Chedder Off DeadYou met Lilah Drake on this blog back in October, when The Big Chili came out. Now, as Cheddar Off Dead hits shelves on Sept 6, I’m providing some new, updated information about Lilah. I hope it makes you want to read the second in this series!

I’m Lilah Drake. A typical day for me starts early in the morning, when I get up to let out my dog, Mick, and start looking over my kitchen schedule for the day. I try to make dishes for my secret clients (what my father calls my Undercover Dish business) before I head over to Haven of Pine Haven, my new employer.

I was very excited to get the job at Haven, which is considered the best catering company in town. The owners, Esther and Jim Reynolds, have become my good friends, and I’ve learned a great deal while in their employ, not only about food, but about staying calm under pressure. Jim and Esther make it look easy, and their business, which has lovely living quarters in the back, has truly become a haven for me.

The holidays are approaching, so I’m hoping to schedule some time to spend with my parents, who are both Pine Haven Realtors, and with my brother Cameron, who lives in Chicago with his smart and beautiful girlfriend Serafina. Mick and I will probably make the rounds this holiday, and my mom and I have a traditional day on which we make Christmas cookies together. We’ll invite Serafina this year and she’ll show up looking amazing, as always, and will hopefully teach us how to make some Italian recipes.

I’m excited about the holidays for the most part. I have very little free time, so I don’t have much leisure to contemplate my recent failed relationship with Detective Jay Parker of the Pine Haven Police Department. I try to focus on the future, and not on Parker’s remarkable blue eyes or his handsome face or his enthusiasm for all of my culinary creations. Sometimes things just don’t work out, right?

Meanwhile, I am planning something wonderful! My best friend, Jenny Braidwell, has become one of my paid clients. She has hired me to make two big trays of Mac and Cheese, Lilah style, for her third grade class as part of the lunch buffet at their school Christmas party. Miss Braidwell has “made” this dish before, and she is beloved for it at Kennedy School. Sure, sometimes it’s a bummer that other people get the credit for the food I make, but this is just a temporary job. I have high hopes that my own business and my Haven experience will lead to bigger and better things in the future.

I should also mention that I always have a song in my head, and it tends to be a harbinger of my mood. I’m focused on positive things and looking forward to the New Year. So why is it that Blue Christmas keeps floating around in my mind?

I refuse to give in to gloomy thoughts! My visit to Jenny’s school is going to cheer me up. The kids will love the mac and cheese, and Jenny said there’s even going to be a “Christmas clown” and a genuine Santa Claus to perform and give presents to the children. If Santa can’t lift my mood, no one can!

I’m determined that this will be a good Christmas, and just the beginning of the big things in my future.

Cheddar Off Dead is the second book in the Undercover Dish mystery series, published by Penguin Random House, September 2016.

Caterer and cook Lilah Drake is up to her elbows in deadly trouble in the latest mystery from the author of The Big Chili. . .

The Christmas holidays are one of Lilah’s favorite times of the year, filled with friends, family, and, of course, tons of food orders for her covered dish clients. But Lilah’s Yuletide cheer ends when she sees a most Grinch-like crime: the murder of a Santa in a school parking lot.

It turns out the deceased Kris Kringle was a complicated tangle of naughty and nice, with a long list of people who might have wanted him dead. And whoever did the deed wants to make sure that Lilah keeps quiet. Now, Lilah will have to team up with her former fling, Detective Jay Parker, to unwrap the mysteries of a deadly Christmas killer and stay alive long enough to ring in the New Year. . .

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About the author
Julia Buckley is a Chicago area writer. Read more about her two cozy mystery series at

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Cheddar Off Dead. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end September 9, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!

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