Thursday, June 29, 2017

*Review + Author Interview* A Crime of Passion Fruit by Ellie Alexander

A Crime of Passion Fruit
by Ellie Alexander

A Crime of Passion Fruit (A Bakeshop Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
St. Martin’s Paperbacks (June 27, 2017)
Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1250088079
Torte―everybody’s favorite small-town family bakeshop―is headed for the high seas, where murder is about to make a splash. . .
Jules Capshaw is trying to keep her cool as Torte gets set to make its transformation from quaint, local confectionary café to royal pastry palace. Meanwhile, Jules’s estranged husband Carlos is making a desperate plea for her to come aboard his cruise ship and dazzle everyone with her signature sweets. She may be skeptical about returning to her former nautical life with Carlos but Jules can’t resist an all-expense-paid trip, either. If only she knew that a dead body would find its way onto the itinerary . .
“A warm and inviting atmosphere, friendly and likable main characters, and a nasty murder mystery to solve!” ―Fresh Fiction
Now, instead of enjoying tropical drinks on deck between whipping up batches of sea-salted chocolates and flambéing fresh pineapple slices in the kitchen, Jules is plunged into dangerous waters. Her investigation leaves her with more questions than answers: Why can’t anyone on board identify the young woman? And how can she help Carlos keep passengers at ease with a killer in their midst? Jules feels like she’s ready to jump ship. Can she solve this case without getting in too deep?
“A perfect mix for fans of Jenn McKinlay, Leslie Budewitz, or Jessica Beck.”
―Library Journal
My Review:
3 out of 5 stars

This is another new-to-me author and I'm glad to say that I didn't feel like I was missing anything by not reading the previous books in this series. 

I enjoyed the characters and the setting was great. I liked that the majority of it took place on a cruise ship. That always makes for an interesting read. The mystery kept my attention and I was stumped about who the killer was. 

Things moved a little too slowly for my taste at times but I still enjoyed the book and will check out the others in this series sometime.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Interview with Ellie Alexander
1.  Tell us a little about yourself.  
I’m Ellie Alexander, author of mysteries set in the Pacific Northwest. I happen to live in the Pacific Northwest and love getting to fictionalize real places here in this little corner of the globe.

2.  How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing professionally for ten years. Before taking the plunge into writing fiction I wrote for a variety of regional, national, and international magazines and newspapers. One of my favorite things about freelance writing was getting to listen to peoples’ stories. Writing mysteries isn’t all that different, minus the murder of course. Since I’m not a trained chef, when I’m working on a new book I’ll go to a coffee shop or bakery and spend an afternoon watching and observing how things are done. I log a ton of research and interview hours to make sure that I get the details right.
3.  Tell us about your books. 
I write the Bakeshop Mysteries set in Ashland, Oregon and featuring a romantic pastry chef, Juliet Montague Capshaw, who has returned to her hometown to heal her broken heart and help run the family bakeshop, Torte. Ashland is home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival which draws tourists from around the world to catch a production of Shakespeare under the stars. The town is themed like an old English Tudor village with eclectic shops and restaurants that pay homage to the Bard. Juliet (please call her Jules) loves the slower pace of being home in Ashland and getting to share her love of baking with locals and visitors. Just as she begins to find her rhythm in the kitchen she stumbles upon murder. Each book in the series includes original recipes from my home kitchen.

In the latest book, A Crime of Passion Fruit, Jules is returning to the ship for a temporary gig. The ship’s pastry chef has left in huff and Carlos, Jules’s estranged husband, calls and begs her to come help out until they can hire a permanent replacement. I really enjoyed getting a chance to show Jules in a very different setting. She honed her culinary talent on the cruise ship and got to explore flavor combinations at each port of call. However being back on the seas is a reminder of how much she has come to love her quiet life in Ashland.

4.  Do you have a certain writing process or routine?
I sketch detailed outlines before I begin writing. I usually start with the actual murder and then work my way backwards. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out motives for each suspect which helps naturally embed suspicions and red herrings into the plot. After I have a working outline I write really fast first drafts. Typically I write about 2,000 words every day. I don’t do any editing as I go. Instead I keep a stack of notebooks next to my desk and jot down things I want to fix as I go. Once I have a very rough draft I set it aside and don’t touch it for a couple of months. Then I come back to it with fresh eyes and begin the process of editing and layering in all the good stuff—like pastry!

5.  Who has been your favorite character to write so far?  Least favorite?  
I love getting to write Lance, the artistic director and Jules’s sometimes friend, sometimes frenemy. His voice is so distinct and perfectly Ashland. The beauty about having touches of the theater in the books is that I can play up the drama and still have it feel authentic. That might not work in another setting. In terms of my least favorite character it would have to be the first villain in Meet Your Baker, Nancy Hudson. She was based on a woman I saw berating a barista when I was doing research for the first book. My advice? Be nice to people. You never know who might be watching and you might get killed off in a book.

6.  Did you always know that you wanted to be an author?
Yes, but it took me a long time to realize that dream. I wrote my first mystery in second grade and from that time on was hooked to the process and creative energy around writing. I wrote stacks and stacks of terrible first drafts that will never see the light of day, and spent decades trying to figure out what I wanted to write about. My career right out college was in speech therapy and then I started a business, and worked in communications for the Alzheimer’s Association. Every job that I had has helped inform my writing and it wasn’t until I had more life experience that I was able to realize that old adage—write what you know.

7.  Do you have another job or do you write full time? 
Fortunately writing is my full time job these days. I have another series debuting this fall set in Leavenworth, WA, which is a charming Bavarian village in the North Cascade Mountains.

8.  Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?  
Read! Read! And then read some more. Read books in all genres, even genres you don’t typically read. Study the craft of writing. Take workshops and classes. Meet other writers and aspiring writers. Immerse yourself in the world of books and writing.

9.  What genre do you like to read? 
I read pretty much anything. I love narrative non-fiction. Bill Bryson is a favorite. I’m huge fan of historical fiction. I like literary fiction and sci-fi. You will almost always find me with a book in my hands.

10.  What do you like to do in your spare time?
Read. Shocker, huh? I love to bake, cook, hike, swim, garden, anything outside.

11.  Are you working on anything right now?
I’m working on the next book in the Bakeshop Mysteries, Another One Bites the Crust which comes out in January. It’s going to involve a murder at the theater and lots of crusty pastries.

About The Author
Displaying ELLIE ALEXANDER.jpg
Ellie Alexander is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research.
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