Welcome to my Friday bonus feature called Karen’s Killer Fixin’s **Author Special**!! Today, in lieu of one of my own recipes, I’m going to introduce you to a new author who will share one of her favorite recipes. Not only will you and I occasionally learn how to make something new and delicious, but we’ll get a chance to check out some wonderful authors. Introducing author, HELEN STARBUCK, and her favorite recipe for BAKLAVA!
Kidnapping Crime Fiction
BY HELEN STARBUCK
Not Knowing Can Be Lethal
Assaulted, left for dead, and amnesic, the woman who thinks her name is Alex, may be the only surviving victim of a killer who’s targeting prostitutes and leaving their bodies without fingertips to complicate their identification. Denver Homicide Detective Blake Halloran is sure she is connected to the other killings but he can’t identify her, even with her fingertips intact. And she can’t remember anything—including the face or name of the man who tried to kill her.
With each new victim, it becomes more crucial for Alex to remember what happened to her if Blake and his partner are to solve the murders, but how do you force someone to remember? As Blake’s strong attraction to her and his need to protect her grows, so does his uneasiness about the inability to identify her, whether she’s a villain or a victim, and whether her amnesia is real.
Editorial Note: Edited for some language
The room was quiet when he pushed open the door, the blinds were drawn, and she looked as if she were asleep. Her face was swollen and bleached of color except where it was bruised. Her neck had ugly dark marks on it. When he pushed the door closed it made a small noise, and her eyes flew open.
“Who are you?” she croaked. Her eyes were huge, and she clutched the call button, clearly terrified.
“I’m Detective Halloran. I’m the guy who nearly ran you over last night.” He smiled as he walked toward the bed. She shrank into it, away from him, continuing to firmly grip the call button.
“How are you?” he asked and, to try to reassure her, he pulled his shield off his belt and showed it to her.
“They keep telling me I’m fine. I don’t know. My head hurts, my neck hurts. I hurt all over.”
“How’s the memory?”
“Gone. I don’t remember anything including my name. I didn’t know where I was, what city, until they told me.” She laughed weakly. “I can’t even remember what I look like. There’s mirror in the bath, but,” she said displaying the bright red band on her left wrist that said “fall risk” in big bold black letters. “They won’t let me up by myself and they follow me into the bathroom. I haven’t gotten a good look in the mirror, yet. Honestly, I’m not sure I want to see my face if it looks as bad as it feels.”
“Try not to worry…”
“Don’t say that!” she shouted hoarsely pounding a fist on the bed.
She clutched at her neck and swallowed several times, her brows scrunched together tightly against the pain. He stepped up to her bedside and handed her a plastic container of water with a straw sticking out of it.
She took it and sipped, then let her head fall back on the pillow as she closed her eyes. He took the container from her hand and replaced it on the bedside table.
“Everyone says that, and I haven’t got a clue who I am or where I belong or what happened to me. I didn’t get like this by myself.”
She opened her eyes and glared at him. “Somebody hurt me, and I don’t know who did it or why.”
He nodded, embarrassed. She was worried, who wouldn’t be? “Look… uh,” he began, but it was awkward. He had no name to use.
He cleared his throat. “Look, I’ll take care of getting you a place to stay until we figure out who you are and can contact a friend or relative. I’ve told them to call me when you’re ready for discharge and I’ll take care of it.” He watched in dismay as tears gathered in her eyes and she angrily wiped them away.
“I have no money, no identification I guess, and no idea what to do. What if my memory never comes back?”
He moved closer to her bed. “The doc says it will eventually, but until it does, I’ll make sure you’re safe.”
She took a shuddering breath and looked at him. She had green eyes in a pale face, with a light sprinkling of freckles across her nose. Out from under the bandage wrapped around her head dark red hair cascaded to her shoulders, some of it still stiff with blood. Despite her injuries she was pretty. She nodded at him and closed her eyes.
“I’m sorry, I’m exhausted. They woke me up all night long, checking on me. I didn’t get much sleep. I’m scared.” She opened her eyes, looked up at him, and gave him a weak smile. That lost puppy look was like a punch to his gut. “Thank you for helping me.”
He mentally shook himself. She was, in all probability, a hooker and had been assaulted by a john who’d gotten a little carried away. If that was the case, she wasn’t at all as innocent as she appeared at the moment and he needed to remember that. He’d see she was taken care of until she got her memory back and then, hopefully, she’d remember who had done this to her, he could arrest the guy, and send her on her way.
He shook himself again. Jesus, it isn’t even my case or jurisdiction. What the f**k is going on in my head? Guilt, he thought, that’s what’s going on.
“You’re welcome,” he said with a slight smile. “I’ll make arrangements for a place to for you to stay and get in touch with Victim’s Assistance.”
He pulled a mobile fingerprint scanner out of his jacket pocket and reached for her hand slowly, as if she were a frightened animal. “I’d like to take your fingerprints. It could help identify you.”
She nodded and held out a hand. He gave it a squeeze before beginning to print her.
Colorado native and former OR nurse, Helen Starbuck—no relation to the coffee bunch— draws on her years of OR nursing experience for her Annie Collins Mystery Series and her love of suspense and romance to create her standalone romantic suspense novels and characters she would treasure as friends. She enjoys books about strong women and interesting men.
Links to Helen’s website, blog, books, etc.:
I hope you enjoy the recipe Helen is sharing today on Karen’s Killer Fixin’s. Happy Eating!
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Note from Helen: My favorite recipe at the holidays is Baklava. In the past, I made this and sold it to co-workers at Christmas, and some still get in touch for a batch. I got this recipe off a phyllo dough box so long ago I don’t remember the company who had it on their packaging, but this is a pretty standard recipe. Phyllo dough can be found in the frozen foods section where the puff pastry dough lives.
- 1 1/2 pounds walnuts, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 cups (two sticks) of melted unsalted butter
- One box of phyllo dough pastry sheets, thawed. Important: phyllo dough sheets are very thin and dry out almost immediately if left exposed to room air, so I leave them rolled up (as they come out of the inner plastic wrap) and covered with a slightly damp (not wet) kitchen towel. I unroll and take approximately 5 sheets out as I need them to lay in the pan, roll remaining sheets up and cover them with the towel.
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- Zest of 1 lemon
Combine walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl.
Lightly brush a 9″ x 13″ baking pan with melted butter. Place 5 sheets of phyllo dough on the bottom of the pan, brushing each section of sheets generously with melted butter. Cover with 1/2 of the walnut mixture.
Layer 5 more phyllo sheets on top, brushing each section with butter. Cover each section with walnut mixture and continue doing this until 5 phyllo sheets are left. Finish the pan with the remaining phyllo sheets and brush with remaining butter.
With a sharp knife, cut phyllo into 1 1/2″ diamonds or squares. Important: this has to be done before you cook the Baklava or the baked sheets shatter.
Bake in preheated 350°F oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until golden brown. Check at 30 minutes to ensure it isn’t browning early. Baklava takes little time to cook and should be removed from the oven when browned.
While the pan is baking, combine the syrup ingredients in a small pan and heat until granulated sugar melts and all ingredients are combined. Keep warm. Cool the pan of baklava slightly and pour warm syrup over it. Cool completely and serve. If there is any left after serving to guests, keep refrigerated.