Hi, my name’s Rita Lafitte. For those who don’t know me, I’m officially into my forties, recently divorced, and living with my teenage daughter in a cramped but cute adobe casita in Santa Fe, New Mexico. My situation’s not exactly ideal. However, I’m delighted to be rid of my ex, Manny Martin, a philandering policeman. Better yet, I love my adopted hometown of Santa Fe and especially my job cooking up regional delicacies at Tres Amigas Café.
Manny, a native New Mexican, claims I’ll never master authentic chiles, salsas, and sopapillas. See, I was born in the Midwest. My family favors comforting casseroles and Jell-O concoctions, the latter of which may include such startling additions as cheese cubes and celery chunks. This heritage, according to my ex, makes me incapable of ever mastering the deep-red, smoky chile sauce of carne adovada or frying up perfect, cheese-filled chiles rellenos.
I’ll admit, there has been a steep learning curve at times, but I have an advantage. I have a culinary master as a teacher: my friend and boss, Flori. Flori has also changed my image of life after eighty, as has the local Senior Center where Flori takes classes in deadly tai chi and swordplay. No calm knitting and card games for these seniors, especially Flori, who’s also an unstoppable amateur sleuth and world-class gossip collector. I end up sleuthing a lot too, though unlike Flori I’d be happy to stop. If only I didn’t keep finding bodies.
First there was my beloved landlord, Victor, a renowned folk artist and legendary cookie maker, found shot in front of his Day of the Dead altar. The police thought he committed suicide. It certainly looked like suicide, until Flori and I started stirring up suspects. That adventure coincided with undercover bread snooping for Flori. At the time, she was getting ready for Santa Fe’s Day of the Dead baking contest. The most prestigious prize goes to the top-ranked pan de muerto, or bread of the dead. I did my part by taste-testing Flori’s wonderful sugar-coated loaves and by sniffing out a possible cheater.
Then there’s the present problem. More than a problem. Cinco de Mayo is fast approaching and instead of festivities, we’re caught up in mayhem. It all started with a food-cart battle between Flori’s eldest daughter, Linda, and a bully French chef. Linda is a fixture on Santa Fe’s central plaza, where she sells her delicious, homemade tamales. That is until the other day, when a star chef and common bully named Napoleon chased her off.
Worse, we think he planted a tainted tamale to get Linda shut down. Worse yet? He ended up dead under Linda’s cart, making her a prime suspect. I won’t go into too many details, but you can imagine how upset Flori is. She won’t stop investigating until Linda’s cleared and the real killer’s caught. Neither will I.
On a more pleasant—but also somewhat stressful—note, I’m fixing dinner at my casita this Friday for hunky lawyer Jake Strong. Flori is thrilled. She advises me to flirt heavily. “Bat your eyelashes,” she says. “Pinch his butt.”
I won’t be doing either of those! I’d tried to institute a one-year, post-divorce dating moratorium, but the handsome lawyer keeps being so nice, and I couldn’t stop myself from inviting him to dinner. Now what to serve? I’m considering a special Cinco de Mayo soufflé, but what if it flops? And what to do about dessert? Flori, predictably, recommends something flashy, the dessert equivalent of stiletto heels. I don’t want to appear too forward. What’s a dessert that says “let’s take our time”?
So that’s what I’m doing today. In between working here at Tres Amigas, I’ll be practicing my cheese and green chile soufflé recipe and stressing about date-appropriate desserts. That is, unless Flori has other ideas, which I fear she does. She’s in the kitchen right now, packing up a tote bag filled with snacks, pepper spray, and her favorite binoculars, the ones she claims are for birdwatching but are really for spying. Oops. . .she’s calling me now. Like it or not, I’d better get sleuthing.
Cinco de Mayhem is the second book in the Santa Fe Café mystery series, published by HarperCollins, March 2016.
Cinco de Mayo brings margaritas, guacamole—and murder—to the menu in the second Santa Fe Café Mystery.
Tres Amigas Café chef Rita Lafitte is whipping up green chile soufflés and chocolate cake to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and prepare for a romantic dinner date. If only her friend Linda, the daughter of Rita’s octogenarian boss Flori, could get into the festive spirit. Linda’s humble food cart, Tía Tamales, is under siege from Crepe Empire, the hottest stand in Santa Fe, and its owner, a pompous star chef named Napoleon.
Linda confronts Napoleon in a public argument that leaves her dying from embarrassment. However, it’s Napoleon who ends up dead. When Linda discovers his body, stabbed and pinned beneath her tamale cart, she becomes the number-one suspect. Determined to prove Linda’s innocence, Rita investigates. From Napoleon’s disgruntled former employees to a shady health inspector, the list of suspects grows longer than Flori’s strings of dried chiles. And when another corpse surfaces, Rita must scramble to catch an elusive killer with an appetite for murder. . .
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Meet the author
Ann Myers loves cooking, crafts, and cozies and writes the Santa Fe Café Mysteries. The first book in the series, Bread of the Dead (2015), introduced café chef and reluctant amateur sleuth, Rita Lafitte. Rita and her friends stir up more trouble this year in Cinco de Mayhem (March 29, 2016) and Feliz Navidead (fall 2016). You can follow Ann at www.annmyersbooks.com and on Facebook.
Giveaway: Leave comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Cinco de Mayhem. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end April 6, 2016 at 12 AM EST. Good luck everyone!
All comments are welcomed.