J.J. Cook writes award-winning, bestselling mystery fiction as themselves, Joyce and Jim Lavene, and Ellie Grant. They have written and published more than 70 novels for Harlequin, Berkley, Amazon, and Gallery Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. They live in rural North Carolina with their family. And I am very pleased that Joyce is here today to tell us about the research they for the book. (Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of the book.) Welcome Joyce.
Doing research for the Biscuit Bowl Food Truck Mysteries was both delicious, and amazing. We spent time with several food truck owners, shadowing them through their days. It’s incredible what they can do in such small spaces.
Food truck drivers get up early for the best spots. Getting there first can mean the difference between a good sales day, and a day where you don’t break even. So most people get up at four or five a.m. They usually get some of the food ready in a stationary kitchen before they leave for the day, like Zoe bakes her biscuits before she leaves her diner.
Inside a food truck, everything is very compact. Owners have to know where each item is so they can find it quickly and easily. They know they can be checked at any time by health inspectors so they have to be very careful with their refrigerators and cooking utensils. Sometimes the space in a food truck is at a premium, especially when there is more than one person working in the kitchen.
Most food trucks pick specific menus for each day. They don’t have enough space to change the food they’re making. If the menu says chicken salad, that’s probably what you’re going to get. But because they are only making chicken salad – wow! It’s the best!
Zoe picks one or two types of savory fillings for her biscuit bowls each day, and one or two types of sweet fillings. She can’t make exceptions because that’s all she has with her. Her biscuits are deep-fried and kept warm, but only in small batches. They will go soft quickly. She usually only carries one type of drink.
We tried to pattern Zoe and her Biscuit Bowl food truck on real-life food truck owners. Of course, Zoe’s life is fiction, so sometimes that shows up. We didn’t meet any food truck drivers that had large cats like Crème Brulee with them when they went out – although we did meet a few foodies who brought dogs with them.
Zoe is a hard worker, as are the food truck operators we met. For many of them, they are hopeful that their food truck is a stepping-stone to a restaurant. Not all feel that way. Many are just happy following their dreams, working for themselves with their favorite food.
Death on Eat Street (Biscuit Bowl Food Truck)
BRAND NEW SERIES
Series: Biscuit Bowl Food Truck (Book 1)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley (April 1, 2014)
E-Book ASIN: B00F9EZAUW
Zoe Chase always wanted to own her own restaurant—but first, she’ll have to serve up a heaping helping of meals on wheels, with a side of mystery. When she’s once again passed over for a promotion at work, Zoe decides to take the big leap and go for her dream. She quits, gives up her fancy digs, and buys a fixer-upper diner in a shady part of town. To keep above water during the renovation, she buys a used food truck to serve the downtown and waterfront of Mobile, Alabama. Zoe starts to dish out classic Southern food—but her specialty is her deep-fried biscuit bowls that blow traditional bread bowls away. After a promising start, things start to go downhill faster than a food truck without brakes. First, someone tries to rob the cash register. Next, Zoe is threatened by the owner of a competing food truck for taking their spot. And when the owner ends up dead inside Zoe’s rolling restaurant, Zoe and her sole employee, Ollie, find themselves hopping out of the frying pan into the fryer. They need to find the real killer, before both of them get burned.
I have only one complaint about this book. Well, two. It is going to cost me time and money. Time experimenting making biscuit bowls and money for the groceries. Oh yeah, there is a third thing. Listening to my husband complain about how good they are so please stop making them or he will have to spend half the day in the gym. In other words, I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! And my husband loves biscuit bowls. As a fan in real life of food trucks, I knew they would soon become part of a cozy series. And what a great start this food truck mystery is off to. Zoe is an appealing character. And all the secondary characters are interesting and you know you will want to see them all again. Most of all, it was a good mystery. I thought I had guessed the killer (and a pretty good twist if I do say so) but alas, or gladly, I was wrong. Bigger, better twist and better ending. From the wonderful cover to the recipe at the end, this is a solid ♥♥♥♥♥ and I can’t wait for the next in this new series.
March 31- Psychotic State Book Reviews – Review, Interview
April 1- fundinmental – Review
April 2- Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – Review
April 3- Brooke Blogs – Review
April 4- Beth’s Book Reviews – Review
April 5- Books-n-Kisses – Review, Interview
April 6- Steph The Bookworm – Review
April 7- Deal Sharing Aunt – Review
April 8- Thoughts in Progress – Interview
April 9- Mochas, Mysteries and Meows – Review, Interview
April 10- Community Bookstop – Review
April 11- Queen of All She Reads – Review, Guest Post
April 13-Cozy Up With Kathy – Review, Interview
April 14 – rantin’ ravin’ and reading – Review, Guest Post
April 15 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – Review
A Book Excerpt
It hadn’t been more than thirty minutes or so since I’d climbed out of the food truck. How did Terry get there after me? And what was he doing here? Had he followed me back to give me more grief over parking in “his spot” on Dauphin Street?
“What’s up out here, young ’un?” Ollie came out of the diner, still holding the sword.
“I don’t know. This is Terry.”
He nodded. “From the infamous tacky taco truck?”
“Yes. I don’t know what he’s doing here. I think he may be drunk or something.”
Ollie bent down and put his hand on Terry’s neck. “I don’t know either, but he ain’t goin’ no place else.”
“What do you mean? I can call him a taxi or something.”
“No, Zoe. You don’t get it. The man’s dead. A taxi won’t do him any good now.”
Dead? That made even less sense to me. Maybe I was too tired to think straight.
Why was Terry—alive or dead—in my food truck?
“We gotta hide him somewhere.” Ollie glanced around. “We gotta get rid of him before someone sees him here.”
“We can’t do that. We should call the police. That’s what you do when you find a dead body.”
“Oh? ’Cause you’ve got so much experience finding dead people?” He chuckled. “You better believe me, Zoe. You think you got trouble now, tell the police there’s a dead man in your food truck. You’ll be in for a heap more trouble.”
I knew he was wrong. If something had happened to Terry, regardless of how he got into the Biscuit Bowl, the police needed to be informed. If there was one thing I knew besides cooking, it was the law.
My mother was one of the most prominent attorneys in Mobile. There was even some talk of her getting a judgeship. She’d fed me the law with my pureed carrots and pears when I was a baby. She’d hoped I was going to follow in her footsteps someday.
I was kind of a disappointment in that area.
I took out my cell phone. “I’m sorry, Ollie. I have to call. If you’re worried about being here, you should go to back to the shelter. I can handle this.”
“I ain’t worried about me, Zoe. It’s you I’m concerned for. What do you think the police will make of you having a dead man in your vehicle?”
I thought about it. “What can they make of it? I didn’t do anything. Someone must have put him here. Or he climbed in and died. I’ll be fine. Don’t worry.”
Famous last words.