Friday, November 7, 2014

By Cook or By Crook by Maya Corrigan: Guest Author, Review & Giveaway

A Character “Recalled To Life”
By Maya Corrigan

You may recognize the phrase “recalled to life” from Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. In that wonderful novel, the person recalled to life is the long-imprisoned Doctor Manette who’s suddenly set free. The phrase fits the character in my mysteries that readers have told me is their favorite—Granddad. Hard to believe that he spent years locked away in the prison of my mind before he broke out. 

My culinary mysteries feature Val Deniston, a café manager and former cookbook publicist who solves murders with help from her curmudgeonly grandfather and her friends from the athletic club café. By Cook or by Crook, the first in the Five-Ingredient series, grew out of a traditional mystery I’d written and put aside for a few years. That mystery was fairly dark, beginning with the deaths of two people close to Val. When I revised it as the first book in a cozy mystery series, I needed to lighten it up. 

The first step was to resurrect the two dead characters. One of them morphed into someone who has remained in the background, at least for the first two mysteries in the series. The other resurrected character, Val’s grandfather, immediately assumed an important role in story. Hard to believe I’d ever done without him. He was the missing ingredient in my story.

Around the time I was developing Granddad as a character, I came home from a white-elephant gift exchange with a pair of folk art dolls. From the moment I sat that couple in my living room, I felt as if Val’s granddad was watching every move I made. He resembles the man in the corner of my room—bald on top, hair sticking out from the side, furry white eyebrows, and a mischievous look in his eye. Of course, Val’s grandfather would protest that he’s a lot younger than the guy in my living room, and that’s true. 

I took the grandfather’s appearance from a doll and some of his traits from my father. I grew up in a traditional family with a stay-at-home Mom who planned and cooked every meal we ate. When she was 82, she underwent chemotherapy, which left her barely able to get out of bed for months. So my father, at age 85, took over the cooking and housekeeping, doing all the things for her that she’d done for him for the previous 60 years. He continued cooking even after my mother recovered. He taught me that you can learn new skills no matter how old you are.

Though Val’s granddad is a decade younger than my father was when he took up cooking, they share several traits and quirks. I’ll mention only one of them here. Whenever my father invited me to a dinner that he’d cooked, he’d proudly announce how few ingredients he’d used to make a dish. Similarly, Val’s grandfather won’t tackle any dish with more than five ingredients. 

In the Five-Ingredient series, Granddad’s role extends beyond the kitchen. He serves as both a confidante and a foil for Val. He has spent his whole life in Bayport, whereas she lived there for only a few years when she was a teen. She relies on his insights into the town and its people to help her solve crimes. Because they have different value systems and challenge each other’s assumptions, they arrive at conclusions that neither would reach alone. They make a good team though their relationship is not always smooth. They have typical male-female and old-young conflicts, as well as generational differences with respect to food. Yet they are more alike than either of them realizes—independent, dogged, and sometimes impetuous. Having been recalled to life, he doesn’t want play second fiddle to anyone, least of all his granddaughter.

The second Five-Ingredient Mystery, Scam Chowder, suggests a more significant conflict may arise between Val and her grandfather. He’s apparently making moves to take over the series. 

About the Author: Maya Corrigan lives near Washington, D.C., within easy driving distance of Maryland's Eastern Shore, the setting for her series. She has taught courses in writing, detective fiction, and American literature at Georgetown University and NOVA community college. In 2013 she won the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Unpublished Mystery/Suspense. Her short stories, written under the name of Mary Ann Corrigan, have been published in anthologies, including the Chesapeake Crimes series. When not reading and writing, she enjoys theater, tennis, trivia, cooking, and crosswords. Her website features trivia about mysteries:

Author Links
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By Cook or by Crook

Giveaway: Leave a comment by noon eastern on Wednesday, November 12th for your chance to win a paperback copy of By Cook or By Crook. Don't forget your email address! (US entries only, please.)

