About A Side of Murder
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series Publisher: Berkley (February 23, 2021)
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
Beautiful Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is known for seafood, sand, surf and now … murder.
Samantha Barnes was always a foodie. And when the CIA (that’s the Culinary Institute of America) came calling, she happily traded in Cape Cod for the Big Apple. But then the rising young chef’s clash with another chef (her ex!) boils over and goes viral. So when Sam inherits a house on the Cape and lands a job writing restaurant reviews, it seems like the perfect pairing. What could go wrong? Well, as it turns out, a lot.
The dilapidated house comes with an enormous puppy. Her new boss is, well, bossy. And the town’s harbor master is none other than her first love. Nonetheless, Sam’s looking forward to reviewing the Bayview Grill—and indeed the seafood chowder is divine. But the body in the pond outside the eatery was not on the menu. Sam is certain this is murder. But as she begins to stir the pot, is she creating a recipe for her own untimely demise?
“Cape Cod provides a stunning background for a debut that offers the ideal combination of mystery, romance, and recipes.” Kirkus Reviews
“An exquisite Cape Cod setting, a shamed but resilient chef, murderous secrets, and a long-buried but still steaming romance… Amy Pershing’s debut mystery will leave you longing for a seaside vacation, complete with fried clams and the next book in her charming series.” Lucy Burdette, national bestselling author of THE KEY LIME CRIME
“This is one of the freshest, funniest murder mysteries I’ve ever read. I fell absolutely in love with Samantha Barnes — the brave, sarcastic, crime-solving, relatable heroine we’ve all been waiting for. A Side of Murder is a rich, satisfying meal that delights from beginning to end, and Amy Pershing is a wonderful and clever author.” Elizabeth Gilbert, #1 New York Times bestselling author of EAT PRAY LOVE and CITY OF GIRLS
“A delicious mystery lovingly set in Cape Cod featuring a cast of charming characters. Amy Pershing writes with a fresh fun voice that will delight cozy fans. Chef turned restaurant critic Samantha Barnes proves a clever sleuth whose helpful cooking tips will be a big hit with culinary readers.” Krista Davis, New York Times bestselling author of the DOMESTIC DIVA mysteries
About Amy Pershing
Amy Pershing is a lifelong mystery lover and wordsmith who spent every summer of her childhood on Cape Cod. In her previous incarnations she was an assistant editor at Viking Penguin, a restaurant reviewer for Playbill magazine’s Restaurant Reporter, and a journalist at the Rome (Italy) Daily American before eventually going on to lead employee communications at a global bank. A few years ago (with the final college tuition bill paid), she waved goodbye to Wall Street in order to write full time (and spend more time sailing on Cape Cod!). A Side of Murder is the first book in the Cape Cod Foodie mystery series featuring Samantha Barnes, a disgraced but resilient ex-chef and the world’s most reluctant YouTube star. While Sam tries to balance her new job as the local paper’s “Cape Cod Foodie” with her complicated love life, a posse of just-slightly-odd friends, a falling-down house and a ginormous puppy, she also discovers a new talent – a propensity for falling over dead bodies … and for solving crime.
A Side of Murder by Amy Pershing is the debut of A Cape Code Foodie Mystery series. Samantha “Sam” Barnes is a chef who is returning home to Fair Harbor, Massachusetts. Sam’s professional and personal life in New York City derailed after a passerby posted a video on You-tube of an argument between Sam and her fiery tempered husband. When she learns she has inherited her Great-Aunt Ida’s home, Sam decides to head back to Cape Code temporarily. She gets a job at the Cape Cod Clarion writing restaurant reviews and food features. Her first assignment takes Sam and her friends to the Bayview Grille. After dinner, Sam takes a walk outside where she finds Estelle Kobolt dead in the water. The death is ruled accidental, but Sam’s instinct tells her it is murder. Sam decides to do a little digging on her own to see who wished Estelle dead. A Side of Murder is easy to read with mixed pacing. The author took the time to establish the setting of Fair Harbor in Cape Code. There are beautiful descriptions of the beach plus detailed word images of the food, Great-Aunt Ida’s house, and Diogi. We get to meet Sam’s childhood friends, Miles and Jenny along with the editor-in-chief of the Cape Cod Clarion, Krista Baker and Sam’s neighbor, Helene Greenberg. The mystery was straightforward with a couple of suspects, misdirection, and subtle clues. I would have liked more time devoted to the mystery and for it to be more complex. The whodunit is focused on more in the latter half of the book. My favorite phrase from A Side of Murder is, “Danger Will Robinson” when Krista charms Sam into taking the job at the paper. There is romance for Sam in the form of an old crush. They are attracted to each other and there is chemistry between them. A Side of Murder is a breezy cozy mystery with fine food, a cute canine, an insistent editor-in-chief, fun friends, a gone guzzler, a hunky harbormaster, and a beautiful beach.
