
But all is not lost.
Jason, who also loves fireworks, had opted to stay with me and my lily-livered dog. Because that’s the kind of guy he is.
After all, there are many different kinds of fireworks …
Readers: Do you have a favorite Fourth of July tradition or memory? (Mine might be my mother’s stars-and-stripes knee socks.) Please do share them in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy of MURDER IS NO PICNIC!
Amy Pershing, who spent every summer of her childhood on Cape Cod, was an editor, a restaurant reviewer and a journalist before writing the Cape Cod Foodie mysteries, including A SIDE OF MURDER — which Elizabeth Gilbert called “the freshest, funniest mystery I have ever read” — and AN EGGNOG TO DIE FOR — which Kirkus Reviews gave a starred review, saying, “A delightful sleuth, a complex mystery, and lovingly described cuisine: a winner for both foodies and mystery mavens.” Kirkus also gave another starred rave to the latest book in the series, MURDER IS NO PICNIC, saying, “A clever, empathetic, and totally believable heroine sets this fine cozy above the competition.”
Buy: MURDER IS NO PICNIC