When my widowed grandfather brought a fondue pot down from the attic, it was as if he conjured a spirit from the past. The spirit felt right at home in Granddad’s Victorian house, especially this weekend when our Chesapeake Bay town is celebrating the 300th anniversary of its founding. So many tourists are coming for the town’s festival that anyone with extra bedrooms is taking in boarders. Granddad rented three spare rooms and my bedroom, forcing me to bunk elsewhere for the weekend, though he insisted I come back in the morning to cook breakfast for his guests.
He writes a recipe column for the local newspaper, calling himself the Codger Cook, but he rarely cooks. Today, though, he’s making a welcome snack for his paying guests—chocolate fondue. He told me it would serve as an icebreaker, as it had at the 1970s fondue parties he and Grandma had given. As he was melting chocolate, the phone rang. My former boss called to offer me the job I’d left under a cloud eight months before. Though I love living in Bayport, the chance to return to Manhattan tempted me. I wanted to redeem my reputation as a cookbook publicist—a reputation trashed by a celebrity chef who unfairly blamed me for the accident that sent him to the hospital. But going back meant I would have to leave behind the café I manage, the friends I’d made there, and Gunnar, the man I was seeing. I put off the decision until the weekend was over. So while Granddad was making a dish from the past, my past was tugging at me.
His guests seemed at first to be future-oriented. They’d come to town not only for the festivities, but also to plan a wedding. The would-be bride, best man, maid of honor, and a bridesmaid had reserved rooms in our house. The groom stayed at his parents’ bayfront estate to which they hadn’t invited his fiancée. Unfortunately, the fondue didn’t serve as the icebreaker Granddad had hoped. As we sat around the table dipping fruit and cake into the pot, our guests were rather icy to each other. Not even warm chocolate could melt them. I got the impression that an incident from the past was eating at them.
After the festival’s opening ceremonies this evening, I ran into the celebrity chef who’d forced me out of my job. He harangued me for ruining his life. In his twisted mind, I was to blame for every bad thing that happened to him lately, including losing his restaurant and his publishing contract. Seeing him here rattled me. Why would a famous chef come to a small town like Bayport? Possibly to get revenge on me.
Late tonight, in Granddad’s backyard, I stumbled over the body of one of his guests—the bridesmaid. The bride and I were about the same size as the dead woman, and we’d all worn the same souvenir hat. In the dark the bridesmaid could have been mistaken for either of us. And a killer who made a mistake the first time might try again.
Final Fondue is the third book in the Five-Ingredient mystery series, published by Kensington, June 2016.
Val Deniston certainly has her plate full running a café, dabbling with recipes, and helping her grandfather prepare for the town’s upcoming tri-centennial celebration, but she’s grown fond of her new life in the Chesapeake Bay town of Bayport. . .
So when Val is asked to reclaim her old position as a cookbook publicist in New York City, she puts off her decision in order to help her grandfather perfect his chocolate fondue for the weekend festivity’s dessert cook-off. But after the opening ceremonies, Val finds a houseguest strangled to death in her grandfather’s backyard. She suspects a classic case of mistaken identity, especially when another guest nearly bids her life a fondue farewell. Now it’s up to Val to keep the killer from making another stab at murder . . .
Includes 6 five-ingredient recipes!
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About the author
Maya Corrigan lives near Washington, D.C., within easy driving distance of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the setting for her Five-Ingredient Mysteries: By Cook or by Crook, Scam Chowder, and Final Fondue. She has taught courses in writing, detective fiction, and American literature at Georgetown University and NOVA community college. She won the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence and the New England Readers’ Award in unpublished Mystery and Suspense, Her website features trivia and quizzes on mysteries.
Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Final Fondue. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end July 3, 2016 at 12 AM EST. Good luck everyone!
All comments are welcomed.