- N. N. Light
Love, Death, and the Art of Cooking by @LindaGriffinA is a Mystery and Suspense Event pick #suspense
Title: Love, Death, and the Art of Cooking
Author: Linda Griffin
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Software engineer Reid Lucas loves to cook and has a history of falling in love with married women. When he leaves his complicated past in Chicago for a job in California, he runs into trouble and must call a virtual stranger to bail him out of jail.
Alyssa Knight, a tough street cop waiting for a church annulment from her passive-aggressive husband, is the roommate of the woman Reid calls for help, and she reluctantly provides bail for Reid.
He falls for her immediately, and cooking for her is an act of love. She just wants to be friends, but they keep ending up in bed together. When his boss is murdered, Reid is a suspect—or is he the intended target?
Reid arrived at Conavard Software a little early on Monday morning, but several people were ahead of him and busy on their phones or computers. He headed to the office he had begun to think of as his own and found Baird’s door closed, as it never was when he was in. Okay, points for arriving ahead of the boss.
His own office was tiny, but had a large window, a decent-sized desk, and an ergonomic chair. He hadn’t been working here long enough for it to be cluttered, but he did have a favorite coffee mug and a page-a-day calendar beside his computer. He left the door open because most of the others did. He was deep into trying to understand enough about polymers to communicate effectively with Velazquez Chemical, when Randy Goff came to lounge in his doorway.
Goff was tall and rangy, in his late thirties, and annoyingly cynical. “Hey, uh—” Goff had forgotten his name and was on the brink of saying something like “new guy,” but he let it go and asked, “What’s with Baird?”
“Not in yet, I guess.”
“No, his car’s in the garage.”
Reid shrugged. He was not his supervisor’s keeper.
Goff shrugged too and sauntered on toward the men’s room. Reid turned back to his computer, and ten seconds later Goff said, “Oh, shit!” very loudly and then, even louder, “Holyshit!”
A couple of other engineers hurried past his door, and Reid got up and went out in the hall to see what was going on. Goff emerged from the men’s room, his face oddly pale, and said, “Call 911.” While Reid hesitated, the other two were already on their phones as they hurried into the men’s room to see for themselves. He followed more slowly.
The first thing he saw, as he stared past the others, was a black shoe. Reluctantly he stepped farther inside. Baird’s wire-rim glasses lay on the floor beside his inert form, twisted out of shape and speckled with brown spots. A large reddish-brown stain spread around the short spiky blondish hair. His face was whiter than Goff’s had been, and his eyes were open, staring, and blank.
Goff was in a stall, throwing up.
Alyssa stood beside her patrol car, having just explained to a concerned citizen that the gun-toting evildoer she had reported was only a college professor with a furled black umbrella. She and her partner, Ty Hendrix, were laughing about the woman’s reaction when the call came in. “Knight, you’re wanted downtown.”
“Why?” she asked as she got into the car to comply.
“Suspect in Homicide says you’re his alibi.”
“Not unless I gave him a ticket,” she said. She didn’t have a clue what this was about.
Traffic was light, and they were at headquarters in minutes. She took the elevator up and strode into Homicide. She was frankly envious of the detectives here, with their big desks and bigger salaries and interesting and important cases. One of them glanced at her and pointed to an interview room.
She recognized him through the glass before she opened the door: Emerson Reid Lucas. “Now what did you do?” she asked.
He didn’t say anything, but she could tell he was glad to see her.
“You know this guy?” Detective Macias asked.
“Slightly,” Alyssa said. “What’s this about?”
“He claims he spent Saturday evening with you.”
“Yeah, part of it. My roommate and me. He’s her friend.”
“What part?” Macias asked. He picked up a pen.
“He was there when I got home about five and left—sevenish?” She looked to Reid for agreement. “My roommate can confirm. What’s this about?” she repeated. “He’s been in town like a week and he’s murdering people?”
Detective Macias rose, led her out of the interview room, and closed the door before he said anything. “His boss is dead. I kind of like him for it. He’s the newest employee and has a recent DUI, plus his name came up in a homicide in Chicago.”
“He was a suspect?” Alyssa was deeply surprised. Whatever else he was up to, she wouldn’t have imagined him a killer. Was this the real reason he had left Chicago?
“Person of interest.”
“So you think he’s a serial killer? Jeez, look at him.”
“I did. That’s exactly what serial killers look like. Human beings are by definition capable of murder. Trust me. Most of the time it’s the quiet ones.”
“Time of death?” she asked.
“M.E. thinks Saturday night, probably eight to midnight.”
“So, I didn’t help much,” she said. Had this been the point of cooking dinner for them? To establish an alibi?
“It’s a start,” Macias said. He asked for Jane’s name and number and wrote them in his notebook.
“Why would he kill his boss? You don’t come halfway across the country to take a job and kill your meal ticket.”
“Is he under arrest?”
“Good. I’m not bailing him out again.” The detective raised his eyebrows, and to derail a dangerous line of questioning, she asked, “Who else are you talking to?”
“The other employees—and the wife, of course.”
“He’s married? Lucas said he was just a kid.”
“Twenty-seven. He did look younger, but yeah, definitely married. She’s a looker, too. Dunno what a piece like that sees in these nerdy types.”
“Piece?” Alyssa repeated.
“Oh, sorry,” he said unrepentantly. “Lady. The grieving widow.” He rolled his eyes.
“Go easy on Lucas,” she suggested. “He didn’t skip out on the Chicago case, did he?” Surely, if he was a fugitive, he wouldn’t have used his own name.
“No, and apparently the husband did it, but it does raise questions when the same person is on the periphery of two murders in a short time. I don’t believe in coincidences.”
Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):
What makes your featured book a must-read?
Although it’s both romance and mystery, Vicky Burkholder found it “a balanced intertwining of the two” and Jan T “a fine piece of sleuthing.” Bobbi M. thought it “a great read to get lost in.” And then there’s all the delicious food!
N. N. Light butting in here for a moment. I just finished reading it and I found it an engrossing read, perfect for fans of Diane Mott Davidson.
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I retired as fiction librarian for the San Diego Public Library to spend more time on my writing. My stories have been published in numerous journals including Eclectica, Thema Literary Review, The Binnacle, Orbis, and The Nassau Review. Love, Death, and the Art of Cooking is my fourth novel from The Wild Rose Press, following Seventeen Days (2018), The Rebound Effect (2019), and Guilty Knowledge (2020).
Social Media Links:
Pinterest:https://www.pinterest.com/lgriffin08392487/love-death-and-the-art-of-cooking/ Some of Reid’s recipes can be found here.