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, Mary Anne Edwards, and her favorite recipe for TUSCAN LEMON MUFFINS!
A Charlie McClung Mystery
BY MARY ANNE EDWARDS
It’s the perfect setting for a romantic getaway at sea: Caribbean breezes, clear blue skies, passionate nights, and murder? Not exactly what Detective Charlie McClung and Marian had in mind for their honeymoon. When one of their fellow passengers is murdered on her 35th wedding anniversary, Charlie and Marian get pulled into the investigation. Who would want to kill poor Tammy Ferguson in such a brutal way? As Charlie uncovers more sordid details about Tammy and her husband, Peter, it becomes clear that someone else has found the same skeletons in the Ferguson’s closet and Tammy has paid the price. Is Peter next?
Trapped on the ship with an insidious killer, shadows seem more ominous and even the most innocent faces seem sinister. Has Charlie inadvertently put Marian in harm’s way? How long does Charlie have before the hunter becomes the hunted?
What people are saying about “Criminal Kind.”
“Marian and Charlie McClung are the best crime fighting couple since Jennifer and Jonathan Hart. CRIMINAL KIND, the third in this wonderful series, is like taking a vacation. A vacation with murder. The setting is gorgeous, the mystery masterful, and if you think you know whodunit, you’ll never guess how. I’m a huge fan.” ~ Gretchen Archer ~ Author of the USA Today Bestselling Davis Way Crime Caper Series
“Oh, the shenanigans! Charlie and Marian’s honeymoon with a touch of murder kept me entertained to the very last page. Kick back, pour an umbrella drink, and tag along with the delightful McClungs as they track down an ingenious cruise ship killer.” ~ Alice Loweecey ~ Author of the Giulia Driscoll mysteries
“The story leads you through a maze not of who done it, but of who would have. Marian and Charlie do it again … balancing their love for each other while hunting down a truly creative and diabolical killer.” ~ Marlene Patterson ~ A Cozy Girl Reads
The Criminal Kind sets the stage wonderfully for a cruise, a crime, and showing how love cannot only bring hearts together, but tear them apart. I loved how Mary Anne created an environment of relaxation combined with tension as Charlie and Marian celebrate their love while trying to ensure a woman’s murder doesn’t go unsolved. ~Christina Freeburn ~Author of the Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery Series.
A Charlie McClung Mystery
BY MARY ANNE EDWARDS
Marian felt Charlie get out of the bed. She watched him move like a cat on the hunt, soundlessly sprinting toward the cabin door. The bright moon bathed their suite with soft light, filtering through the double-wide sliding glass doors. She sat up, studying him as he stared out of the tiny peephole. Glancing at the clock, she saw the time, 2:14, glow on its face, she wondered what could be going on this early in the morning to awaken her husband, and she decided to join him.
The low rumble of the ship’s engines was the only sound in their cabin as Marian tip-toed silently behind him and whispered, “Charlie, what’s the matter?”
“Something strange is happening in the suite next to us,” breathed Charlie.
Marian put her ear on the door, cold like a meat locker. Their noses almost touching, Charlie kissed the tip of hers as she strained to hear whatever he was listening to. Shuffling feet, muted voices, and a man’s sorrowful moan.
“Let me see.” Marian’s hand slid across Charlie’s bare back as she jockeyed for the peephole.
He put his finger to his lips then motioned toward the door handle. Marian slipped behind Charlie as he opened the door just a sliver. She ducked her head under his arm and stared at the people congregating in the hall. Two men pulled a gurney out of the suite, a sheet-covered body laid on it.
Charlie stepped out into the hallway, ignoring the fact he was shirtless, and in a hushed voice asked, “What’s going on?”
Marian quickly retrieved two plush robes, perks from the cruise line for booking the owner’s suite. Throwing on one of them, she hurried into the hallway after grabbing her husband’s detective ID. Charlie carried it with him at all times, keeping it bedside while he slept. She thrust the other robe and the badge into Charlie’s hands.
