Saturday, April 27, 2013

Stormy Weather

By Claudette Randall, from Death al Dente, Book One of the Food Lovers' Village Mysteries, by Leslie Budewitz, coming in August 2013

April Showers bring – well, I don’t know. In northwest Montana, April is glorious! The snow is finally gone – except for those wet, heavy dumps we’ve had the last three Sundays, but they melt fast. The grass is greening. The sky is bluing. My daffs, tulips, and hyacinth are coming on like crazy, and the peonies are sticking their brave little red snouts out of the cold, wet earth. Even the cherry orchards along the lake are starting to wake up!

And most importantly for a sleepy little tourist town like Jewel Bay, the visitors are beginning to return. One day you see an RV with Arizona or Alberta plates inching across the one-lane bridge and up through the village – aka downtown – pulling a fancy SUV and wondering how on earth they’re going to make those corners. The next day you see county road crews out repairing the “No Towed Vehicles” sign that the plows knocked down over the winter. And then the snowbirds return, and their friends and relatives come to visit, and Ka-ching! The cash registers make those happy noises.

But the Merc may be in for an even bigger change. Francesca Murphy – everyone calls her Fresca – owns the place, and I manage it. Officially the Glacier Mercantile, we’re a gift and food shop in a hundred-year-old building built by Fresca’s late husband’s – grandfather, was it? I forget. The building’s a bit crumbly, but still loaded with charm. I met Fresca just after her husband died, and oh, she was in a rough spot. We’ve been fast friends ever since, and when she needed me to help her out, why I just made a new plan, Stan! (And my old bosses, Ned and Ted Redaway, understood completely. I think.) We carry all kinds of fun local stuff, from pottery and paintings to food to – well, whatever. Fresca is a fabulous cook and makes the best pastas, sauces, and pestos. Frankly, they keep us afloat.

Now Fresca’s daughter Erin is coming home. She’s been in Seattle, working as a grocery buyer for SavClub – it’s kind of like Costco. Fresca hasn’t said, but I think she’s going to work here. She’s a darling girl – lively dark eyes and straight dark hair like her mother’s, with her father’s fair skin, and such fun clothes. I get so tired of winter coats and fleece jackets. And Erin has lots of ideas. I’m sure she’ll have this place hopping in no time.

I wish I were good at planning, like Erin is. Because it might be about time for a new plan ... .

Any changes in your future?

(Death al Dente, the first book in the Food Lovers' Village Mysteries, debuts from Berkley Prime Crime in summer 2013. 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 and ) 


  1. Yay! Good to hear that Erin is making that move!

  2. Mmm this sounds good, looking forward to reading the book.

  3. Willow, I can't believe it, either! And I'm so behind in packing. Fresca aka Mom is expecting me to be there May 1 ... .
    Aurian -- thanks! Pre-orders are discounted 10% on Amazon -- I suspect the sale ends April 30.