A couple of months ago, I wrote about the joys and discomforts of switching sides and talking about my own books on the New Books Network rather than asking questions of other people. Here I’m back in my familiar chair, talking with G.P. Gottlieb about the latest of her Whipped and Sipped Mysteries, a fun contemporary series featuring the amateur detective Alene Baron and her police officer boyfriend, Frank, who solves murders for a living.
One thing I love about this series—in addition to the recipes at the end of each volume—is that Alene’s life inside and outside the café she owns are just as important to the story as the crime of the moment. For someone whose main preoccupations are taking care of her kids, her ailing father, and her employees, this seems very true to life. Murder is both horrifying and compelling, but for Alene solving one is at best a fascinating distraction—one that Frank and her family and friends often urge her to leave to the professionals. Read on—and listen to the interview—to find out more about Alene’s latest case.
As usual, the rest of this post comes from the New Books Network.
In Charred, the third of G.P. Gottlieb’s Whipped and Sipped Mysteries, her heroine, Alene Baron, has a lot on her mind. Chicago is in lockdown, a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, complicating Alene’s already hectic life. The vegan café she owns can serve only takeout, and her three kids complain constantly about school via Zoom and the near-absence of opportunities to interact with their friends. Alene’s ex-husband is, as ever, no help. Her aging father also requires assistance, a reality complicated when his usual caretaker falls ill with the virus. Alene struggles to find time even to visit the café, never mind bake. But with her livelihood at stake, she must keep showing up, no matter how many conflicting demands tug her in other directions.
On the up side, Alene’s romance with Frank, a police officer, is progressing—although they have yet to make the relationship permanent. And conflict among her staff members has eased, even though they still argue about the best approach to the pandemic and the homeless man who regularly stations himself outside the café and insults staff and customers as they go in and out, among other issues.
All that changes when Kofi, the boyfriend of a Whipped and Sipped staff member, stumbles over a charred corpse while searching for wood he can use in his artwork. Kofi’s girlfriend begs Alene not to involve the police, despite Alene’s protests that keeping secrets will undermine her relationship with Frank. Soon Alene has no choice but to find out what’s behind the mysterious death, even if it means delving into the long-buried secrets of her own family.