A “Taste” For Murder and Mayhem

The Cooking School MurdersI suspect a good many authors who write murder mysteries and suspense like to cook, or at least they relish eating a good meal, because they’ve created characters for their books who like to cook and cull through recipes. In fact, this has it’s own sub-category in the genre: The Culinary Mystery. These books usually fall into a wider category known as “the cosy” or “soft boiled,” which are usually upbeat and violence-free or the violence is kept to a minimum. The sleuths are usually charming amateurs who’ve sniffed out a crime or mystery to solve. But that’s not always the case. I’ve noticed cooking creeping into books that would fall into the “set-of-the-pants” thriller category.

The culinary mystery may have been started by Virginia Rich, who wrote “The Cooking School Murders,” featuring widow Virginia Potter as her food loving sleuth. She went on to write “The Baked Bean Super Mysteries,” “The Nantucket Diet Mysteries,” and the “27 Ingredient Chili Con Carne Murders.” Although they are secular mysteries, they were written at a time in American literature when most mystery novels were family friendly. It’s almost hard to picture that. I order all my mysteries and thrillers online because in a book store these days it’s so hard to find a mystery without blatant sex, grossly sexual crimes described in nauseating detail, disgusting language spoken by the heroine or the hero, and blasphemy.

I’ve noticed when surfing through titles, that many modern mysteries, suspense and even thrillers are now featuring food prominent either in the background or foreground. Today you’ll find heroes such as a P.I who was formerly in special ops in Viet Nam, throwing a stir fry together that sounds delish.

I enjoy reading mysteries and thrillers that involve cooking and eating. In my first book, which I will be submitting to an editor on or before Nov. 1st, food is featured in a back handed way. My heroine can’t cook at all. And it’s a source of humor in the book. I wish more Contemporary Christian suspense authors would include cooking as part of the background to their books. I’d also enjoy a few recipes thrown in, as it’s well known that Christians are wonderful cooks. Just go to any church supper! I rest my case!

Tamar Myers’s Pennsylvania Dutch series has been included in the Christian mystery novel sub-division of the genre. This series started with “Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth.” I have the book and it won’t offend the sensibilities of anyone. It features Magdalena Yoder and her picturesque PennDutch Inn and as you might guess, the cooking is simple fare and wholesome. I don’t have the book, but I’ve read the latest in this series, “Just Plain Pickled to Death,” has wedding feast recipes, from soup to nuts. Author Myers is the daughter of Mennonite missionaries and was born and raised in a remote area of the Belgian Congo.