He flashed the small gold shield then tugged on the robe. One of the men pulling the gurney tilted his head toward the plush cabin and mouthed the words, Go in.
Marian shadowed Charlie into the suite. The ship’s medical officer was standing with his back toward the bathroom as a man knelt over the toilet. The doctor recognized them from yesterday’s VIP ship’s tour; Marian having entertained him with dozens of questions.
“Doctor Nelson, what’s happened?” Charlie asked as he glanced around the cabin, scrutinizing it for any clues for the cause of the sheet covered body. He noticed the bed had been turned down for the night and a green foil-covered rectangle of complimentary chocolate was in the center of the one of the two pillows at the head of bed. Looking in the silver trashcan next to the bed, he saw the wadded wrapper from the missing second piece. Spots of white, tinged with a hint of blue, dotted the carpet, trailing from the bathroom to the foot of the bed. Charlie looked in the bathroom again, the basin and vanity were covered with the same stains, the water was running, and things were knocked over on the vanity. The mirror was decorated with dried spots of the same color.
The ship’s doctor had dressed hastily in his white uniform, buttons and buttonholes missed-matched. He shook his head with gray tuffs of hair sticking up, and glanced over his shoulder at the man, now sitting on the tiled floor, staring at nothing. Lightly touching the man’s shoulder, he asked, “Mr. Ferguson, why don’t you come and sit with us? I’ll get you a drink.”
The man, haggard from anguish, flinched from the single tap but followed the doctor to the small sitting room. He stood staring at a loveseat as if he didn’t know what it was used for. Doctor Nelson prompted the mournful man to sit down.
Marian sat next to the silent man and held his hand. Peter Ferguson’s grief was obvious, which only meant the body under the sheet was that of his wife’s. She thought how cruel life could be; how a person’s comfortable and happy world can suddenly crumble into a miserable mess. Marian knew there was nothing she could say that could make his pain go away. If she tried, it would only trivialize his feelings. “Mr. Ferguson,” she murmured as she squeezed his hand and lightly rubbed his thick forearm. The memory of the night that Lee had died nudged her thoughts. No, that’s the past and I’m not going that way. This is not about me, it’s about Mr. Ferguson.
Peter Ferguson stared at her as tears ran down his puffy cheeks, lips trembling with unspoken words. Slowly, his head began to tilt toward Marian. She cradled his head on her shoulder as he hugged her tightly, like he did the first day of their cruise, during the reception celebrating the renewal of his wedding vows after 35 years of marriage.
Charlie squeezed the back of Marian’s neck and kissed the top of her head as he set a glass of water on the oval coffee table. Marian could see the strain in his eyes. She thought, but for the grace of God, there go I. Marian didn’t know what had happened to Peter Ferguson’s wife, Tammy, but she wondered if the roles had been reversed, would Tammy console Charlie. Not that Tammy was unkind, she was very friendly but appeared to have an edge of restraint; the stiff hugs everyone received from Tammy were so unlike the gregarious hugs Peter had doled out.
Marian watched Charlie deliberately patrolling the cabin, discreetly examining its contents, while speaking with the ship’s doctor. He looked inside the sweating ice bucket by lifting the lid with a tissue. Where does he keep those tissues? His hand was empty, then poof, a tissue is in his hand.
She read the doctor’s lips, anaphylactic shock. Marian looked around the suite and wondered what Tammy could have been allergic to. There were three beautiful flower arrangements – two, she recognized from the Ferguson’s renewal ceremony ‒ an empty bottle of champagne, a bottle of merlot, two wine glasses, an open box of Godiva chocolates, and a bowl of trail mix sitting on the coffee table; nothing that appeared to be lethal or out of the ordinary.
Peter Ferguson loosened his grip on Marian and mumbled, “Sorry. I’m sorry … I … I need a …” he wiped his swollen bloodshot eyes with the heels of his meaty hands. Peter cleared his throat and swallowed. “Uh … a drink. I need a drink.”
Marian reached for the water.
