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 BIRK, and her favorite recipe for WILD MUSHROOM PASTA!
MERMAIDS OF BODEGA BAY
Terrence Reid Mystery Series Book 1
By MARY BIRK
A LIBRARY JOURNAL SELF-e TOP PICK OF THE YEAR FOR 2016
Suspecting that his estranged wife is having an affair with a famous artist from a renowned American art dynasty, Scottish Superintendent Terrence Reid, heir to a whiskey fortune and Scottish title, travels to the small California seaside town of Bodega Bay to try to win her back—only to discover that her lover’s six-year-old daughter has just been kidnapped.
Anne, a talented historic garden designer, doesn’t know whether to bless or curse the luck that had her husband show up on her doorstep just as disaster strikes the Grainger Art Colony. Moving on after he left her was hard, but she’d done it with Andrew Grainger’s help.
When Anne and her lover become the FBI’s chief suspects, Reid, compelled to exonerate the woman he still loves, steps in to investigate—and in the process, uncovers a shocking web of deceit and danger.
MERMAIDS OF BODEGA BAY
Terrence Reid Mystery Series Book 1
By MARY BIRK
Superintendent Terrence Reid de-planed at the San Francisco airport and glanced at his watch. Just after six. His wife should be finished with work for the day—assuming she was even in town. He should have called before booking his flight, but when he’d seen the article, realized it was her in the photograph, he hadn’t been able to think of anything but getting to where she was.
He put his worn leather messenger bag down on a seat in a relatively empty area of the concourse, pulled out his mobile phone, and sat down. Taking a deep breath, he dialed her number, feeling his jaw set as it always seemed to these days when he dealt with her. He let it ring until it went through to voice mail. He left her a message to call him, then looked around for a place to wait for her call. No point in leaving the airport if it turned out she wasn’t here.
He’d planned to go straight from Virginia back to Scotland after he finished his meetings with the FBI at Quantico. Then he’d seen the magazine article and knew he had to see Anne. He’d wanted to go to her before that, of course, but with things the way they were between them, he hadn’t been able to think of an excuse—until he’d seen the article.
He found a quiet bar on the concourse and ordered a drink. Shaking his head when the waitress asked if he wanted to order any food, he set his mobile down in front of him so he’d be sure to hear it ring. He closed his eyes, briefly remembering the last time he’d been there and the fight they’d had. July, it had been. The worst fight they’d ever had.
He glanced at his silent phone. Where was she? That was the hell of mobile phones. She could be anywhere. And wherever she was, she was likely with him. No, he was jumping to conclusions.
Looking around, he noted he wasn’t the only one sitting by himself. A woman glanced back at him, looked like she’d smile if he did so first. He quickly averted his eyes and steepled his fingers, making sure his wedding band showed.
He checked again that the ringer was on, then put his mobile down when the waitress came with his whiskey. Not his family’s label, but one of the newer competitors his father had mentioned last time they’d talked. The warm burn should have thawed his insides, but he was too filled with the sharp ice of dread for anything as mundane as alcohol to help.
Nonetheless, he’d made his way through half of a second glass of liquid heat by the time his mobile finally rang. He couldn’t breathe when he saw the caller i.d. appear on the screen. Even though he’d been expecting her call, he felt like he’d been punched in the stomach.
He wanted to hear her voice so badly. It had been so long. Playing back her old phone messages didn’t count. He gripped the phone tightly. His heart lurched and he answered, trying to make his voice as impersonal as he could. He closed his eyes while he tried to get his senses about him.
He took a deep breath. “Reid here.”
“Terrence.” She paused, her voice uncertain. “It’s Anne. You left me a message?” He could imagine her biting her bottom lip; she always did that when she was nervous, and he knew he made her nervous. When had that started?
In the background, he could hear the noise of other people laughing, talking. She was out, then. At a restaurant, or maybe out for drinks. Saturday night, that was normal, wasn’t it? That didn’t mean she was with another man. She had work colleagues, family, she could be with anyone. He imagined her smiling, having fun with her friends. When had he last had fun?
“Aye.” He swallowed, debating whether to tell her he was in town or wait to see what she said first.
“Is something wrong? Are you okay?” Her voice was filled with concern and warmth. “It’s what—three in the morning there?”
Her voice was like that, interested and breathless all at once, as if she couldn’t wait to hear what you were going to say. Her casual American accent had always delighted him, but now he cursed it. Cursed it because he had no idea if she was being friendly to him in particular or if it was just her way of speaking. Safer to assume it wasn’t meant personally than to let himself think that she was happy to hear from him, and then find out later that he’d misinterpreted things. He took care that no unwelcome warmth tainted his own voice when he responded.
