Food that's downright criminal!
I stayed in a lovely B&B in Ste.-Adele, Quebec this past weekend and while the room was just right, complete with balcony, and the village was worth the visit, it was the breakfast that sticks in my mind. I love breakfast, especially when it's eaten at a location other than my house.
Although I wasn't able to eat everything on the menu, it didn't stop me from appreciating what was offered. Eggs baked in cream -- doesn't it sound mouth-watering, especially in French.
Last month I stayed at a wonderful B&B in Victoria, B.C. and had the same experience...a marvelous breakfast menu, different each day. How to feel totally pampered. Did I mention, I love eating breakfast out?
Now, I readily admit I'm not a great cook. In fact, I don't even enjoy it. OK...I may feel inspired twice a year, for no particular reason. And you're wondering, why all this information? What does it have to do with mysteries?
Plenty! Pick up almost any cosy these days, and there's food mentioned in it. The
sleuth doesn't sit down to lunch. It's a lunch of Tuna Nicoise with a glass of Pinot Grigio. Many cosies even offer the recipes at the back of the book. Now, you'd expect that with a catering mystery or BBQ series. But many of these have nothing to do with food, except that the sleuth eats.
So, I'm of the opinion that in order to write a best-selling mystery these days, you need to know your food groups. Better still, know what makes a mouth-watering meal that will keep the reader salivating while the search for the killer continues.
If, like me, you're not a cook then you must do research. Not a difficult task.
I love reading cookbooks, oddly enough. But of course, they must have photos. There's something tantalizing about a cookbook, especially an ethnic cookbook. Even if I never try making a recipe from that book, I will treasure it. And of course, that's one way to do research.
Or you can put yourself in your sleuth's shoes...and eat out. What a great reason to try that new Argentinian restaurant in town! And, you must know your wines, too.
There are even blog sites devoted to recipes. Check out www.mysteryloverskitchen for some popular mystery authors sharing some non-lethal recipes.
This isn't restricted to the cosy set. Many edgy thrillers have revenge plotted across the dinner table. And how many victims have found their fate in a poisoned dish?
After all, isn't this another way of describing characters? As a reader, I want to know his or her tastes in reading, movies, clothing, and food. As long as the information is blended into the story and doesn't slow down the telling. Aren't we all searching for the well-rounded character?
Linda Wiken/Erika Chase
A Killer Read coming April, 2012
from Berkley Prime Crime