Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mysteries and food, Jacob

With my ongoing interest in food and mysteries or the use of food in mysteries, I'm reading Virginia Rich's The Cooking School Murders, which is said to be one of the pioneers in this particular sub-genre (of course, Nero Wolfe precedes her, but . . .) It's a good, if slow paced novel, perhaps reflecting its 1982 pub date. After the first night of a cooking school class, three people die--one by obvious murder, a brutal stabbing; the second of carbon monoxide poisoining in his garage with his car running, and everyone assumes it's suicide; the third of drunkenly plunging into a lake and drowning. Mrs. Potter, the amateur sleuth, sometimes called 'Genia,' doesn't believe either of the last two deaths were suicide or accidental. But what I find most interesting is that she writes up scenarios of what she thinks could have happened if various people, some lifelong friends, were the culprits, including her own nephew who is living with her. I can't tell you what happens--and wouldn't--because I haven't quite finished the book. But the cooking school disappears after one session--cancelled because of the deaths. And food appears throughout--the menus people eat, etc., but it it used to create atmosphere, not as an essential part of the mystery. I'm learning that's the difference in many food-related myseries, but I still have a lot of mysteries to read. Not a chore I mind at all.

I did work today on editing Grace & Gumption: The Cookbook. I am hampered by not having electronic files at home, although I should soon have access to the press files. Meantime I think I'll ask them to send me the individual files Monday. But one of the hazards of retirement hit me Friday when a woman called and wanted me to come help edit a book that either she or her husband had written--I couldn't understand her clearly but it was about Shakespeare, perhaps local productions of the plays. When I said I was retired, she replied, "All the more reason for you to come help me," as if I didn't have a desk full of work in front of me--the cookbook, and three books to review for a presentation August 5, plus planning a recipe for a cable TV live demonstration on July 31. No, folks, so far I'm not finding retirement boring.

Jacob is here tonight, having arrived in tears because his arm hurt--we had no clue what was wrong with it, and it was soon better. Then as Jordan left, her friend Addie came in, and Jacob once again dissolved in tears because he wanted Mama and Addie. After a bit, he deicded Juju was okay. It took him a long time to get to his dinner and he ate, I think, one piece of a chicken hot dog (the cat got two pieces), and a quarter of a banana. I ate his blueberries (no points on Weight Watchers if you eat a small amount). I was a softie and gave him strawberry ice cream even though he hadn't eaten much dinner (he really wanted a waffle but I knew he'd get that in the morning). He was cheerful and funny the rest of the evening, and we're making progress on potty training. Now at 10:15, I can still hear him moving about in his crib.

Last night I had a lovely dinner with Jay and Susan, my neighbors, at Chadra a local Lebanese-Italian resturant we all like. Susan says they only eat there occasionally, but the staff all greet Jay like a long-lost friend, with hugs, etc. It's his salesman's personality, the same thing I see in Jamie. Anyway, it was a pleasant evening and a good dinner, and I am feeling spoiled--my birthday lasted for an entire enjoyable week. Today is Susan's birthday, so it was a double celebration.

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