Hi. My name is Charlotte Bessette. I’m a cheese shop owner in Providence, Ohio, raised by my first-generation French grandparents, Grandpère Etienne [Pépère] and Grandmère Bernadette in the thriving tourist town of Providence, Ohio. Up until recently, my grandparents owned Fromagerie Bessette—what the locals call The Cheese Shop. However, when my grandfather wanted to “retire,” he bequeathed the shop to my cousin Matthew and myself. Fromagerie Bessette has become a must-stop for people traveling in the area.
With Matthew’s help, I have brought the shop into the modern age – you know, creating a web site, offering artisanal cheeses, and selling cheese accompaniments like basil pesto, honey, and jams. In the past year or so, I’ve been adding freshly made gourmet quiches and sandwiches to the menu. In addition to my wonderful rescue cat Rags, my cousin and his twin pre-teen daughters live with me in my Victorian home, just north of town. It’s a long story. Suffice it to say, they needed a home. I love to bake with the twins, teach them crafts, and read with them at night. They are adorable.
My day starts early. Most often, I rise before the cock crows. I walk the pets, make breakfast, drive the girls to school, after which I hurry to work. At the shop, I open the register, collect fresh herbs from the garden behind the shop (a co-op that the whole town may use), and I start baking a number of quiches and assembling sandwiches. After that, I stock the cheese case and determine what cheese we will offer as samples on our tasting counter. Have you ever tasted a Roaring 40’s blue or Rogue River blue? How about Fromagier d’ Affinois or a double cream Gouda? Delicious.
During the day, tons of tourists and locals browse the wares in the shop. My coltish assistant, Rebecca, and I serve them. Matthew, who used to be a sommelier, runs the wine annex, which is attached to the shop. Often we throw tasting parties of cheese and wine. When the day is done, and when I’m not in charge of dinner for the twins, I join girlfriends for a cocktail at the local tavern or we attend yoga classes and self-defense classes. At home, I read mysteries and watch the Food network channel. And I’ve got my eye on a certain mysterious cheese farmer in town. We’ll have to see how that relationship pans out.
Last but not least, ever since my grandmother was accused of murder, I have made it my business to know what is going on around town. Thankfully, my assistant and family members are capable of holding down the fort if I have to leave the shop for, say, a bit of fact finding. The chief of police thinks I’m a snoop. I’m not, though perhaps I am too curious for my own good.
What would you do? You wouldn’t sit idle, would you? Not when justice isn’t being served.
You can read more about Charlotte in Lost and Fondue, the second book in the “Cheese Shop” mystery series. The first book in the series is The Long Quiche Goodbye.
The life and times of Charlotte Bessette is written by Avery Aames who is the pseudonym for Daryl Wood Gerber. As Avery, she writes A Cheese Shop Mystery Series, the first of which, “The Long Quiche Goodbye”, won the Agatha Award for best first novel. The series is set in idyllic Holmes County, Ohio, and features Charlotte Bessette, a feisty cheese shop owner with a colorful extended family. Daryl has also had short stories published and she created the format for the successful TV series “Out of this World” that ran for four years in first-run syndication. Daryl podcasts some of her suspense/thriller work on her website.
She is a member of Sisters in Crime, its internet group Guppies, Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, and the International Thriller Writers Association. Prior to writing, Daryl was an actress in Los Angeles. A fun tidbit for mystery buffs: she co-starred on the popular series, “Murder, She Wrote” and “Matlock.” Daryl graduated from Stanford University. She enjoys golfing, swimming, photography, gardening, gourmet cooking, and has been known to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. She has been happily married for over twenty-five years and has a grown son who has flown the coop.
Visit Avery’s website at www.averyaames.com
Books are available at retail and online booksellers.