Series: Soup Lover's Mystery #4
Published by Berkley on 3/3/15
Genres: Cozy Mystery
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Also in this series: A Clue in the Stew
Also by this author: A Clue in the Stew
By the Spoonful is Snowflake, Vermont’s most popular soup shop, but owner Lucky Jamieson doesn’t have any time to enjoy her success—she’s too busy trying to keep a lid on false accusations against her loved ones…
It’s almost May, and some of the local ladies have organized a pagan celebration in the woods to welcome spring. But the evening goes terribly wrong when one of the attendees winds up dead, apparently poisoned by an herbal concoction prepared by Lucky’s grandfather, Jack.
Lucky’s sure her grandfather could not have made such a tragic mistake. But before she can clear him of suspicion, her best friend, Sophie, is diverted from planning her wedding to By the Spoonful chef Sage DuBois when she finds a dead man floating in the creek on her property. Now it’s up to Lucky to get both Sophie and Jack out of hot water before a killer stirs up more trouble…
I received a review copy of this book from .
I’m excited to have Connie Archer here today to talk about the setting of her Soup Lover’s Mysteries. Her newest book, Ladle to the Grave, comes out on Tuesday. Be sure you read to the bottom of the post – we’re giving away a paperback copy of the book!
A Guest Post by Connie Archer
I’ve been asked several times, why the Soup Lover’s Mystery series is set in Vermont. Well, there are lots of reasons, but the first thing that comes to mind is that it’s the perfect place for a village mystery. I grew up in New England and I can’t imagine a better location than Vermont, the most bucolic of all the New England states.
Vermont’s population numbers only 626,630, half the population of Rhode Island, the tiniest state in the union. It’s possible to drive the length of the state and encounter only a few cars on the highway. There are mountains, lakes, trees, barns, farms and quaint towns dotted everywhere. And even though my fictional Snowflake has a tiny population — only 950 souls – there are plenty of plots, adventures and stories to be told there.
But there’s an even deeper reason I think. Vermont represents something more elusive in our national consciousness, something much harder to pin down. And perhaps the best way to experience that fleeting something is to listen to some of the music that’s been written about that state.
The official state song, These Green Mountains, describes Vermont perfectly. http://bit.ly/1BLYvtN
These green hills and silver waters are my home.
They belong to me.
* * *
May they be strong and forever free . . .
And of course there’s the song Snow, sung in White Christmas. http://bit.ly/1wwh2Wg
Those glistening houses that seem to be built of snow,
Oh, to see a mountain covered with a quilt of snow
What is Christmas with no snow . . .
And then there are the historic songs of Vermont like the Ballad of the Green Mountain Boys, a Revolutionary War song. http://bit.ly/16ma9P5
. . . Vermonters, come down
With your britches of deerskin and jackets of brown
With your red woolen caps and your moccasins come
To the gathering summons of trumpet and drum.
* * *
We owe no allegiance, we bow to no throne,
Our ruler is law and the law is our own;
In the name of Vermont we defy all the world! . . .
But the song that tugs at my heart most of all is Moonlight in Vermont, a song reprised by more artists than I could possibly list here — from Jo Stafford to Tony Bennett to Willy Nelson. Moonlight in Vermont, [http://bit.ly/1zKSjfT] is truly the unofficial state song. Not only doesn’t it rhyme, it’s written in a series of haikus, a Japanese literary tradition of seventeen syllable verses. Interesting, no?
Pennies in a stream
Fallen leaves of sycamore
Moonlight in Vermont
* * *
Evening summer breeze
Warbling of a meadow lark
Moonlight in Vermont
* * *
You and I and moonlight in Vermont.
But a really special favorite of mine is These Green Mountains played on a theremin. If you’re not familiar with a theremin, it’s an early electronic instrument controlled by the performer’s hands, and was often used to create scary sounds in horror films.
Just have a listen: http://bit.ly/12OsNwX
How could I not set my fictional village of Snowflake in a state like Vermont?
Ladle to the Grave is a solidly-written, genuinely puzzling cozy mystery with a thoroughly likable and intelligent protagonist. Lucky Jamieson owns and runs a soup restaurant; she’s engaged to the doctor who runs the town’s clinic, and her grandfather’s best friend is the police chief, which gives her access to more information than most amateur detectives. (Though I usually balk at the police sharing information with civilians, in this series I buy it, both because the town is so small and because of the personal relationship between Lucky and the chief.) Lucky is pretty level-headed, very loyal to her friends, fiercely protective of her grandfather, and naturally curious but not usually foolhardy – a good combination.
Snowflake, Vermont, the book’s small-town setting, is populated by interesting yet realistic characters – by which I mean that they are the sort of people you might meet in any town, rather than the exaggerated eccentrics that proliferate in some cozy mystery series. Sophie, Lucky’s friend, plays a large role in this book, because one of the mysteries involves her at least peripherally. Lucky’s grandfather is involved in the other death – a possible accidental poisoning – and the stress is stirring up his PTSD. As protective as Leslie is, it’s no surprise that she tries to clear his name.
I really enjoyed how the mystery unfolded and the various twists that Connie Archer threw in. The solution to one death felt just a tad convenient, though it certainly came as a surprise – I honestly didn’t see it coming. The other I had begun to suspect, but not until well into the book (and I didn’t get it exactly right even then.) It’s always fun when the author can surprise me, because I’m usually pretty good at spotting the villain.
This is the fourth book in the series, and the second I’ve read, but you don’t have to read the first ones to appreciate Ladle to the Grave. The recurring characters’ lives and relationships do develop as the series goes on, but Archer does a good job of catching new readers up on the essentials without boring those who’ve already spent time in Snowflake. That said, if you enjoy reading a cozy series from start to finish, go for it! (You can find the whole series listed on Goodreads.) And be sure to check out the recipes at the end of the book – they sound delicious.
Thanks to the publisher, we’re giving away a paperback copy of Ladle to the Grave. (The contest is open to US residents only – I’m sorry! I gather it has to do with shipping.) Just enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Please make sure Rafflecopter has your current email address, or I won’t be able to contact you!
There’s also a giveaway for a $50 gift certificate at the main tour page – and you can check out the other tour stops there, as well!
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- COYER Winter 2014-2015
- Cruisin' Thru the Cozies 2015