“I’m fine. I’m not in Glasgow. I’m in San Francisco.” His eyes flickered to the windows of the bar. Outside on the runway, airplanes waited with their landing gear swirled in misty wisps of fog.
“Excuse me? Sorry, Terrence, it’s hard to hear.” Like the fog around the planes, celebratory sounds swirled around her. Music, glasses clinking. “Did you say you’re in San Francisco?”
“Aye. I thought maybe we could get together.” He swallowed. “Have dinner.” He could be with her in less than an hour. Her flat in downtown San Francisco was easy to get to on BART.
Silence sat between them, then finally she said, “I’m so sorry, but I’m not there. I’m in Bodega Bay. I’m working on a project here.”
Bodega Bay. Where she grew up. Where her sisters lived. Where he lived.
This would be the off-season in the sleepy northern California seaside town. The restaurants shouldn’t be so busy, so noisy. So, she was at a party. A large party from the sound of it.
Then he remembered. It was Valentine’s Day. He wasn’t a detective for nothing.
He held his half-empty glass against his forehead. He hadn’t sent her a card, flowers, anything—but then, she wouldn’t have expected him to do so. Now he fervently wished he had. He could have included a note, said something conciliatory that would reopen communications between them.
Silence, then he heard her expel a soft breath. “Did something happen? Is your family all right?”
“They’re fine.” He forced his pride down into a hole he’d never sent it to before. “I need to see you, Anne.”
“Oh.” Her voice turned wary, and he felt her drifting away.
He made himself go on, try to hold on to that disappearing tendril of her attention, bring her back to their conversation. “We need to talk.”
“You haven’t sent me the papers. I was wondering what was taking so long. Was I supposed to do something?” Her tone was cool, no hint that she still wanted him to change his mind about the annulment.
“I haven’t sent you anything because I haven’t done anything.”
“Oh?” This time the word was soft, confused.
“I miss you.” He closed his eyes, his longing overtaking him.
“What did you say? I’m sorry, Terrence, it’s hard to hear you.”
Christ, had he said that out loud? He cleared his throat. “I said I need to talk to you.”
“I can’t. Not tonight.” The noise in the background got louder and someone spoke to her and she responded, “Just a minute, I’ll be right there. Just finishing up a call.”
Stung by the casual tone of her words, he realized how little his call meant to her. She was anxious to get back to her friends. Or to him?
“Never mind, Anne. This is obviously a bad time. I’ve got to get back to Scotland anyway. I was over here on some business, and thought I’d call to see how you’re doing. I’ll be flying out later tonight.” He didn’t bother to tell her his business had been on the other side of the country, that coming to San Francisco had meant a three-thousand-mile detour. Maybe he could still get a flight back home tonight.
He heard her draw in her breath, then her words rushed out. “Can we talk tomorrow? Meet someplace? I can come down to the city.”
Relief washed through his veins; she hadn’t told him to go away. But his jealousy didn’t let him leave well enough alone. “Where’s the party?”
She didn’t speak at first, then said, “The Grainger Art Colony. That’s where the job I’m working on is.”
Damn, damn, and damn it all to bloody hell.
He’d seen her photograph with Andrew Grainger in a magazine he’d flipped through in the lobby of his hotel in Virginia. Andrew Grainger. An artist, and probably not coincidentally, her sister Meg’s husband’s brother.
Reid had felt physically ill when he’d realized that the woman in the photograph was Anne. Grainger was holding her hand and looking at her as if she were his. They looked elegant and happy. A couple. He’d thought desperately that maybe she had just been doing her sister’s husband a favor by attending the gallery opening with his brother. But when Reid examined the picture, he’d recognized the expression on the other man’s face. He’d seen it on his own face.
Andrew Grainger was in love with her.
Reid had made himself read the article, hoping for some logical explanation, but it was about Grainger and a big art auction that was being held for some of his paintings, not about Anne. A widower, the article said, and the paintings he’d sold were of his late wife, a ballerina. The only mention of Anne was in the caption of the photograph, and as she had never taken Reid’s name, they had used her maiden name.
But if she was working on a job there, maybe there was an innocent explanation for the photo. No, a job didn’t explain the hand-holding, or the way the other man had been looking at her.
Reid struggled for normalcy. “Are you staying at the Mermaids?”
“Yes, Jeanne is almost ready to open for business.” Anne’s youngest sister, recently widowed herself, was turning their family’s seaside home, whimsically named the Mermaids of Bodega Bay, into a Bed and Breakfast.
