Hello from Lilah Drake by Julia Buckley

The Big ChillI always have a song in my head; my mind is like a jukebox, and I never know which tune is going to play next. When I was growing up, my parents used my song du jour to gauge my mood. If I told them it was “Wide Open Spaces,” or some other happy Dixie Chicks ditty from my adolescent years, they knew I was in a perky frame of mind. But if I was humming “Yesterday” or any of the Beatles’ more melancholy tunes, they sometimes felt the need to stage a cheerful intervention.

Today the song in my head happens to be “Lilah,” by Don Henley, which is the main reason my parents named me Lilah Drake—they thought the song was beautiful. I guess they think I’m beautiful, too, but they’re biased in my favor.

I live in Pine Haven, Illinois, and until recently I made my money working two part-time jobs. By day I worked in my parents’ real estate office, earning money to help support my true passion of cooking. I’ve developed all sorts of fun and easy covered dishes that work well at parties, and this is how I attracted my very particular clientele: people who are obligated to bring a covered dish to some event or other, but who don’t have the time or talent or inclination, so they hire me. I am essentially an undercover food creator, and my dishes have won me anonymous acclaim.

I can’t complain about my life, which is almost ideal. I have a wonderful canine companion named Mick, who always makes me feel that he’s listening when I talk to him. I live in a sweet little caretaker’s cottage behind the giant, expensive residence of Terry Randall, my landlord and friend, an Internet entrepreneur who makes money helping rich people buy things. I have loving parents and a protective older brother who teaches Italian to college kids in the city. Cameron and I both grew up loving Italian culture, but I’ve not been as big a fan since I broke up with Angelo, my boyfriend, a restaurateur and chef in Pine Haven. Angelo is beautiful and sexy, but my brother is fond of saying that men named for angels seem determined to prove they are the opposite.

But back to my secret cooking and the way it got me into trouble. Recently I made a pot of chili for a woman in the parish. We’ve had an arrangement for a long time; I make the chili, and she gets tons of praise from her friends at bingo night. This time was no different, or so it seemed, but one innocent pot of chili led to murder, and to a police investigation by a man with incredible blue eyes, and I was forced to decide whether I could maintain my anonymity (and my clientele) while still cooperating with the police and helping them find a murderer.

It’s a long story, and you can read it in The Big Chili, my memoir of the crazy events in Pine Haven on the night that a local woman was murdered before our eyes and the whole town was turned upside down with fear and suspicion. I only made it through those trying times with the staunch support of my family, my loyal dog Mick, my best friend Jenny Braidwell, her wonderful nephew Henry, and a few other people that I didn’t even realize were my friends until we endured the stress of uncertainty together.

It all started when I delivered one of my secret assignments, a casserole, to Ellie Parker, a woman I had befriended at a Tupperware Party. Walking through Ellie’s door that day sealed my fate in a number of ways . . . but that’s a story for another time. A story called The Big Chili.


You can read more about Lilah in The Big Chili, the first book in the NEW “Undercover Dish” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime.

About The Big Chili
Lilah Drake’s Covered Dish business discreetly provides the residents of Pine Haven, Illinois, with delicious, fresh-cooked meals they can claim they cooked themselves. But when one of her clandestine concoctions is used to poison a local woman, Lilah finds herself in a pot-load of trouble.

After dreaming for years of owning her own catering company, Lilah has made a start into the food world through her Covered Dish business, covertly cooking for her neighbors who don’t have the time or skill to do so themselves, and allowing them to claim her culinary creations as their own. While her clientele is strong, their continued happiness depends on no one finding out who’s really behind the apron.

So when someone drops dead at a church Bingo night moments after eating chili that Lilah made for a client, the anonymous chef finds herself getting stirred into a cauldron of secrets, lies, and murder—and going toe to toe with a very determined and very attractive detective. To keep her clients coming back and her business under wraps, Lilah will have to chop down the list of suspects fast, because this spicy killer has acquired a taste for homicide.

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GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on October 14 for the chance to win a print copy of The Big Chili. (US entries only, please.) Good luck everyone!

Meet the author
Julia Buckley is a Chicago mystery author whose career started in 2006 with the publication of The Dark Backward. Since then her work has appeared on Kindle in the Madeline Mann series and the novel The Ghosts Of Lovely Women.

She is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the Romance Writers of America, along with the Chicago Writer’s Association. In addition, she has worked with the same writer’s group since 2000.

Julia has taught high school English for twenty-six years; she lives near Chicago with her husband, two sons, four cats, and one beagle.

Visit Julia at www.juliabuckley.com, on Facebook and on Twitter

54 responses to “Hello from Lilah Drake by Julia Buckley

  1. Barbara Hawk

    it is wonderful to find friends to stick with you through thick and thin. This sounds great! Thanks for the chance!

  2. Oh wow…this sounds like a super duper great new book to read!! This is a new author for me and I can’t wait to read her new book!!!! Love, love, love the cute dog on the cover of the book!!!! Thanks so much dearest Dru for the chance to win!!!! God bless you sweetie!!!!

