The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook

Food and drink often play a starring role in mystery novels, whether the victim is felled by a poisoned meal or the detective has a whiskey habit (we're looking at you, Philip Marlowe). Many cozy mystery series feature recipes in each book. In The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook, more than 100 "plot stirrers" offer up a wickedly delicious array of recipes--dishes both they and their characters love.

"Food isn't used just as a weapon," writes editor Kate White (Eyes on You) in the book's introduction. "It defines character." These dishes certainly do. The peanut-butter-and-pickle sandwiches favored by Kinsey Millhone, star of Sue Grafton's Alphabet series, are pedestrian but surprisingly precise (Jif Extra Crunchy--no substitutions), while Lee Child's trenchant instructions for black coffee ("not some syrupy milk drink") are both entertaining and revealing. Other contributors offer tried-and-true family favorites, such as Mary Higgins Clark's Game Night Chili, or culinary creations inspired by their characters, such as J.A. Jance's Sugarloaf Café Sweet Rolls.

Occasional sidebars written by White provide entertaining literary tidbits, such as the origin of the phrase "red herring" and an exploration of poison in the novels of Agatha Christie. In a delightful meta-mystery twist, there's even a pancake recipe from Richard Castle, fictional mystery novelist and star of the TV series Castle.

With tempting recipes, engaging stories behind each dish and the occasional mouthwatering photo, this cookbook proves beyond any reasonable doubt that food and mystery are a winning combination. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

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