CULINARY MURDER MYSTERIES SET ON THE SOUTH COAST OF AUSTRALIA
This series is set in Not Just Desserts, the deli-catering company run by Olivia Beauman in the village of Grevillea on the south coast of Australia. To any outsider this sleepy rural township might seem very far away from any intrigue. But when Olivia, plus Eddie Wong, Olivia’s new partner and local school principal, and Olivia’s close friends Janette and Carmela, plus policeman Richard Brumby, are drawn into solving multiple murders, the residents of Grevillea discover that no place, no matter how idyllic, can ever really be safe. Included in all three books are some of Olivia’s easy-to-prepare recipes.
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From Unjust Desserts:
“The chicken curry was on the top shelf. Queenie eyed it with pleasure. Food was one of her solaces. Food and her garden. Her old-fashioned ‘rosa rugosa albas’ and the Chaucer and Chianti varieties plus her cottage garden delphiniums, lupins, foxgloves, pansies, primulas, were so famous the Findrose Rose Society regarded her as their most distinguished member. Without bothering to reheat the curry she scooped it up with her fingers. Delicious, if heavy on the chilli. She poured the sauce into her mouth. Definitely too much chilli. When the carton was licked clean she carefully scrubbed it, then took it into the potting shed and slid it under a pile of similar containers. The cramps and vomiting didn’t begin until fifteen minutes later.” Grevillia may seem an idyllic village on the south coast of Australia. But when Detective Richard Brumby is brought in to solve three murders, he discovers that no place is safe from secret and intrigue.
Book 1. UnJust Desserts.
Not Just Desserts, the deli and catering firm owned by Olivia Beauman, is under threat. Though many people hate Harry Oldritch, it is his long suffering wife Queenie, and his mistress Bettina who die after old fashioned pesticide is placed into meals Olivia has prepared. To any outsider Grevillea might seem a typical sleepy coastal village. But when DI Richard Brumby is brought in to help solve these crimes, he discovers that no place, no matter how idyllic, is safe from secrets and intrigue.
Book 2. UnKind Cut
As a long dry summer comes to an end, the Grevilleans are trying to raise money for their fire-station by staging a production of JuliusCaesar. Kingston Ellis, that celebrated Shakespearean actor, has offered to play the title role. Opening night is on the 15th March. However when Kingston is stabbed for real in the assassination scene, Olivia Beauman of Not Just Desserts, Eddie her partner and the play’s director, plus close friends Carmela and Janette, are inevitably drawn into helping DI Richard Brumby solve this crime.
Book 3. UnFair CoverUps
A body has been fed through a Shire shredding machine. Another is found in the local tip. DI Richard Brumby and his new 21C, Ivan Kaminsky, set about finding the bodies’ identity. Inevitable, Olivia Beauman of Not Just Desserts, Eddie her partner and local school principal, and close friends Carmela and Janette, become drawn into helping DI Richard Brumby solve this crime as, at the same time, Richard tries to salvage his marriage.
Possible talking points:
This murder mystery trilogy favours a ‘gently, gently’ approach of how swiftly life can barrel out of control. Olivia Beauman is faced with the challenge of running her deli-catering foodstore Not Just Desserts with little business experience. To complicate matters, not only A multitude of characters, many of whom have settled in ‘Grevillea’ – the pseudonym for an amalgamation of villages on the Westernport side of the Mornington Peninsula – are seeking a ‘sea change’. The major issue in this sensitive area is development. How much should be permitted? What should be stopped? There are always the divergent interests of locals who wish to keep their environment pristine and developers eyeing off a possible cash cow. Can you see any resolution to this conflict?
General Comments about Mysteries
The popularity of the murder/mystery genre lies in its well constructed plot. As a general rule, murder mysteries must have an obvious opening, a decent development, lots of ‘red herrings’ and a satisfactory resolution. No matter whom the characters are or where the crime takes place, this shape is fundamental to the genre. It is this basic structure that allows so many themes to be explored, themes that in this novel focus on contemporary issues. This trilogy also explores the plight of many single women, sometimes single parents, and many older women, who through no fault of their own find it hard to make ends meet. Though their lives are often very hard, often resourceful they use their domestic skills such as cooking, caring and gardening to make a living. Another issue is Richard Brumby’s broken marriage and his attempts to keep things together, not always successfully. Because readers are often curious about any food that appears in a story, Olivia’s recipes are included.