by Erin Murphy, from Death al Dente, first in the Food Lovers' Village Mysteries, by Leslie Budewitz, coming in August 2013
I grew up here in Jewel Bay and like a lot of kids, couldn’t wait to leave. But after fourteen years, it was time. “Past time,” my mother Fresca says. “About time,” my sister Chiara says. My brother Nick just raises his eyebrows.
Mr. Sandburg and I are settling in to our little cabin above the lake. He’s making the acquaintance of all the neighborhood mice. I can just hear him: “Pleased to meet you. I’m Mr. Sandburg, but you can call me Sandy.” “Eek!!! A cat!!!” they all reply, and run screaming away to places he can’t follow.
I’m spending most of my time at the Merc, of course. I thought Claudette would be here to help me learn the ropes, but the week before I got back, she ran off to Las Vegas with Dean Vincent, the chiropractor and wanna-be Elvis impersonator. Or rather, tribute artist. He’s not half-bad, but he’s not exactly half-good, either.
So here I am, with Tracy, who’s sweet and unhappy – she wanted to be the manager, but Fresca brought me in instead. I’m trying hard to get in good with her, but it’s not always easy. Plus the woman drinks Diet Coke in the morning – the thought makes my brain hurt. But we need her. She’s got experience, and a real talent for display. Which I most definitely do not.
And Fresca. Well, the whole point is for her to be less involved with the store, so she can spend her time cooking up her pastas and sauces, our biggest sellers. They need to be even bigger sellers, if we’re going to survive.
Honestly, the place is in bigger trouble than I realized. The first thing we need is a new mission.
And a new slogan. “If it’s made in Montana, it must be good.”
Maybe we need a new festival, to kick off summer.
Hmm. How does the Festa di Pasta di Jewel Bay sound? We can start Friday night, in the courtyard, with an Italian dinner. I’ll get all the local restaurants to make a dish or two – salads and appetizers, pasta primavera, lasagna, fun cookies from the bakery next door, and of course, Pinot Grigio and Chianti. Then, over the weekend, every restaurant and food shop can offer a special Italian dish or two. We’ll decorate the village – our name for downtown, the original settlement – and all the merchants can celebrate with their own summery twist. Then on Sunday, we’ll have live jazz – Jewel Bay is a hotbed for it – and arts and food in the streets. Gelato, biscotti, and All-American treats, too.
If it’s making you hungry, then it’s working. See you there!
What summer festivals or fairs are you looking forward to?
Death al Dente, first in the Food Lovers' Village Mysteries, debuts from Berkley Prime Crime on August 6! The series is set in a small, lakeside resort community in Northwest Montana, on the road to Glacier Park. Guess where my author, Leslie Budewitz, lives! Leslie is also a lawyer and won the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction for Books, Crooks & Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law & Courtroom Procedure (Quill Driver Books, 2011). Visit her at www.LawandFiction.com and www.LawandFiction.com/blog, and now, at www.LeslieBudewitz.com