Monday, January 22, 2018

Review/Interview/Giveaway: Survival of the Fritters by Ginger Bolton

Emily Westhill runs the best donut shop in Fallingbrook, Wisconsin, alongside her retired police chief father-in-law and her tabby Deputy Donut. But after murder claims a favorite customer, Emily can’t rely on a sidekick to solve the crime—or stay alive.

If Emily has learned anything from her past as a 911 operator, it’s to stay calm during stressful situations. But that’s a tall order when one of her regulars, Georgia Treetor, goes missing. Georgia never skips morning cappuccinos with her knitting circle. Her pals fear the worst—especially Lois, a close friend who recently moved to town. As evening creeps in, Emily and the ladies search for Georgia at home. And they find her—murdered among a scattering of stale donuts . . .

Disturbingly, Georgia’s demise coincides with the five-year anniversary of her son’s murder, a case Emily’s late detective husband failed to solve before his own sudden death. With Lois hiding secrets and an innocent man’s life at stake, Emily’s forced to revisit painful memories on her quest for answers. Though someone’s alibi is full of holes, only a sprinkling of clues have been left behind. And if Emily can’t trace them back to a killer in time, her donut shop will end up permanently closed for business . . .

This was the first cozy mystery I read in 2018, and I can't help but think it might end up at the head of my top 10 list by the time the year is through.

Protagonist Emily Westhill is a character I immediately came to care about, a former 911 operator who had to give up her career following the murder of her police officer husband. She's now building a new life for herself as the co-owner of a donut shop that caters to cops, Deputy Donut, alongside her father-in-law (also the retired police chief) and the cutest little torbie you'll ever meet, Dep. Murder comes to their peaceful little world when knitting club member Georgia Treetor is found dead in her home, and the nephew of her best friend and Emily's neighbor Lois Unterlaw becomes the main suspect. Investigating comes second nature to Emily and it isn't long before she connects the dots to the murder of Georgia's son 5 years prior.

I loved everything about this mystery and found myself guessing until the very end. I found the secondary plot of Emily's complicated relationship with Detective Brent Fyne, her husband's former partner, to be riveting, and I can only hope they manage to see what is obvious to Dep (and readers). So excited to find out what comes next for these characters!

Mudpie purred with excitement when I told her she could ask Deputy Donut a pawful of questions. She hopes you enjoy the interview!

Welcome, Deputy Donut! Thank you so much for taking time to chat with me today. Could you start by telling us a little about yourself and how you came to live with Emily? 

Thank you, Mudpie, for inviting me to talk to you!

Emily and her really nice man, Alec, found me at a kitten rescue facility when I was just a baby. Alec was a detective. He took one look at the circles on my sides, said they looked like donuts, and named me Deputy Donut. Emily and Alec took me home. I was one lucky kitty! But Alec went away one night and never came back. I knew it was very sad, because Alec’s friend, another detective who is also a really nice man, came to tell Emily what happened to Alec. After that nice detective left, Emily cried and cried and hugged me tight. That was three years ago. I still miss Alec. Emily does too. At least we have each other.

You are the mascot of a donut shop, hence your name, and you're lucky enough to get to go to work with your mom every day! Please tell us about the cool ways she "catified" her office for you...

Excuse me, but I had the name first. I let Alec’s father and Emily borrow my name for their shop, well, really our shop. I don’t mind being called Dep, though.

Alec’s father—his name’s Tom, but the way—and Emily designed the office in one corner of our donut shop with windows on all four sides—big windows. They knew that I would like to look outside, but also that I would need to supervise what goes on in the kitchen and dining room.

Can you believe it? Some ill-informed folks in our town, Fallingbrook, Wisconsin, have decreed that pets are not clean enough to be in public kitchens and dining rooms. Not clean enough!?! Cats? Despite your name, you have to know how fastidious we are. Mudpie? That’s probably a joke, right?

Okay, back to my kitty playground. Emily and Tom made certain that I had comfy windowsills and the back of a couch to sit on while I peer out my windows. They also put in an electric fireplace to keep me warm and comfy. But the best part is my play space.

Emily and Tom are clever at building things, so they put catwalks all around the walls above the windows, just below the ceiling. They gave me staircases, ramps, and carpeted pillars to climb up and trot down. I have a BIG basket of toys on the floor of the room, but I also have lots of places to stash my favorite toys up on the catwalks. And tunnels! Did I tell you about the tunnels? I have lots of fun hiding in my tunnels or racing around the catwalks while Tom and Emily make those weird things that humans like to eat and drink. Donuts? Coffee? Give me a sardine, any time.

What's a typical day like for you?

Emily sets her alarm for five-fifteen. I have no idea why she bothers. Usually, I make sure she’s awake before her alarm makes that ruckus, but sometimes, just to show her who is actually boss, I sleep in. We both have breakfast, and then, if the weather’s nice, we walk to Deputy Donut. She makes me wear a leash and halter, and I put up with that, usually, but, you know, I’m the one who leads the way. If the weather isn’t nice, she puts me into a cat carrier and then into a car and drives me to work. Being inside a cat carrier is entirely beneath my dignity, and I make certain she knows how I feel about it. I should be riding on top of her head or on the dashboard. She stares so intently out the windshield that I should be in front of her face so I can see exactly what she’s seeing. We cats are very good at staring, don’t you agree?

At work, I spend my days in that nice room I just told you about. Emily, Tom, and sometimes their customers, come in to recharge their batteries by cuddling me and listening to me purr. I do like my job! After work, Emily and I go home to a nice dinner, and I help her organize our house and our life.