“Okay, so here’s how it’s gonna go down.”
I looked sternly at my dining companions, who were eyeing me warily over the rims of their wine glasses. They were not used to me looking at them sternly.
“We order one meat, one vegetarian, one seafood and one pasta entree.”
“Pasta doesn’t count as vegetarian?”
That was Jenny, a mother of three with the body of a sixteen-year-old that she proudly claims is the result of her dedicated meat-and-potatoes-only diet. She was probably worried that I was going to make her order eggplant.
“No. Pasta doesn’t count as vegetarian,” I explained. “Some restaurants like to think it counts as vegetarian, but that’s how vegetarians get fat. That and too much cheese. No, a real vegetarian entrée is about vegetables. Maybe with grains or legumes, but the focus is on vegetables, like a ratatouille.”
“Sorry I asked,” Jenny muttered to Miles, who was sitting next to her and had been quietly entertaining himself by checking out the other patrons at the Bayview Grille. “What’s a legume anyway?” she asked him.
Miles looked at her like she’d just arrived from Mars. Miles is a farmer. What he doesn’t know about legumes isn’t worth knowing. “Beans, lentils, chickpeas, that kind of thing,” he said. “How do you not know that?”
Jenny shuddered. “I don’t eat ‘that kind of thing.’ ”
I tried to continue with their instructions. “Appetizers can be anything you like…”
“Well, hallelujah,” Miles said. He poked Jenny in the side with one massive elbow, almost knocking her off her chair. “I’d like that cutie pie over there at the bar.”
“Anything you like,” I repeated, “but it needs to make sense with your entrée.”
“I’m lost,” said Helene, running a ring-bejeweled hand through her mane of silver curls. Helene was Fair Haven’s new librarian. I’d known her exactly 24 hours and couldn’t imagine anyone less like a librarian.
“I’ve been eating out for 40 years,” she said, “and I never once worried if my appetizer made sense with my entrée. I don’t even know what that means.”
I sighed. Well, no one had ever said writing restaurant reviews for the Cape Cod Clarion was going to be easy. Actually, I reflected, that wasn’t true. I was the one who had said it would be easy.
I tried to clarify. “It means that if you’re having the hanger steak for your entrée…”
“That’s mine!” Jenny said, suddenly all in. “I call I claim the hanger steak.”
I call I claim? What is she, six?
“And a half dozen Wellfleet oysters to start,” she added.
Jenny always had oysters to start. And, as these were Wellfleet oysters, which are universally acknowledged to be the best on the Cape (and all Cape Cod oysters are awesome), I was surprised she wasn’t starting with a dozen.
“That’s fine,” I said. “A classic pairing.”
I turned back to Helene. “If, like Jenny, you’re having the hanger steak,” I explained, “you don’t want to order the barbeque sliders as a starter.”
She nodded thoughtfully. At least Helene was taking this seriously. But then she ruined it by saying, “Actually, barbeque followed by steak sounds yummy.”
I gave up.“I’ll order for all of you,” I announced. “And once we get our food and you’ve had a chance to taste and consider your choices, I will discretely exchange plates with each of you, one by one, and sample each dish. Then we’ll discretely switch back again. We’ll go clockwise around the table, starting with Helene.”
“I’m lost again,” Helene fake-whispered to Miles.
“Don’t you worry, honey,” he said. “Wait until she gets a glass or two of wine into her. Then we can do whatever we want.”
He grinned at me, looking exactly like the overgrown five-year-old he was. If five year olds had big, hairy lumberjack beards.
I began to worry for real. My dining companions were definitely not taking my first foray into restaurant reviewing seriously enough. And Miles was right about the two glasses of wine. I was a notoriously cheap date. But I was also the night’s designated driver, so no worries there.
“No wine for me,” I said firmly, more to myself than to Miles. “Even if it kills me.”
A poor choice of words, as it turned out.