Surely that was a good sign. If Anne and Andrew Grainger were lovers, wouldn’t she be staying with him? His heart aching with hope, he decided to push her. “Can’t we meet later tonight? I’ll drive up there.” He looked at his watch. He’d need to pick up a rental car, then an hour and a half to get there, surely he could make it by ten?
“I really can’t tonight. Tomorrow?” Her voice was affectionate, another good sign.
He frowned. “When’s the party over?”
“How late? I can’t get there until about ten anyway.”
“How about lunch tomorrow?” Now her tone was evasive, and a black liquid dread rushed through him. Was she going to spend the night with Andrew Grainger? He tried to tell himself she wouldn’t sleep with another man, even with as bad as things were between them. But he knew better. Knew her better. Knew he shouldn’t have come, knew he needed to leave.
Careful not to show his devastation, he made his voice icy. “I’d rather a quick breakfast. Then I can get an earlier flight out from San Francisco after we’ve talked. Settled things.” He drew himself up, made his face impassive, hoping his pretense of indifference would carry through the phone. He’d saved his pride, ensured that she didn’t think he was begging her to come back to him, but if they met for breakfast, at least he’d get to see her.
He couldn’t leave without seeing her. Not after being so close.
It had been so long.
About Author Mary Birk..
Mary Birk lives in Colorado with her husband, David, on what her husband terms “Hell’s Two-and-a- Half Acres.” Before embarking on writing fiction, she authored the Colorado Pretrial Handbook, published in 2008, and reissued in 2011 by Bradford Publishing Company. She has been named a Library Journal SELF-E Select author.
Mermaids of Bodega Bay is the first book in the Terrence Reid/Anne Michaels series. It was named a SELF-e Top Book of the Year for 2016 by Library Journal, and was a finalist for the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold award in 2013. The second book in the series, The First Cut, won the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold award in 2014. Less Than A Treason, the third book in the series, set in a Scottish castle at Christmas, is being followed this spring by the fourth book in the series, Most Gracious Advocate.
Links to Mary’s Website, Books, & Social Media:
Amazon: Mermaids of Bodega Bay
Amazon: The First Cut
Amazon: Less Than a Treason
Nook: Mermaids of Bodega Bay
Kobo: Mermaids of Bodega Bay
Kobo: The First Cut
Smashwords: Mermaids of Bodega Bay
Smashwords: The First Cut
I hope you enjoy the recipe Mary is sharing today on Karen’s Killer Fixin’s. Happy eating!
P.S. We’re at 299 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.
This pasta, developed with the help of my sister, Lori Price (a fabulous cook), was featured in The Mermaids of Bodega Bay. Hearty enough to be a meal by itself with the simple addition of a tossed salad, it can also be served as a side dish, or combined with chicken breast for those who like a lot of meat (on the other hand, taking out the bacon/pancetta and changing the broth from chicken to vegetable, will make it vegetarian – though not vegan). It is extremely forgiving, and measurements, as well as ingredients, can be altered according to taste and what’s on hand.
WILD MUSHROOM PASTA
3 tbsp. olive oil
3 oz. pancetta, chopped, or 6 oz. meaty center-cut bacon, chopped (use less oil if using bacon instead of pancetta, or more if the pan seems to need more)
2 large shallots, or one large onion, chopped
2 tbsp. minced fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried thyme)
10-16 oz. fresh wild mushrooms, such as cremini, shitake, chanterelles, or oyster porcini, cleaned and sliced (I buy the already-sliced mixed selection from the local grocery store)
Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 ½ c. low-sodium chicken broth
12 oz. dry golden egg pappardelle (or fettucine)
1 ½ c. heavy cream
¾ c. dry vermouth or dry white wine
½ c. walnuts, chopped
½ c. grated or shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Chopped fresh parsley (for garnish)
In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the pancetta, or bacon, until brown and crispy to taste. Add the shallots, or onions, and thyme, and sauté until shallots are brown. Add the mushrooms and sauté until tender, seasoning with salt and pepper. Add the vermouth, or wine, and cook at medium-high heat until it reduces down by ½.. Add broth and reduce over medium-high heat. Add cream until heated.
Prepare pasta according to package directions, drain, and place in large serving bowl. Ladle sauce over pasta immediately, add walnuts, and mix. Sprinkle cheese and parsley on top and serve immediately with a mixed-green salad as an accompaniment. Serves 4 as a main dish, 6 as a side dish.