Sunday, November 24, 2013

What’s to be Done About Binnie?

Olivia Greyson and Maddie Briggs—sleuthing partners from THE COOKIE CUTTER SHOP MYSTERIES, by Virginia Lowell—ponder the limits of gratitude while baking goodies for Thanksgiving at The Gingerbread House. 

 “What do you think?” Maddie held up a greenish turkey-shaped decorated cookie. “I’m afraid this might disturb our more sensitive customers. Or make them lose their appetites. Maybe I should eat it.”

“You actually mixed up some pea-green icing?” Olivia asked. “And those eyes look mustard yellow. What on earth came over you?”

Maddie grimaced at the cookie in her hand. “I can’t explain it… except that while I was mixing the colors, I was thinking about Binnie Sloan’s latest blog post. Really, it isn’t our fault somebody left a body on the Gingerbread House porch. Livie, Binnie practically accused us of murder! In print!” Maddie’s emerald eyes flashed, and her red hair seemed to have caught on fire.

“It isn’t the first time Binnie has accused us of something shady.” Olivia piped fluorescent orange flood icing onto a pumpkin-shaped cookie. “She practically devotes that infernal weekly newspaper of hers to destroying our reputations. Nobody in Chatterley Heights takes her seriously. However, I can understand how dwelling on Binnie’s behavior might lead to pea-green and mustard-yellow royal icing.” Olivia picked up the offending cookie and bit off its head. “Luckily, poor Mr. Turkey still tastes like a lemon sugar cookie.”

Maddie squeezed the pea-green icing out of its pastry bag and into the garbage. “I blame Thanksgiving,” she said. “It’s one of those holidays that makes me feel obliged to be grateful and forgiving. But frankly, I’d like to bite Binnie’s head off. So there.” She dropped her entire pastry bag into the garbage.

“Understandable,” Olivia said, “but that would only encourage Binnie. Here’s how I think of Thanksgiving—I think of it as a time to shift our focus away from what we don’t have, so we can be grateful for what we do have. For instance, at the moment—as far as we know, knock on wood—the store’s front porch is currently free of murder victims. For that, I am truly grateful.”

“Okay, I get your point. Also, there’s the turkey, dressing, and pumpkin pie to appreciate. And, of course, there’s Aunt Sadie, who took on the challenging task of raising me after my mom and dad died.” Maddie scanned the little bottles of gel coloring on the kitchen counter. “I am pleased to announce that I have left the land of pea green and mustard yellow. I’m now in more of a purple and baby pink mood. Hand me another turkey cookie, would you? I’ll be gentle with it. And just so you know, Livie, I am grateful to be here in the Gingerbread House kitchen decorating cookies with my best friend since age ten.”

 “Me, too.” Olivia smiled, inside and out.

Does Thanksgiving hold a special meaning for you?

 The fifth book in the COOKIE CUTTER SHOP series, COOKIES AND SCREAM, is awaiting a 2014 publication date. Meanwhile, visit Virginia Lowell at


  1. Thanks for mentioning the lack of murder victims on your front porch. I'm checking my backyard right now. Nope. None there! It is a reason to celebrate. Pass the cookies.

  2. A day without bodies in the backyard is worth a whole batch of cookies!

  3. A day without dead bodies is indeed a day to be celebrated for you all. Enjoy your cookies :)
    And Olivia, you could have a contest who can make the ugliest cookie and still have it taste the best. See if sight can influence taste.

  4. Hmmm... I tend to disagree. I have been working on Christmas and missed reading about my daily body in the backyard, or front porch. I can't wait until I have time to curl up with a cup of hot cocoa and a nice cozy mystery!