I need a motto. Everyone in Jewel Bay, Montana has one. Erin Murphy, my boss and the manager of Glacier Mercantile, aka the Merc, likes to say “If it’s made in Montana, it must be good.” Her sister, Chiara (say her name with a hard C and rhyme it with tiara), runs a co-op art gallery in the village and swears that “Art is an essential food group.” Fresca, their mother and one of the smartest, kindest, most beautiful women I’ve ever met, says simply “Shine.”
I love my job. To tell the truth, when Erin came back here a year ago to take over the Merc, I nearly quit. She was pretty bossy, and I thought that if Fresca didn’t want to keep running the place, she should have made me the manager.
But as usual, Fresca was right. Erin does a great job, and she’s a great boss. She’s found the best vendors for the Merc, providing organic local produce, milk, and cheese, huckleberries and morels, fresh eggs, and all variety of meat and poultry, both wild and ranch-grown. And it’s not all food—we carry locally made soap, pottery, and linens, too. She includes me in taste tests for new products and counts on me to design our displays. I’ve learned a lot about retail from watching her.
And she never met a festival she didn’t love. We’ve had the best time creating promotions for the village—I’m super excited about the Food Lovers’ Film Festival. Plus she asked me and Candy Divine to recreate classic movie candy.
Not that we always see eye-to-eye. Don’t tell her I said this, but she can be a bit of a food snob. Like a croissant or a pain au chocolat—sort of like a croissant, but with a chocolate bar baked inside—is actually any holier than a maple bar or a chocolate-covered, cream-filled donut. And I totally do not understand why a double latte is groovier than a Diet Coke.
Now, though, I’m thinking about a change. My boyfriend, Rick Bergstrom, thinks I should open my own shop, making chocolates. I’d get to be my own boss, and rely on my own taste. Set my own hours, choose my own products, keep my own profits. It sounds exciting, and he has tons of business experience for me to call on.
But Erin gave me my first chance to develop my talents as a chocolatier. Bozo, my Harlequin Great Dane, has been sick, and she lets me take off to take care of him any time. She’s even let me bring him to work when I have to, risking the wrath of the health department inspectors. She trusted me when nobody else did. And to tell the truth once more, after watching what she’s gone through the last year, I’m not sure I’m cut out to be the woman in charge.
Whether I stay at the Merc or go, I’ve found my motto: Will Work for Chocolate.
You can read more about Tracy in Butter Off Dead, the third book in the “Food Lovers’ Village” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first two books in the series are Death Al Dente and Crime Rib.
About Butter Off Dead
As the national bestselling Food Lovers’ Village mysteries continue, the merchants of Jewel Bay, Montana try to heat up chilly winter business with a new film festival. But their plans are sent reeling when a dangerous killer dims the lights on a local mover and shaker. . .
In an attempt to woo tourists to Jewel Bay and cheer up the townies, Erin Murphy, manager of the specialty local foods market known as the Merc, is organizing the First Annual Food Lovers’ Film Festival, popping with classic foodie flicks and local twists on favorite movie treats. But when her partner in planning, painter Christine Vandeberg, is found dead only days before the curtain rises, Erin suspects someone is attempting to stop the films from rolling.
To make matters worse, Nick—Erin’s brother and Christine’s beau—has top billing on the suspect list. Convinced her brother is innocent and determined that the show must go on, Erin must find who’s really to blame before Nick gets arrested or the festival gets shut down. And as the anniversary of Erin’s father’s death in a still-unsolved hit-and-run approaches, her own beau isn’t so keen on her leading role.
But the closer Erin gets to shining a spotlight on the killer, the more likely it becomes that she’ll be the next person cut from the program. . .
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on July 23 for the chance to win a print copy of Butter Off Dead. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected.
About the author
Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. She lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher.