Noir at the Salad Bar - Culinary Tales with a Bite edited by Verena Rose, Harriette Sackler and Shawn Reilly Simmons.
Thirty stories are contained in this generous anthology. Many tales involve murder via food. Others use a restaurant, bar, or alternative food service as the setting. The stories varied from solidly noir to historical, traditional mystery, and even horror.
"Noir" is a style of crime fiction that portrays a cynical view of the world. Characters are deeply flawed, and the endings are bleak. In the strict definition of noir, not every story in this anthology fits that style. That suits me just fine. In Noir at the Salad Bar, there are stories for every taste.
The first tale is Cole Slaughter by Sheila Connolly. What an ending! This story fits the definition of noir, as a disgruntled woman seeks revenge for past wounds. The Lobster Tank by E. A. Aymar also has the brooding darkness of noir. A hitman with a blossoming conscience has qualms when a jerk hires him to kill his wife.
Noir at the Salad Bar contains historical mysteries with Harvey House by Joyce Ann Brown and Family Business by Harriette Sackler. Harvey House is told through the point of view of a Navajo waitress working in a railroad restaurant in the American West. Family Business follows a Jewish immigrant in 1898 New York who sells blintzes to make ends meet.
I was genuinely horrified, in a good way, by Martin Edwards' Consuming Passion. Two men meet to hash out their contentious history over fine wine and a gourmet meal. Is it noir, or is it horror? Does it matter? It was a solidly written story. The same goes for The Hearts of Men by Karen Cantwell. Short and not sweet at all, the story of Junie Harken and her pickles was hair raising.
Several stories are what I classify as traditional mysteries. There is a problem that must be solved, a puzzle worked out.
Smoked by Michael Bracken is action packed as I was drawn into Beau's world of pit barbeque. Beau is content with obscurity, until a faithful customer puts the spotlight on him by steering a magazine reviewer his way. His minor fame dredges up consequences from his shady past.
Jason Half creatively set his story at a baseball stadium. Bases Looted gathers together food concessionaires who are accused of stealing a diamond encrusted tournament prize. Was it the taco vendor, the girl selling soda pop, the peanut guy, or even a fellow pushing "new wave gourmet fare." The characters in Bases Looted were distinctly drawn with clever descriptions like "The guard switched from German shepherd to Australian cattle dog, herding me and my metal steamer full of franks and buns down the corridor."
Another traditional mystery in an unusual setting is Togas and Toques by Alan Orloff. A reality TV cooking contest turns deadly as chefs compete for a twenty five thousand dollar prize. And the character names were clever, too - Baker and Cook are the investigating officers.
This is just a sampling of the stories in this collection. I recommend Noir at the Salad Bar if you're looking for a nice variety of mystery stories sharing a common theme. From various settings, situations, and tones, there is something for everyone at this fictional buffet.
I like to think I'm a versatile writer, able to tackle fiction projects with differing requirements. This month, I took that a step or two further. On July 10, my dark (for me) short story Do-Over appeared in Blood and Gasoline. A few days later, I received my author copies of Ink or Swim, a gentle cozy mystery in the Secrets of the Castleton Manor series.
I enjoy reading a variety of styles of fiction. I do prefer uplifting stories. Make everything work out in the end. Give me a happy ending.
What's your preference?
We took a much needed short vacation to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. Our eldest granddaughter accompanied us. Her parents and siblings met up with us in Yellowstone, followed a day later by our youngest daughter. We had all been to Yellowstone numerous times in the past, so we knew three days was not enough time to see the entire park. We concentrated on areas close to our campsite at Canyon Campground. Despite one day of rain we hiked, seeing geysers and wildlife off the beaten path. Slideshow below.
The online magazine King's River Life recently began offering free podcasts of mystery short stories. I just listened to Joan Leotta's The Dead Lady's Coat. I enjoyed listening to a story for a change. I recommend checking out this new feature. KRL plans to present short stories and first chapters.
A story by Peter DiChellis appeared in the Mystery Weekly Magazine July issue. Locked Tight is a locked room mystery, with the room being a jail cell. I enjoyed the small town Southern characters, especially Sheriff Weemly, a man with OCD style quirks, and Miz Lucille, a busybody mystery fan who offers not-so-helpful helpful advice to find a killer.
Catherine, thank you for the generous opportunity to visit your blog.
Resorts Come In All Varieties
I’m Avery Daniels, author of the Resort to Murder mystery series. My amateur sleuth, Julienne, works in a luxury resort and the plan is to have each book based in or around a resort. When I was developing the idea for my cozy mystery series, I thought writing about resorts would be fun for both myself as the writer and for the readers.
Perhaps some will remember the old television series “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” which lasted eleven seasons and fed our thirst for living vicariously through the lives of those who live extravagantly. That was my initial thought with Resort to Murder series, providing a vicarious thrill at various resorts in each book. I knew I would love such a concept myself and crossed my fingers that others felt the same way.
Friends would jokingly say the research was why I picked the theme for the books, but I had no idea what all was involved with resorts. I ended up getting a textbook on Resort Management. Then I realized there were many classifications of resort types, which added to the research equation before ever traveling to a single resort.
For many of us, we immediately think of a tropical beach or island location when you say the word Resort. Oh no, there are many more types that can even have a combination of the classifications in one resort. Here is a quick listing of the types or classifications of resorts around the world to consider: Beach Resorts, Golf Resorts, Island Resorts, Luxury Resorts, Lake, Mountain, Ski, Spa, Pet-Friendly, Theme Park, Historical, Dude Ranch, Singles, Couples, Adult-Only, Family, Eco-Tourism, Clothing-Optional, Casino and All Inclusive Resorts.
The primary home-base resort that Julienne works at is a combination of luxury, mountain, historical, and golf resort. I loosely based the Colorado Springs Resort of the series on The Broadmoor Resort (https://www.broadmoor.com/) for the first and third books so far. Incidentally, the Broadmoor is celebrating it’s 100th year of business this year. The second book was a luxury, ski, and mountain resort in Vail loosely based on the Sonnenalp (https://sonnenalp.com/).
For the fourth book, that I am gathering ideas for even as I write the third book, I am considering locating the story at an Eco-Tourism Resort. What is that you ask? Well, it is an environmentally friendly resort that may incorporate a combination of the following: renewable energy sources, recycling, eco-friendly toiletries, energy efficient lighting and heating, water conservation program, perhaps organic linens and towels, locally sourced food, possibly provide activities in nature to educate guests on local plants, animals, and even indigenous culture to appreciate local customs.
Eco-tourism resorts have become more and more popular over the decades and there are some quite luxurious resorts that are equally environmentally conscientious. More people specifically look for Eco-friendly accommodations when planning vacations now. Eco-lodges are a little more rustic and will provide activities more centered on getting into nature. There is GreenGlobalTravel.com as just one of many sites to find Eco-tourism resorts anywhere you are planning to travel.
I look forward to writing about all the different Resort types to share with readers. What is your favorite type of resort from those listed? Would you consider an Eco-tourism resort or lodge?
Buy links for first in Resort to Murder series, ICED:
Barnes and Noble https://m.barnesandnoble.com/w/iced-avery-daniels/1126467939
Audio book: https://www.audible.com/pd/Mysteries-Thrillers/Iced-A-Resort-to-Murder-Mystery-Audiobook/B074FC3T1G
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