Guilty as Charred
A Cook-Off Mystery
by Devon Delaney
About the Book
3rd in Series
Kensington (June 25, 2019)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Digital ASIN: B07HVYY7KN
Sherry Oliveri has attained celebrity status after winning the America’s Good Taste Recipe Contest with her delectable New England Crab Cake Sliders. But now that she’s back home in Connecticut, she’s got to deal with something else fishy . . .
Sherry’s making a guest appearance on a local radio show when the news comes in: Poppy Robinson has been found dead in the town’s community garden. Sherry was supposed to be taking questions about her win in the national cooking competition, but instead the callers start dishing dirt.
Poppy and Sherry were both involved in the vegetable garden, and while Poppy may have been a bit priggish, it wasn’t anything that called for a shovel to the back of the head. There was already trouble brewing, with the owner of the land threatening to renege on their agreement, and this murder has taken tensions to a new level. Now while Sherry’s organizing a Fourth of July cook-off event, she’s also got a murder investigation on her plate . . .
Includes Recipes from Sherry’s Kitchen!
About the Author
Devon Delaney is a wife, mother of three, accomplished cooking contester, recent empty nester, and lifelong resident of the Northeast. She has been handsomely rewarded for her recipe innovation over the last twenty-plus years, including a full kitchen of major appliances, top cash prizes, and four trips to Disney World. She has also won the Grand Prize in a national writing contest for her “foodie” poem “Ode to Pork Passion.”
Check out Devon’s website at: www.devonpdelaney.com and find her on Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/devonpdelaney/
Guilty as Charred by Devon Delaney is the third A Cook-Off Mystery. Sherry Oliveri has just won America’s Good Taste Cook-off and is being interviewed by local radio host, Kaydan Bradshaw at WAUG. The interview is interrupted for breaking news that Poppy Robinson was found dead in Augustin Community Garden. Sherry recently joined the board of the community garden which Poppy ruled with an iron fist. There are rumors swirling about town that Poppy was considering selling the land that many in the community including the local food bank rely upon. Sherry wonders if that upset someone enough to take a shovel to Poppy’s noggin. The town wants to have a special Fourth of July and Amber Sherman suggests they hold a cook-off competition organized by Sherry. While managing her various part-time jobs, Sherry with the help of Madagan Brigitti begins organizing Augustin’s Star-Spangled Grill-off. Sherry had no intention of investigating Poppy’s death until she is contacted by Poppy’s sister, Tessa and then Mayor Obermeyer. Sherry begins making inquiries and uncovers some interesting information about Poppy and her family. Poppy’s killer does not appreciate Sherry’s digging and tries to dissuade her from asking further questions. Poppy is like a dog with a bone. She has no intention of giving up which inflames her killer. Will Poppy’s curiosity get her barbequed?
Excerpt from Chapter One
“Ma’am, sorry to wake you, but a fellow passenger would like a pillow from the overhead compartment and your trophy is resting on it. Would you mind if I pull the statue down from its comfy spot so I can get the pillow for her?”
Sherry’s eyes opened to the sight of a stewardess hovering over her. Before Sherry could respond to the question, the woman in the blue and gold uniform removed her hand from the storage bin and waved the shiny replica of the United States map mounted on a pedestal.
“Sure,” Sherry answered as she blinked the sleep haze from her eyes. A man seated across the aisle exclaimed, “Now that’s what I call a trophy.”
Sherry delivered a smile his way. Blushing, he elbowed the woman sporting a navel-orange-size knot of hair on the crown of her head seated beside him.
The woman gasped. “I recognize that trophy. You must be Sherry Oliveri. My husband and I were in the audience at the America’s Good Taste Cook-off and Sherry Oliveri was the name they called to receive that winning trophy. Such a fun name. I must say, even though you were sitting right there, I wouldn’t have known it was you. You don’t look familiar without your cooking apron on. Your hair looks different too. Not as stylishly coiffed as you wore it onstage.”
Sherry reached up to locate the direction her bedhead locks might have oriented themselves during her nap.