BlurbTake one burned-out city girl. Add a crusty codger, a pinch of gossip, and a dash of romance. Stir in a generous helping of murder and you’ve got the ingredients for one truly delicious mystery…

Haunted by the car accident that ended her career as a cookbook publicist, Val Deniston has traded in the chaos of New York City for a quieter life near the Chesapeake Bay. Living with her curmudgeonly grandfather in the tourist town of Bayport is hardly glamorous, but she enjoys running the Cool Down Café at the fitness and racket club. After a club patron is murdered, Val cooks up a scheme to find the killer who framed her best friend. While she investigates five suspects and uncovers five key clues, Granddad takes up cooking, creating havoc in the kitchen even when trying recipes that have only five ingredients. But kitchen disasters are the least of Val's problems. But by dredging for secrets in the small, waterside town of Bayport, she may be digging her own grave.

Tortie Shorties
Book reviews that are short and sweet...just like Truffles!

This first book in Maya Corrigan's Five-Ingredient Mystery series is a mouth-watering delight for fans of culinary cozies. The protagonist is Val Deniston, a cookbook publicist who has sought refuge in the Chesapeake Bay area following a devastating car accident that injured a celebrity chef. Now she works at a fitness club snack bar while planning to write a cookbook of her own. One of the club's patrons, Nadia, plans to hire Val to cater an event, but when Val shows up for their appointment she finds Nadia dead, stabbed through the neck with a wooden tennis racket. The main suspect is Val's cousin Monique, whose husband had an affair with Nadia.

The highlight of this book for me was Val's Granddad who is learning how to cook by using Val's five ingredient recipes. There is a scene in the beginning of the book where he attempts to bake a rum cake that had me laughing so hard I was crying. The reason why he is suddenly so determined to learn to cook took me completely by surprise, and guarantees that his adventures in the kitchen will continue. 

A variety of suspects had me guessing until the very end, and with a touch of romance in the air as well this is definitely a new series to add to your reading list. I already can't wait for Scam Chowder in June to see what kind of trouble Granddad gets into next!


skkorman said...

Sounds like a good read—thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!

skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Melissa! Congrats, Maya! Hugs, Truffles!

patucker54 at aol dot com

Anne said...

I'm a sucker for cozy titles and how they play on words. Scam Chowder would be guaranteed to have me pick up or click on the book to read more.

NoraA said...

Five ingredients is the minimum in my cooking, not the max. LOL I think I'm going to like this book and hope I'm your lucky winner.


petite said...

This book sounds unique and special. Thanks. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

traveler said...

This cozy is captivating. Many thanks for this feature and giveaway. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Unknown said...

I think we will all benefit from you resurrecting that original story.
I look forward to reading it.
libbydodd at comcast dot net

Deanna Stevens said...

Gramps sounds like my kind of cook.l love that title..
dkstevensne AT outlook DOTcom

Sue said...

I think Gramps will be a perfect cozy character.

Beth W said...

Granddad sounds like a fantastic character (and would be a great grandfather to have, or be). I can't wait to tuck into this one! :)

bethwade1 at gmail dot com

Carolyn Mulford said...

Great to have an intergenerational perspective between characters who clash but truly care for each other.

Karen B said...

Hmmm - grandpa is probably younger than I am! He's sounds like a hoot and the book sounds terrific.

kiki w said...

Sounds like a great cozy mystery.


Maya Corrigan said...

Thank you to everyone who commented and to Melissa for hosting me on her blog and giving me a chance to tell Granddad's story. --Maya

Carol M said...

This sounds really good! Thank you for the giveaway!

Barbara T. said...

I would rather read about cooking than do it. Bobbipad at

Heather62 said...

I love cooking mysteries!

M.A.D. said...

Mary DeBorde
zenrei57 at hotmail dot com

The 5-Ingredient idea is really neat!! And I think it is wonderful how Maryann's own father enjoyed cooking and would invite her for a meal he'd proudly prepared <3 My own dad was in the Navy WW2, and one of the very FEW dishes he knew how to make was the Navy's SOS (sh*t on a shingle - that's what they called it) lol BUT it was a delicious cream chipped beef served over hot buttered toast (butter, flour, milk, Armour chipped beef in a jar, and toast= 5 ingredients) and I LOVED it (still do, especially on a cold dreary day). Thank you for another cozy author post & giveaway!

Jen Frederick said...

I love food mysteries and this sounds like a great one. Thanks for the chance.