I must admit I'm a bit jealous of you because back at home you also discovered a fun way to visit your nice neighbor and score some extra treats. How did that come about?

It was the most amazing thing. I thought I knew my back yard perfectly. It’s walled in with smooth bricks, and there is absolutely no way out unless you can fly. I sniffed around the base of the wall and knew that it was also solid, except for this one kitty-sized cave that I liked to back into so I could watch bugs and other crawly things. Imagine my surprise when a new lady moved in behind our yard, and did some digging around (humans have a fancy name for it—“gardening”) and removed a stone in the rear of my cave. My cave became a tunnel into the new lady’s yard! I backed through it and tried to look pathetically underfed, which is hard when your human takes excellent care of you, but the new lady fell for it. She let me into her house, opened a can of sardines, and gave me one. After that, I visited her every night after work. I toured the inside of her house, just checking, you know, in case there were any other treats, and she always gave me a sardine. Then I went home to Emily. Yes, I’m a very clever kitty. But, all of us are, right? Mudpie, I recommend exploring even after you think you know all there is to know about a place. There’s no telling what fantastic things you might find.

What will readers find in the debut of the new mystery series you star in, Survival of the Fritters?

Thank you for understanding that we cats are always the stars. Readers will find a donut shop that caters to cops. Did I tell you that Tom used to be Fallingbrook’s police chief? Also, one of Emily’s best friends is a policewoman. I love the detective who was Alec’s friend, but Emily keeps her distance from him. He knows how to make me purr. But although he just started visiting Emily and me at home again, he never comes to Deputy Donut, so he’s obviously a little peculiar. But he’s not bad.

Mudpie, I hate to tell you this, and maybe you already know: there are bad people who hurt other people, like the bad person who made Alec never come back. A nice lady who came to Deputy Donut disappeared, and Emily had to figure out where she went and who made her disappear. Because our shop, the one named after me, is so popular, Emily was able to talk to lots of people and figure out who the bad person was. That person will never return to Deputy Donut. This pleases me.

Did I neglect to point out the fact that you're a tortie just like me??? (Technically you're a torbie, but still...) Do you use your tortitude to help Emily solve the mystery or just to get into mischief? 

I could help Emily solve the mystery if I wanted to, but I’m not sure that cats really get into mischief, even though people say we do. It’s just cattitude, and yours and mine is special, tortitude, as you say. In my case, it might be even more refined--torbitude.

Actually, I do help, but Emily doesn’t always recognize it. If someone I don’t like or don’t trust comes into Deputy Donut, I glare at them. Sometimes I puff myself up into a fierce ball of fur. And if they come into my special playroom, well, I might just go up to my catwalks and throw things, even my very favorite toys, at them. If Emily paid attention to my signals, she would know who the bad people are. But instead of doing that, she talks to people while they’re eating their donuts and drinking their coffee. Maybe she wants to distract them so they won’t notice that she didn’t give them any sardines.

Can you give us any clues as to what's next for you and Emily?

I would really like that nice detective to visit us at home more often, and maybe just stay with us, but Emily hasn’t figured out how wonderful that would be.

Meanwhile, Emily and Tom are making donuts for a wedding reception. The bride has a shop, Dressed to Kill, across the alley from Deputy Donut. Emily and Tom built a small plywood “wall” (anyone, even a human, can walk around it, so I don’t think it’s much of a wall.) They are going to hang donuts and crullers on dowels fastened to the wall, and the reception guests will help themselves. Can you believe this, Mudpie? Emily is not taking me to the reception! I’d like to go along. Removing all those donuts from the wall and batting them around the dance floor would be great fun, and maybe I could even try climbing on those dowels after all the donuts were removed. Now, that would be torbitude.

Thanks so much for the fun answers to my questions, Deputy Donut!

Thank you for talking to me, Mudpie. And I wouldn’t say this to many cats, but I’d like you to come visit me in my kitty playground at Deputy Donut. We could chase each other up to the catwalks and through the tunnels and back down. I’d even show you where to let go of my favorite catnip donut so that it lands smack dab on Emily’s keyboard. Then we could roll around on the keyboard. More tortitude.

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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. As members of the Amazon Associates affiliate program, if you click on our links and buy something Mudpie gets a little money for her piggy bank!


Mickey's Musings said...

This sounds like a really neat book.
Mum likes reading neat books :)
Purrs Georgia,Julie and JJ

Unknown said...

I love cost mysteries,especially when cats are involved! This is an excellent interview.Ilook forward to reading this book.

Unknown said...

Great interview, Mudpie! That sounds like such a good book, and I love the name Deputy Donut :)

Patricia T said...

This sounds like a must read...thanks, Melissa and Mudpie!

Anonymous said...

This does sound like a great cozy mystery.

The Menagerie Mom said...

I really can't wait to read this one. When I saw that adorable torbie on the cover, Mudpie, I knew you and your mom must have been so excited. Thank you for sharing this wonderful review with us, and for interviewing adorable Deputy Donut!

Sue said...

Mudpie--You and Deputy Donut have totally convinced me that I must read this book. It sounds really great!

Eastside Cats said...

So cute! Thanks for the book review, and interview! Dep is quite the character!

diannekc said...

Great review, Mudpie. Deputy Donut sounds like a really cool cat. Can't wait to read more about him and Emily.

Three Chatty Cats said...

Very high praise for this book - it sounds great! said...

Deputy donut!!!! I love it!! Wonderful review-and best titles ever!

pilch92 said...

Great interview. This sounds like a fun book.

Jana Leah B said...

My kitty would love all those staircases & ramps in the shop.