Sunday, July 20, 2014

Diner Impossible by Terri L. Austin | Review and Recipe

I read a really good book recently, y'all  Diner Impossible, by Terri L. Austin, Book 3 in the Rose Strickland Mystery series.  Let me tell you a little about it.

Synopsis, from the author's website:

After shunning her overbearing parents’ wealthy lifestyle, waitress and part-time college student, Rose Strickland, is drawn back into their world when she tries to prove the impossible: the innocence of the town’s crooked police chief. He’s suspected in the gruesome death of Delia Cummings, his secretary and mistress, and all the evidence points to him.

While she tracks down clues with the aid of her anime-loving bestie, Rose’s pal, Axton, and his Klingon gang are feuding with their Starfleet rivals. Things get hairier than a pile of well-fed Tribbles, so Rose gets involved. In between interrogating Trekkies and quizzing socialites at high tea, she discovers the secrets Delia Cummings took to her grave. Suspects abound, but when Chief Mathers threatens to bring down Rose’s criminally mischievous and maybe boyfriend, Sullivan, she makes it her mission to find the real killer before Sullivan finds himself in prison.

Terri L. Austin's Rose Strickland Mystery books are getting better and better!  Each one has earned Five Kitties.  [I may have to add another Kitty to my Book Rating Scale.  What's better than WOW! Amazing! (that I can publish in my blog)?]   Click here for reviews of the other books in the series:  Diners, Dives & Dead Ends, Book 1 / Last Diner Standing, Book 2  / Diners Keepers, Losers Weepers, Book 3½ and one of three novellas in Heartache Motel.

There's a lot of action and interactions going on in Diner Impossible.  I love the inclusion of the Star Trek story line. (I've been a Star Trek fan since the beginning.)  Things are heating up between Rose and Sullivan. Requests from two most unlikely people draw Rose, ever so reluctantly, back into the wealthy lifestyle world.  

Rose's policeman nemesis, Officer Andre Thomas, "or as I liked to call him, Officer Hard Ass," asks Rose to uncover the truth about Delia Cummings' murder, because the police chief is his former mentor.
     "Do you think he did it?" I asked.
     He hesitated fro a moment. "I don't believe so. But I want to know what really happened. While your methods are unorthodox, you defy rules and laws, you surround yourself with oddballs, and you seem to know a lot of criminals—"
     "Hey," I said, rapping my knuckles on the table. "Is this going somewhere?"
     "You have a knack for uncovering the truth. I'm not a stupid man, Miss Strickland. I know Martin isn't a clean cop, but if he's innocent of murdering Delia, I don't want to see him railroaded. So I'm asking you to look into this...."

Barbara Strickland, Rose's mother, actually asks Rose (in her own special way) to help her friend:
[A long passage, but one that perfectly illustrates the Strickland mother — daughter dynamics.]  
     "Rosalyn, as you know, your father and I frown on your involvement with criminals." She paused and watched me, waiting. Maybe for an acknowledgement of some kind?
     I stared back, refusing to give her one.
     "These tedious situations you get yourself into are as disgusting as they are embarrassing. Most of your outrageous behavior has been kept out of the news, but word gets out. People know."       ....  
     She drummed her manicured fingernails — polished in a shade of frosty sand — on the desk. "Don't you have anything to say?' She sounded slightly exasperated.
     "Nope. You're doing fine on your own."
     A sigh slipped from between her lips. "The fact of the matter is, that while we find this behavior of yours abhorrent, your father and I are willing to overlook it. Just this once."
     The light bulb clicked on. Now I got it. She needed something from me. That was the only reason she'd been nice. No brain tumors involved. And Barbara Strickland had never asked me for a favor. This must be killing her.
     The power was almost heady.
     "My friend's husband is being maliciously defamed."
     "What friend?" I asked. "And what's being said about him?"
     She reached up and twisted the pearl stud in her earlobe. "People are saying he killed his secretary. It's nonsense, of course, but the gossip is hurting Annabelle."
     Hold up, now. This sounded familiar. A zing of excitement shot through my body. "Annabelle Mathers? Wife of police chief, Martin Mathers?"
     "Yes. She's being ostracized. She's already been kicked off the Library Board, now there's a question of whether she'll be able to participate in the Junior League Walkathon."
     I gasped. "Oh no, not the walkathon."
     Barbara narrowed her eyes. "This isn't funny. The Mathers' reputations are at stake, so please save the sarcasm. As I've said, this obsession you have with crime has been an embarrassment. The least you could do to make amends is help out poor Annabelle."

Unfortunately for Rose, in Barbara's mind this request means that she and Rose are now investigative partners.
     "What's our next step?" she asked.
     Her lips tightened.  "Yes, Rosalyn. We're in this together."

Even more unfortunately for Rose, as she and Barbara conduct their investigations, Rose keeps hearing from her mother's society friends 
     "...I didn't know Barbara had two daughters. I know Jacqueline, of course, but I don't remember hearing about you. Ever." 

To find out how Rose brokers peace between the Klingons and Starfleet, how she solves Delia's murder, and if she is able to work together with Barbara without going crazy, READ THE BOOK! 

One more quote, and a special treat:
      ...Sullivan left the room and returned five minutes later with food. He put the silver tray filled with cookies and a steaming mug on his desk.
     "Henry says he used blackstrap molasses. I don't know what the hell that means." He handed me the mug and offered me the plate of cookies.
     When I bit into the soft, gingery bit of yum, I slouched back in the chair with a groan. "These are amazing."
     Sullivan watched me with an amused gleam in his eyes. "I'll be sure to let him know."
I interviewed Rose Strickland as part of my Virtual Book Tour post for Heartache Motel, and requested Henry's recipe for these cookies (if they weren't family secrets).  Here is her response, reprinted from that post:

Well as you know, the closest I get to cooking is a heating up a cup of ramen noodles, but I’ve persuaded Henry to part with his famous gingerbread cookies. 
2 c. flour (1 c. all purpose, 1 c. pastry flour)
2 t. baking soda
2 t. ground ginger
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/8 t. ground cloves
½  t. ground nutmeg
¼ softened butter
¼ c. blackstrap molasses
1 c. sugar
1 large egg
1 egg white, beaten
Crystal sugar for coating

Combine flour, baking soda and spices. In a separate bowl, cream butter, molasses and sugar. Beat in the egg and add the dry ingredients. 

Cover and chill for at least four hours. Overnight is better.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two cookie sheets. (Henry uses slipmats, because he’s clever like that). Scoop out small bits of dough (about the size of a golf ball) and roll into a ball. Dip each ball into the egg white and place them two inches apart. Sprinkle with the crystal sugar and bake for ten to twelve minutes. 
If they turn out as well as Henry’s cookies—you’ll be in heaven.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Diner Impossible by Terri L. Austin, is a great read and highly recommended to all cozy mystery fans!

Note:  I received a complimentary review copy of Diner Impossible from the publisher, with no expectation of a positive review.