What if you were not only suddenly jobless but also jilted just before your wedding? You'd probably do what Josie Callahan did, if you were lucky enough to have a supportive family. She returned to her childhood home and helped out at her aunt and uncle's Mexican restaurant. All was going along fairly smoothly until a dead body was discovered just outside the establishment. Can Josie use her reporter skills to find the killer before anyone else bites the dust?
"Josie!" Aunt Linda's high-pitched drawl soared like a heat-seeking missile up the wooden stairs from our restaurant below, through my quaint living room, and into my sweet but tiny bedroom.—Here Today, Gone Tamale by Rebecca Adler (Berkley Prime Crime, 2015, p. 1)
There are three things Aunt Linda and Uncle Eddie have in common with tamales: they're unpretentious, comforting, and fattening when consumed in excess.
- Setting: modern times; Broken Boot, Texas
- Circumstances: Josie, minus both her financé and her newspaper job, returns home to work in her aunt and uncle's Tex-Mex restaurant, Milagro. When preparing for the annual Wild Wild West Festival, a major tourist draw, a local artist is found murdered just outside the restaurant. After the police arrest Milagro's newest waiter, Josie, sure the killer is still on the loose, uses all her journalism skills to try discover the true villain.
- Characters: Josie, an ex-reporter now waitress; Lenny, her dog; Uncle Eddie and Aunt Linda, who took Josie in after she was orphaned; Senora Mari, Eddie's mother; Ryan, Josie's childhood friend and potential new love interest; Brooks, Josie's ex-boyfriend; various customers, tourists, townspeople, and police officers
- Genre: culinary cozy mystery
- The good: First, I really like Josie: she has some spunk and intelligence and clearly loves her family. The plot was well developed, with red herrings and plenty of suspects, and the ending made sense. Here Today, Gone Tamale has everything you want in a cozy, with its likable characters, touch of family drama, and cute dog. And, of course, there is the food. Yeah, I was craving all things Mexican when I was reading the book.
- The not so good: At the very beginning, I had a little trouble getting all the characters straight because the action quickly turns to a community event. But once I got to know the people of Broken Boot, I got caught up in the story and wanted to know who was doing the killing and why.
- Things to know: This is the first in a new series, which means you can start in on the ground floor. The back of the book has a few Tex-Mex recipes to help you cope with your food cravings!
Thanks to the nice people at Penguin Random House, I'm happy to be able to offer one of my readers with a U.S. mailing address a copy of Rebecca Adler's Here Today, Gone Tamale. All you have to do to be entered for a chance to win is to fill out the following form. I'll pick a winner, via a random number generator, on December 21. Once the winner has been confirmed and I've passed the name and address along to the publisher, I'll erase all personal information from my computer. Good luck!