  3. I love “foodie” cozy mysteries. I will put this one on my wish list. Thanks for the giveaway!

  4. Doward Wilson

    Sounds like new series that I want to try. Thanks for the chance to win.

  5. Okay, so we woke up to the big chill this morning, and the banging and clanging of the boilers starting up and pushing steam through 4 buildings worth of pipes. I’m also a fan of chili so it all comes together. Toss my hat into the contest ring please Dru.

  6. This sounds like a great new series! I can imagine the trouble caused trying to pass off someone else’s cooking as your own never mind a murder as well. Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

  7. The Big Chili sounds like an awesome first book in the series! Thank you for the giveaway.
    myrifraf(at)gmail(dot)com

  8. Sounds like my kind of story!

  9. First book in a new series and I love covered dish recipes. Murder never sounded so delicious.

  10. What a truly fascinating title for a book … or for a nail polish color, for that matter. I would love to be on a team to choose these wonderful names! This one sounds perfect and makes me want to grab the book and start reading. Please!

  11. Sounds like a great book to a great new series. Cant wait to get a chance to read this one. Need to read more about blue eyes too. 😛

  12. Looking forward to checking out this new series! Thanks for the info from Lilah and the chance to win!

  13. Thanks for hosting Lilah, Dru, and thanks for visiting, everyone!

  14. Brian Frauenknecht

    I am hooked already. I can’t wait to read this. Thank you for the chance to win.

  15. Barbara Hackel

    Being from Illinois, born and raised 40 miles from Chicago, I always like stories about my state as they often contain details about areas I know. So when I saw this book was set in Illinois, I knew I would want to read it. Add in a undercover cook 😮 and it really gets interesting! Thanks Dru for the introduction to this new series. Thanks Julia and Dru for the chance to win a copy of the book! 🙂

  16. This looks like a great new series. I love cooking books and it should even be more interesting when it is incognito and involves murder.

  17. Looks like a great book, this is a new author to me.

  18. This sounds like a good start to a new series. Thanks for the chance to win!

  19. Foodie cozies are some of my favorites. This sounds like a wonderful new series to check out.

  20. I love foodie cozies and this sounds like a great start to a new series!

  21. Yum chili. My daughter is our official chili chef in our house. I will sure have to pick this book up so I can start this series. robeader53@yahoo.com

  22. Nancy Roessner

    Thanks for introducing us to a new author and series!

  23. This new series looks great, thanks for the chance to win a copy.

  24. So many good sounding new series as of late. Thanks for the giveaway!

  25. A closet caterer. What a clever idea.

  26. What a delightful new series which interests me. Thanks for this great giveaway.

  27. mary robinson

    Sounds like a fun new series. Thanks for a chance to win this fun book!

  28. I’m not a chili fan but the book sounds delicious!
    kpbarnett1941[at]aol.com

  29. Sounds like a great read.

  30. Sounds like a good book, although I hate it when a song you don’t want to hear gets stuck in your head! Thanks for the giveaway.

  31. Swish I could make a good pot of chili, maybe I should get in touch with Lilah. Love her name.

  32. Sounds great!

  33. sounds like a great new series, would love to win, ty for the chance

  34. elainehroberson

    Always looking for a new-to-me author to try. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

  35. Now this sounds like a good read. Love the name Lilah. Story sounds intriguing and the start of a great new series. Thanks for opportunity.

  36. I don’t often have a song in my head. When I do – it’s something pretty goofy.
    Sounds like a good story. Bingo and chili make a good pair.
    thanks.

  37. I love to read mysteries and especially books that are a series. I also love pets! The book sounds like it will be a fun and easy read of everyday like!!

  38. I love the cover, the dog really caught my eye, and a food mystery too, that’s a bonus. Love the food mysteries with animals.

  39. Thank you for the chance to win. This looks like a great book

  40. A new-to-me author–YAY! Looking forward to reading this. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of The Big Chili.

  41. Looks like a fun new series. A new to me author. Thanks

  42. Della Williamson

    New series, new author. Can’t wait to read, it looks really interesting

  43. Thanks, Dru and Lilah/Julia. Would love to win!

  44. Looks Like a great new cozy mystery.

  45. Sounds like a wonderful read. Added to my want to read list.

  46. Sounds like an interesting beginning for a new series. Can’t wait to read and find out more. Thanks for the chance to win.

  47. Barbara Landrum

    Looks like this will be a good series!

  48. The Big Chili sounds great. Thanks for a chance to enter.

  49. Hope I win.

  50. I love to read about food and murder.

  51. That dog on the cover makes me want to read this book. Thanks for the giveaway.
    suefarrell.farrell@gmail.com

  52. MaryAnn Forbes

    The Big Chili sounds like a great win! Thanks for the opportunity
    to win .📖📚

  53. contest is closed.