Peter stood, “No, I need something stronger.” Taking a few steps, he stumbled and fell to knees, a pair of beige satin pumps lay crushed under his legs. He sat on the floor clutching one of the shoes to his chest sobbing, “Tammy, Tammy, Tammy.”
Marian felt tears rolling down her cheeks as watched Peter cling to his wife’s shoe. Looking around the spacious cabin, she saw remnants of Tammy’s life; a pale blue silk nightgown lay across the foot of the bed, a pair of pantyhose and a bra dangled from the back of a padded side chair. A lipstick-stained champagne glass sat on the end table, next to it was a well-worn Jackie Collins’ paperback novel, Lovers and Gamblers, with a pair of black cat-eye, rhinestone-studded reading glasses lying on top of the book.
Doctor Nelson knelt beside Peter. “Mr. Ferguson, why don’t you come to the infirmary with me? I’ll give you something to steady your nerves. We’ll find you another cabin, so you can rest.”
Peter Ferguson violently shook his head. He seized the other pump, clenching the pair tightly to his chest as if he could give life to them, as if he could force Tammy back to life to reclaim her magical shoes.
“Very well,” Doctor Nelson conceded quickly. He didn’t know what he could give to the man anyway. Peter Ferguson reeked of alcohol, any drug given could be lethal. “Would you like for me to stay with you?”
Again, Peter Ferguson shook his head. He stood, dropped the shoes, sat on the edge of the bed, grabbed the nightgown, buried his face in it and then laid down holding the gown in a tender embrace. He was still, very still, as if he were dead.
With two long strides, Doctor Nelson was by the bed feeling for a pulse. The doctor’s bunched-up shoulders relaxed. The grieving man had passed out, probably from drinking too much. Just as well, he thought, just as well. “I’ll stay with him until the morning, then play it by ear.” The doctor looked at Charlie. “I’d like to speak with you tomorrow about this. Something’s…” Doctor Nelson paused and pursed his lips. Sighing, he continued, “We’ll talk in the morning. You two go back to bed and enjoy your honeymoon.”
Mary Anne Edwards is the author of The Charlie McClung Mysteries, Brilliant Disguise, A Good Girl, and Criminal Kind. The fourth book in the series, Sins of My Youth, will be released winter, 2015. These are traditional murder mysteries with a touch of romance. There are six more books planned for this series. But her imagination tends to run wild, so you never know when it may end. Mary Anne was born in Mercedes, Texas. She now lives in Georgia with her husband of 34+ years and her Tuxedo cat, Gertrude. She and her husband dream of retiring in … Well, they have not decided yet. For years, she only dabbled in writing, but with the encouragement of her husband, she left the accounting world to write full-time. When Mary Anne is not writing, she loves to read, watch crime dramas, and travel with her husband.
Links to Mary Anne’s website, blog, books, etc.
Criminal Kind: http://goo.gl/gUOVH6
Brilliant Disguise: http://goo.gl/RwXPyL
Amazon Author Page:
I hope you enjoy the recipe Mary Anne is sharing with us today on Karen’s Killer Fixin’s. Happy eating!
P.S. We’re at 208 recipes and counting with this posting. Hope you find some recipes you like. If this is your first visit, please check out past blogs for more Killer Fixin’s. In the right hand column menu, you can even look up past recipes by type. i.e. Desserts, Breads, Beef, Chicken, Soups, Author Specials, etc.
TUSCAN LEMON MUFFINS
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour (7.9 oz.)
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
½ cup water
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spoon or weigh flour into a dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine ricotta cheese, water, olive oil, lemon rind, lemon juice, and egg. Add ricotta cheese mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just until moist.
Place 12 muffin-cup liners into muffin pan; coat with cooking spray. Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over the batter.
Bake for 16 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Cool for 5 minutes in pan on a wire rack.
**SPECIAL GIVEAWAY**: Mary Anne is giving away a Kindle copy of CRIMINAL KIND to one lucky reader who comments on her Karen’s Killer Fixin’s **Author Special** blog. Don’t miss the chance to read this book! Thanks, Mary Anne, for sharing your stories with us!