“We were so excited when our state won. And excited for you, too, of course. Can I get a picture with you? Herb, get up and take our picture, will you, please?” The woman jabbed Herb’s shoulder repeatedly with the tips of her fingers as if she were poking an avocado to test for ripeness. After Herb hauled himself out of his seat, the woman followed her husband out to the plane’s narrow aisle.
“Me too. I’d like a picture with the winner,” exclaimed a female voice in the neighboring row. She waved her hand frantically.
A man beside the waving woman catapulted out of his seat. The headphones he wore took flight and landed on one of the stewardess’s black flats. He scrambled to collect them and cozied up behind Herb in the increasing queue.
In the midst of shaking off her abbreviated nap hangover, Sherry was helped to her feet by the stewardess, who had taken the liberty of unfastening the seat belt that was the last line of defense against the gathering crowd. Sherry was handed her trophy and guided into the aisle, where she squeezed herself in amongst the bodies. She fidgeted with a snarl of hair that tumbled across her forehead, in hopes of detangling the mess, but gave up the effort when her fingers became ensnared.
She crouched down toward the line leader, whose arm stretched skyward to reach around Sherry’s shoulders. With Sherry’s back wedged painfully against the edge of another passenger’s seat, Herb clicked his phone’s camera. He pumped his arms in triumph.
“Perfect picture. Thank you so much. My wife had us fly all the way down to Florida to watch the cook-off, and we were so tickled one of our fellow Augustinians took home the grand prize. We’ve been following your cooking career for years. Herb McDonald’s the name, and the woman clutching you like you were the sole remaining slice of bacon at the hotel’s continental breakfast is my wife, Bea. Guess I should learn to be a better cook and she’d hold me that tight more often.”
“Herb, that’s enough. Sit down so Sherry can give her other fans a chance for a picture.”
While Guilty as Charred is the third installment in A Cook-Off Mystery series, it can be read alone. What has happened to Sherry in the first two books is summarized for new readers. Guilty as Charred is nicely written, has a good flow, and proceeds at a steady pace. Sherry Olivieri enjoys cooking and comes up with creative recipes for the amateur cook-off contests she enters. After winning America’s Good Taste Cook-off, Sherry is the town’s local celebrity. Augustin decides to take advantage of Sherry’s fame by having her organize a cook-off for Augustin’s Fourth of July celebration. They are hoping to attract more tourists to Augustin. Then Poppy Robinson is found dead in the Augustin’s Community Garden and Sherry is asked to quickly solve the case by various parties. There are multiple suspects along with a red herring or two. There are good clues to aid reads in solving the crime. The whodunit was multifaceted, and Sherry had to do a little digging to find the information she needed. There were some deadly threats and one was very unique. I wish it had been more of a challenge identifying the guilty party. Detective Ray Bease has a shadow in the form of Detective Cody Diamond. Detective Bease is forced to learn how to use a tablet and give up his ever ready paper pad. I was left with a couple of unanswered questions regarding the mystery at the end of the book. I prefer it when everything is wrapped up neatly to satisfy my curiosity. Sherry whips up some delicious dishes and needs to come up with a bacon focused recipe for an upcoming contest. She is also busy working at the Ruggery, taking care on the town’s newsletter, cataloguing seeds that are being mailed to her for use communal garden, planning the Fourth of July cook-off (patties are the theme), spending time with her friends, and going on dates with a new fellow. Guilty as Charred has appetizing cuisine, a technologically challenged detective, a panicked populace, toxic threats, a canine named Chutney, and one prying protagonist.
Guilty as Charred is available at Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Google Play, and IndieBound. The first two books in A Cook-Off Mystery series are Expiration Date and Final Roasting Place. To win a print copy of Guilty as Charred, click here to enter (link will take you to form) or enter via the Rafflecopter form below (sorry, but US residents only). Good Luck! Thank you for joining me today and I hope you have found a new book to read. Tomorrow I am showcasing Killer in the Carriage House by Sheila Connolly. I hope you have a beguiling day. Take care and Happy Reading!
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