A day in the life. One thing’s for sure about any given day in my life: I never really know what it will bring or exactly where I’ll end up. For me, every day is different.
I’m Penelope Sutherland, head chef and owner of Red Carpet Catering. My team of chefs and I cook behind the scenes on movie sets. We set up our kitchen in all kinds of places, from a sandy beach off the coast of Florida, to a boutique hotel undergoing renovations in lower Manhattan, to a small town in New Jersey right on the main drag. We cook all over, for lots of people every day the film we’re working on is being shot.
I have my dream job. I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing with my career. Cooking on a movie set is exciting, challenging, and exhausting all at the same time. The feeling of accomplishment that comes from keeping the cast and crew well fed and happy is my reward. Also it’s fun to see the actors at work, watching the scenes of a movie unfold with the cameras rolling. My best friend and roommate is lead actress, and she’s carrying most of the movie on her own this time. It’s a remake of The Turn of the Screw, although Arlena is nervous that Jennifer, our director, keeps changing the script day to day, bringing fresh rewrites to the actors. Arlena’s worried they’ve strayed too far from the book, and that maybe in trying to please the film’s producers back in LA, Jennifer is altering the original direction of the project mid-stream. It’s Jennifer’s first big-budget movie, and being a female director, she feels there’s more pressure on her to succeed. And a bigger price to pay if she fails, as in her career might be over.
On this set we get to work indoors for a change, cooking in a state-of-the-art kitchen in one of the best restaurants in the state of Indiana. And we’re enjoying our stay in the quaint inn across the courtyard. We’re in a small town at the edge of a large forest, which is beautiful but also acts as a barrier to the rest of the world. The locals whisper about troubling things happening in the woods, and sometimes they say people just up and disappear, swallowed up by the trees.
I’ve really enjoyed getting to know some of the people from Forrestville, especially Chef Jordan Foster, who has welcomed us into his kitchen and inn. He was recently named one of the best chefs in the state, which makes his untimely death all the more devastating. At first, it appears Jordan committed suicide, which doesn’t make much sense. He seemed to have the world at his feet: a loving family, a successful business, accolades, wealth, and lots of friends.
The police think someone working on the movie must be the killer. Things like murder just don’t happen in Forrestville, Indiana, where everyone knows their neighbors. When one of my chefs falls under suspicion, and the local sheriff won’t listen to reason, I have to step in to protect my friend and employee and try and find out who is really behind Jordan’s death. I just know it can’t be one of us, but getting the sheriff to come up with any other suspects is a challenge. Jordan’s family has asked me to take over the restaurant’s kitchen until they get back on their feet. When strange things start happening there, I begin to see there are secrets buried all over Forrestville, and the past is never really the past in a place where time seems to stand still.
You can read more about Penelope in Murder is the Main Course, the fourth book in the “Red Carpet Catering” mystery series.
Small Town. Big Secrets. Penelope and her Red Carpet Catering crew find themselves transported to a different world when they arrive on their newest movie set in rural Indiana. Surrounded by prickly locals, a nervous director out to prove herself, and a vast forest with secrets all its own, Penelope feels more homesick for the big city than ever before. When she finds their host, owner of Indiana’s newest culinary hotspot, dead of an apparent suicide, Penelope works to uncover the darker truths boiling beneath the surface of his seemingly perfect life.
Asked to help keep the late chef’s restaurant afloat, Penelope is fried trying to juggle two kitchens and a ravenous cast and crew. When the chef’s suicide turns out to be murder, and the restaurant is vandalized in the middle of the night, Penelope must find out who is behind it all before she’s the next one on the chopping block.
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About the author
Shawn Reilly Simmons is the author of the Red Carpet Catering mysteries published by Henery Press. Murder is the Main Course is the fourth book in the series. Shawn is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and the Crime Writers’ Association, and she serves on the Board of Malice Domestic. Shawn lives in Frederick, Maryland with her husband, son, and English Bulldog. For more info visit shawnreillysimmons.com or follow her on Facebook & Twitter at @ShawnRSimmons
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