Happy October (barely!) and welcome to newsletter number 3. We’re a little short on news this time around, but still counting down to the release of A Dismal Harvest (Marketplace Mystery #2) on March 15th. It’s already available on Edelweiss, so if you’re a reviewer you can request it there.
Also! Last week I made my first-ever radio appearance, on KSVY Sonoma. You can listen to it here; I’m on right after the sustainability coordinator.
And now, on to the plots. In the spirit of the season, they’re all very scary.
Ghost Kitchen (Culinary Horror)
After years of cooking in other people’s restaurants, Kyle Delgado has finally put together the money to open his own business. Granted, it’s delivery only, operating out of a shared prep space—known as a ghost kitchen—with a half dozen other culinary hopefuls, but with luck his gourmet chicken sandwiches and wings delivery service will be successful enough for him to turn Cluck You Up into the national chain he’s always dreamed of running. That’s the plan, anyway. But strange things have been happening in the kitchen, and now two of the other chefs who were working there have gone missing. Still, he has orders to fill, and even the story of the mysterious deaths of the entire kitchen staff of the restaurant that once occupied the space isn’t enough to stop him from putting in an overnight shift to get ready for a major catering job. But he isn’t alone—the ghost of the long-dead pastry chef/serial killer that lurks in the back of the walk-in and the depths of the deep fryer is waiting. And she’s hungry.
Bad Bones (Real Estate Horror)
Ditchwater, the final house designed by the famed architect affectionately known as Total-Lunatic Jones, is a masterpiece of midcentury design that has unaccountably stood empty for years. Despite that, when structural engineer Helen Pei tours with her realtor, she’s surprised to find the entire house in pristine condition. Driven by an impulse for which she can’t quite account, she makes an offer, and it’s immediately accepted. It’s only on moving in that she discovers that there’s something wrong with the building, and it’s not the drains. It’s worse.* In the depths of his madness, Jones created a set of symbols that could open a passage to Hell, and he built them into the structure of the building. But his death interrupted the construction, and it isn’t until Helen repairs a wall in the kitchen that his vision is finally, inadvertently, realized. Now, Helen is facing the reno job of her life, and she’s about to find out how brutal architecture can be.
(*Depending on how you look at it.)
They Float! (Balloon Horror)
Once upon a time, in the age of magic, an evil creature of great power stalked the world, feasting on all the pain and sorrow it could create. It was defeated, at great cost, its body annihilated and its spirit buried deep in the Earth. The witches who overcame it even trapped it in a pocket of inert, unbreathable gas, the better to keep it from ever finding humanity again.
In 2022, the worldwide supply of helium is running short, and mining companies find themselves prospecting further and further to seek it out. So when a new pocket is uncovered, the general feeling is relief, even if the equipment malfunctions on the job are somewhat deadlier than usual. Three months later, on the other side of the world, a fresh tank arrives at a party supply store, just as the Pleasant Valley middle school PTA is putting the finishing touches on the setup for the fall dance (carnival themed). Five giant clown balloons are set to decorate the gym, and the shop owner helpfully comes out after he closes the shop, to deliver and inflate them. Twenty minutes later, no one can find him, the power is out and the balloons are missing. Now, all that stands between an ancient evil and the return of its reign of terror are four angry moms and a mildly-incontinent labradoodle.
Scary things are all well and good, but we’re coming on for the holidays, and as far as I’m concerned that means one thing: fancy cheese, the richer and runnier the better. Quinta and it’s more widely available cousin Harbison owe their heritage to Vacherin Mont d’Or, with their bark-wrapped exteriors and spoonable insides. Slice off the top, scoop out the middle, and have some crusty bread standing by.