Kathleen Delaney‘s latest mystery novel, And Murder for Dessert (Poisoned Pen Press, 2007), provides the riveting twists and turns whodunit fans expect from their reading material. However, don’t expect spine-tingling of hair-raising from the start — the mystery at the heart of this book doesn’t come into play until seven chapters and nearly 60 pages in. For a 241-page novel, that’s a lot of plot setup to wade through.
Dessert is the story of sassy realtor Ellen McKenzie whose life in California wine country is just about perfect. She’s nearly recovered from a bad marriage and is in love with a great guy. But, just as she’s about to start planning her wedding (and, truth be told, she’s having cold feet), her niece Sabrina and Sabrina’s moody husband Mark appear on the scene. Sabrina and Mark are trying to get their careers back on track by running the Silver Springs Winery, but things go downhill fast when hot-headed head chef Otto turns up dead and floating in a fermenting tank.
From there, it’s a heart-pumping maze of misplaced clues, suspicious associations, former boyfriends and culinary adventures.
Press for Dessert describes it as the perfect book for anyone who loves a good mystery and a good bottle of wine,” though in actuality there’s little of true foodie interest. It’s set in a winery, there are mentions of a chocolate mousse and many of the characters prove handy in the kitchen. But a Monsieur Pamplemousse culinary mystery by Michael Bond this is not.
Delaney, it’s worth noting, is a retired real-estate agent who now writes full time. Since her children are all grown, she recently relocated to Gaffney, N.C., where she lives with her dogs — dogs who no doubt inspire the animal co-stars in her books.
Kathleen gives a reading and book signing at Malaprops on Saturday, April 12. The 7 p.m. event is free, and also includes local mystery author Hal McDonald, who will read from his recently published novel The Anatomists. Info: 254-6734.
—Alli Marshall, A&E reporter