Eat, Drink and Drop Dead, a Tiffany Austin Food Blogger Mystery by Toni LoTempio
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Eat, Drink and Drop Dead (A Tiffany Austin Food Blogger Mystery)
A former chef gets mixed up in murder when she moves back to her Southern home town in the first Tiffany Austin food blogger mystery – a culinary cozy that will make your brain work and your stomach rumble! Food critic and blogger Tiffany Austin has the best job in the world: she gets to eat for a living.
At least, she hopes she has a job. Her trial period at Southern Style magazine is up – and rumors are swirling that management are making a choice between Tiffany and a rival columnist: the ambitious Jenny Lee Plumm. Former chef Tiffany knows she has a battle on her hands . . . but she didn’t realize it was to the death!
When her rival’s body is discovered after the two have a very public argument, Tiffany finds herself the prime suspect in a murder investigation. The lead detective might be very hot – but Tiffany’s definitely not ready to go down for a crime she didn’t commit. Ably assisted by Hilary, her best friend and partner in (non) crime, and bolstered by the unconditional love of her Siamese cat Lily and King Charles Cavalier puppy Cooper, Tiffany plunges into an investigation of her own.
After all, she has a degree from the CIA – the Culinary Institute of America – and she’s not afraid to use it. But can she find the real killer before she’s served up to the cops on a silver platter?
Eat, Drink and Drop Dead is a great pick for fans of delicious culinary cozies by Joanne Fluke, Lucy Burdette, Krista Davis and Jenn McKinlay – if you like smart, savvy female sleuths, twisty mysteries and delicious food, why not give it a try!
Eat, Drink and Drop Dead (A Tiffany Austin Food Blogger Mystery)
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series Setting – Georgia Severn House; Main edition (April 4, 2023)
Hardcover : 256 pages ISBN-10 : 1448310024 ISBN-13
978-1448310029 Digital ASIN
To purchase Eat, Drink and Drop Dead click any of the following links: Amazon – B&N – Google Play – Kobo – Bookshop.org
Read an excerpt:
“Well, all I can say is it’s a good thing Longo doesn’t know the real reason you left that hotel and New York. That way he can’t spill it to Jenny Lee.”
I threw up both hands. “She can’t ever find out. She’d manage to twist it all around and it would end up being a disaster of epic proportions, not only for me, but for Jeff.” I sighed. “I couldn’t do that to him.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll never tell.” Hilary mimed locking her lips and throwing away the key. Her gaze was pensive as she asked, “Have you ever wondered what might have happened if you’d stuck around. Told Jeff the truth?”
I folded my hands in front of me and looked her straight in the eye. “Actually, I have. More times than I can count. Bottom line, in retrospect, I probably should have done that, but I was much too naïve, and Leonardo too intimidating. Anyway, it’s all water under the bridge now. That ship has sailed, so to speak.”
“How do you know?”
I exhaled a deep breath. “Because I saw Jeff and Fiona’s engagement notice in the Sunday Times last week.”
Hilary’s hand shot out to cover mine. “Oh Tiff! I’m so sorry. Why didn’t you call me?”
“Hey, like I said. That ship has sailed. The good news is, there’s nothing more Leonardo could hold over my head. He got what he wanted. Me out of the way.” I fluffed out my napkin and laid it across my lap “Enough of this. Let’s eat, shall we?”
We ate in silence for the next few minutes. The tartlets were divine: buttery and fresh all in one bite. The Caesar salad was delicious too, the lettuce crisp, the dressing tangy. As I ate, I could feel myself calming down. Food always had that effect on me.
The server returned to collect our empty plates and then the main course rolled in. The garlic chicken was suburb, seasoned just right, succulent and tender. I stole a bit of Hilary’s fish stew and found that to be divine as well. I jotted notes on my phone in my lap as I went along. Three bites into the polenta, I reached down and undid the top button on my pants.
A different waiter sidled up to our table and placed shiny dessert menus in front of us. He was younger and seemed far more affable than the other man. “I don’t know,” I murmured. “I’m pretty stuffed.”
“Are you sure?” He pointed to a picture on the menu. “We have strawberry whipped cream pie in a graham cracker crust, and a delicious key lime cheesecake. We also have fried ice cream, chocolate, vanilla or pistachio, and the traditional favorite, flan. The flan’s on the light side,” he added with a wink.
Both Hilary and I groaned, and Hilary made a show of rubbing at her stomach. I smiled up at him. “Do they taste as good as they look?” I asked.
He leaned forward and said in a stage whisper, “Better.”
“Sold. I’ll take a slice of the strawberry cream pie and the cheesecake to go,” I said. I looked at Hilary. “What about you?”
Hilary passed her menu over to the waiter. “You’ve talked me into it. Make that two orders to go.”
The waiter gave us a knowing smile and withdrew. I took that opportunity to glance over at the table where Jenny Lee and Chef Longo had been seated. To my surprise, it was empty.
I got Hilary’s attention and inclined my head toward the empty table. “When did Chef Longo and the Dragon Lady leave?”
Hilary suppressed a chuckle. “When we were about halfway through the polenta. From the little I saw, they appeared to be engaged in an argument.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Really? That seems odd. I didn’t think Jenny Lee would deliberately alienate someone who could prove a possible ally.”
