Monday, August 27, 2012


 By Erin Murphy
- from Book One of the Food Lovers' Village Mysteries, by Leslie Budewitz, coming in August 2013 

From the Journal of Erin Murphy
Aug 27, 2012

Summer in Northwest Montana! Every time I come home to Jewel Bay, I wonder how I can find a way to move back here, make a living, and not stand in my mother’s shadow. Or in her way. She’s doing great, running Murphy’s Mercantile–the Village grocery that’s been in my family for more than a hundred years. It’s not really a grocery anymore–town grew, as towns do, and most of the "necessary businesses" like the grocery, hardware store, laundry, and even the p.o. live out on the highway now. Which left the Village–the original townsite, which you might call downtown–to reinvent itself. And it has, with food.

I love the new town motto: Jewel Bay, A Food Lovers’ Village. Half a dozen restaurants are easily as good as any in Seattle. Wendy Taylor–now Wendy Fontaine–finally made her dream come true when she opened Le Panier, a bakery to die for. Her darling French husband Max’s darling French bistro, Chez Max–ooh, la la! I’d eat the Jewel Inn’s crepes and omelets every day if I could–so it’s a good thing I can’t. And if you love to cook, like I do, you’ll spend hours in Kitchenalia, drooling over the cookware, the glassware, the knives and utensils and kitchen tools you never knew you needed.

I confess that The Merc is not the shining star of the Village. My mother–officially Francesca Conti Murphy, but everyone calls her Fresca–is a fabulous cook. The pastas and sauces she makes and sells to go are terrific. She’s set up a great produce cart, selling local fruits and vegetables. But while I try to give her business advice, from my experience working at SavClub, the international warehouse chain based in Seattle, she’s not really interested in the business side of things. She’d rather roast peppers for a new sauce or chop olives for tapenade. The product mix looks a bit haphazard to me, and the building is showing its age. Fresca did hire her old friend Claudette Randall to run the place, and Claudette–well, she’s a doll. Love her pep and pop. But does she have what it takes to manage a gift and grocery in the heart of a tourist community? And get it through the inevitable winter slow-down? I’m rubbing my lucky stars, hoping she does.

Because I adore this Village. And I hope you will, too.

(Thanks to my author, Leslie Budewitz, for posting this. She’s just turned in book #1 in what she calls The Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries. In fact, the book went in so recently that her editors at Berkley Prime Crime have not yet confirmed the series name or book title! The series will debut in summer 2013. Meanwhile, stay tuned for more news from Jewel Bay, Montana.

The series is set in a small, lakeside resort community in Northwest Montana, on the road to Glacier Park. Guess where Leslie 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 and


  1. Somehow, I think you'll find a way to make a living in Jewel Bay, Erin. It sounds like a wonderful place to live!

  2. I love what I'm hearing and it sounds perfect.

  3. Looking forward to this series!

  4. Sounds like my kind of town, Erin. I'll meet you at Chez Max for crepes!

    ~ Sophie

  5. Jewel Bay sounds like a wonderful place, full of delightful temptations. I'm sure that no unexpected event--a murder, for example--could ever disturb such a tranquil place. --B.K.

  6. Sounds like my kinda place, and Fresca - love the name - my kind of cook!! Pasta... mmmmm.

  7. Thanks for the welcome -- you're all as kind and welcoming as the folks in Jewel Bay! And murder, BK? Heavens, no. It's been ages and ages since anything bad happened. Well, fourteen years, anyway ... .

  8. This looks so delicious--can't wait to read all about it! xoxo Hayley Snow