Hilary shrugged. “I mean, I could be wrong, but I don’t think so. Jenny Lee’s face looked like a thundercloud and Chef Longo’s not much better. They paused over there, by the bar. He laid his hand on her arm and she shook it off and marched away.”
I shook my head. “And you didn’t alert me? I would have liked to have witnessed that.”
“It all happened very fast. Jenny Lee marched off in one direction and Chef Longo in the other.”
“Curious. I didn’t think they’d known each other long enough to fight.”
“With Jenny Lee it only takes a nanosecond, you know that.” Hilary shot me a mischievous grin. “Maybe he made a pass at her and it wasn’t well received.”
I chuckled. “If anything, it was probably the other way around.”
The waiter returned with two large plastic bags. He set one in front of each of us, and then deposited the check square in the middle of the table. I picked it up, looked at it and let out a low whistle. “Good thing these review meals are comped to the magazine’s account,” I said. I whipped out my wallet and slid the company credit card into the case. “So much for the cheap part of the name. The meal was definitely pricey, but worth it.”
Hilary ran her hands along her curvy hips and let out a soft moan. “Man, I am so fat! I have got to lose ten pounds. It’s all your fault, you know. Have I mentioned that getting free food is one of the best parts of your job, and by extension, mine?”
I looked pointedly at the bag in Hilary’s hand. “You could have said no to the dessert goodie bag, you know.”
She sighed. “I know. I’m weak. No will power. So shoot me.”
“No thanks.” My gaze swept over her. “You’re not fat, you know no matter what you think. You’re curvy. There’s a difference.”
“Yeah? Tell that to Arleen.” Arleen was Hilary’s sister. The girls were total opposites. Hilary was five two, big chested and curvy, and Arleen was five ten, long wavy blonde hair and thin as a rail.
“Arleen is too fixated on appearance.”
Hilary pulled a face. “I guess she has to be.” Arleen wanted to be an actress and was a drama student at Mercer University. She’d recently gotten rave reviews for her portrayal of Blanche in the University production of Streetcar Named Desire.
“Exactly. She can look like a stick if she wants. But you, my friend, have substance.”
“Yeah, well, I’d still like it if I were about fifteen pounds less substantial.”
The waiter took the packet containing my card and returned in a few minutes to drop it back in front of me. I signed the slip, adding a generous tip, and then slid the card back in my wallet. I reached for my plastic bag. “Okay, time to go.”
We scraped back our chairs and headed for the lobby. “So what’s the verdict? Four stars? Five?” Hilary asked. “Personally, I’d give it six.”
“So would I.” I grinned at her. “But I’ll let you know definitely after I sample that cheesecake.”
We walked outside and I paused for a moment, taking in the beautiful Georgia evening. “It’s a perfect night, isn’t it,” I remarked. “No humidity, not a cloud in the sky—“
I stopped as the sound of angry voices reached our ears. I glanced over to my left and sucked in my breath. Jenny Lee Plumm stood there, her face like a thundercloud, her hands on her hips. She was engaged in a rather heated argument with a tall, swarthy looking man.
Hilary poked me in the ribs. “Oh, ho, maybe that’s the reason she dumped Longo. She was double-booking dates.”
I frowned at the couple. “He doesn’t look like her type, does he?”
“Heck no. This guy looks like a bouncer. See that bump on his nose? I bet it’s been broken a few times. Definitely not her type.” Hilary gave her head an emphatic shake. “She’s usually on the arm of a guy who could pass for a GQ model. He does seem familiar though,” she added, tapping at her chin. “But I can’t place him.”
A dark convertible suddenly screeched to a stop next to them. I was too far away to tell the make, but it looked expensive. A woman was driving it, but the scarf she wore wrapped around her head and the dark glasses made discerning her identity impossible. I expected the man to get in the passenger seat, so I was surprised when Jenny Lee opened the door. Before she hopped in, though, she raised her fist at the man. Her voice was loud enough so Hilary and I heard every word.
“You’ll be sorry, Roberto. Mark my words, you’ll pay!”
Jenny Lee slid into the passenger seat. She leaned over, whispered something to the driver, and then the convertible sped off like a rocket.
“Hah. It’s not me who’ll pay!” Roberto shouted into the wind. I started to turn away, but something made me look back. I bit back a gasp as I saw Roberto make a cutting motion across his throat, then turn on his heel and vanish into the night.
Excerpt from [Eat, Drink and Drop Dead] by Toni LoTempio. Copyright 2023 by Toni LoTempio. Reproduced with permission from Toni LoTempio. All rights reserved.
Toni LoTempio — Author of Eat, Drink and Drop Dead
While Toni Lotempio does not commit – or solve – murders in real life, she has no trouble doing it on paper. Her lifelong love of mysteries began early on when she was introduced to her first Nancy Drew mystery at age 10 – The Secret in the Old Attic.
She and her cat pen the Nick and Nora mystery series originally from Berkley Prime Crime and now with Beyond the Page Publishing.
They also write the Cat Rescue series from Crooked Lane and the Pet Shop series, originally published by Midnight Ink and rebranded last year as “Urban Tails Pet Shop Mysteries.”
Book six in the Nick and Nora mysteries, A PURR BEFORE DYING, is released this February from Beyond the Page.
There is also a new series, Tiffany Austin Food Blogger, coming out in April.
Visit all the Stops on the Tour!
April 5 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
April 5 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
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April 12 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
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