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, DOROTHY ST. JAMES, and her favorite recipe for Penn’s Moon Benne Wafer Cookies!
A BOOK CLUB TO DIE FOR
A Beloved Bookroom Mystery 3
BY DOROTHY ST. JAMES
Murder at a Book Club.
An Open and Shut Case.
Or Is it?
The Cypress Arete Society is the town’s oldest and most respected book club. It’s also the most exclusive. When Trudell Beckett, the town’s spunky assistant librarian, is invited to speak to the club about the library, its modernization, and her efforts to bring printed books to the reading public at one of the book club meetings, Trudell’s friend Flossie invites herself along. Flossie has been on the waiting list for five years and she’s determined to find out why she’s never received an invitation to join. The leader of the club is Rebecca White, a star of the local theater. Trudell and Flossie arrive early to the meeting to find Rebecca lying on the floor dead.
The main suspect for the murder is Detective Jace Bailey’s mother, Hazel, the host for the meeting. The murder weapon is a gift Hazel received as a wedding present forty years earlier. Jace, removed from the case due to an obvious conflict of interest, convinces Trudell to help him investigate and prove his mother’s innocence.
LIBRARY JOURNAL STARRED REVIEW!
“Loyalty, romance, and Southern mores are highlighted in this pleasant cozy..” ~ Kirkus Reviews
Librarians are keepers of knowledge, caretakers of truth, and sowers of wisdom. Many of us rush out to share the world with our communities with the enthusiasm of a child who has suddenly mastered a new skill. We want people to know, to know . . . well, everything.
This is our mission. This is our passion.
We are the bringers.
We are the beacons cutting through the darkest of nights.
I should be thrilled to be able to provide this service to the Arete Society, the town’s most influential book club. So why did I have this sudden desire to turn around, march back to my car, and drive home as fast as my old Camry would take me?
I’d been asked to give a presentation. I’d been tasked with sharing my knowledge of books and my experiences working at the library with a group of ladies who love books as much as I do. I lived for moments like this.
“Trudell Becket, what’s got you dragging your feet like this?” Flossie Finnegan-Baker turned her wheelchair toward me. “I do believe a cornucopia of slugs just passed us.”
“Cornucopia? Of slugs?” I asked. That couldn’t be right. But before she could explain that a group of slugs was indeed called a cornucopia, I said, “Never mind.” Flossie was rarely wrong when it came to grammar and etymology. Besides, slugs weren’t important. “This,” I said. “This is a mistake.” I felt the truth of it like a stone in my gut. I stood in the middle of the long, winding sidewalk leading up to Hazel Bailey’s front porch and scrunched my eyes closed. “I shouldn’t be here.”
“You’re suffering from a case of the jitters.” My friend touched my hand. I looked at her, and she smiled encouragingly at me. Flossie had dressed for the book club meeting in muted shades of turquoise and tan. The colors spiraled together on her long, homemade tie-dyed dress, but it was quite a shift from the bright (and often) clashing colors she usually wore. She’d attached a large golden pin in the shape of Edgar Allan Poe’s face to the collar of the thick white button-up sweater she’d worn over her dress. “Honey, even I get the jitters every time I do something new. Everyone does. That’s why you brought me. To have your back. And I do. I’ve got your back. And you’ve got this. Let’s go.”
Our host lived at the edge of town in the middle of a forest of cypress trees that gave the town its name. The cypresses’ silvery trunks stood tall and straight, like the spines of books on a shelf, gleaming in the fading embers of the sunset.
Books were the reason I’d been asked to speak to the Arete Society. And those same books were the reason I couldn’t go through with it.
Sure, I’d been excited at the opportunity to share my experiences working as an assistant librarian. Nearly as excited as Flossie was now. My friend started spinning pirouettes with her wheelchair on the sidewalk in front of me.
This invitation meant that finally the town was taking me and my work at the library seriously. Finally, the townspeople saw me. And most of them even knew my name.
“Tonight! Tonight!” Flossie sang happily. “Tru, you do know what an honor it is to be here tonight, don’t you?”
The Arete Society wasn’t simply a book club. It was known throughout the state as the best and most prestigious book club. They rarely invited anyone outside their membership to speak at their meetings. Being asked to make a presentation was like being invited to dine at the governor’s mansion. No, this was better. The current governor was rather unpopular.
It wasn’t until we were walking up to the house that it had hit me.
“Rebecca invited me to talk about my work with the books at the library,” I said, still unwilling to move any closer to Hazel’s house.
“Yes, dear.” Flossie tilted her head and gave me a searching look. “I know why we’re here. That’s one reason why it’s so exciting.”
“Yes, but Rebecca wants me to talk about my work with the books at the library.” I shivered in the cool January air. Even though Cypress was in the middle of balmy South Carolina, it still experienced occasional winter cold snaps. A sharp northern breeze rattled the branches in the trees above us. “I shouldn’t have agreed to come.”
“Oh, go on with you. I’m sure you can steer the conversation,” Flossie said, now grinning like a teen going out on her first date. This was really a big night for her.
But could I pull it off? Most of my work at the library was a secret. While half of the book club members were in on the secret, the other half had no idea I’d set up an unauthorized bookroom in the library’s basement.
“Just talk about why you carry around that tote bag of yours and dodge any questions about where the books came from,” Flossie suggested.
“That’s not going to work. I shouldn’t have even brought the tote bag. What is wrong with me? I’d been so dazzled by the invitation that I completely ignored the problem with my being here.” I held up the tote bag as if it were filled with explosives.
I’d filled the canvas tote with books I thought the ladies attending tonight would enjoy.
“I don’t understand. You’re a modern-day book-hauling Robin Hood,” Flossie said. “That’s something you should be proud of. That’s something to be celebrated.”
“I can’t be here because of Lida Farnsworth.” My boss. My intimidating boss, who was possibly the cleverest woman in town. Cypress’s head librarian had been a member of the Arete Society for longer than anyone could remember. “I’d forgotten that she would be here. Well, I knew she would be here, but I didn’t stop to consider what her listening to my talk might mean.”
“So? She should be just as proud of you as I am.” Flossie still didn’t get it.
“When I start to hand out the books from my tote bag, Mrs. Farnsworth will recognize them as library books. You know, the same library books that were supposed to have been removed from the library? If she ever discovers I converted her library’s basement into a secret bookroom without her consent, I will be out of a job before you can say ‘Bob’s your uncle.'”
Dorothy St. James is the author of several cozy mystery series. She lives in the Lowcountry of South Carolina with her family and neurotic pets. She often can be found at the local library, searching for her next favorite read. You can also find Dorothy on social media at:
Or sign up for her enewsletter at www.dorothystjames.com
* Dorothy St. James is the alter-ego of award-winning multi-published author, Dorothy McFalls. She enjoys writing in several different genres. Her works have been nominated for many awards including: Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, Reviewers International Organization Award, National Reader’s Choice Award, CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Award, and The Romance Reviews Today Perfect 10! Award. Reviewers have called her work: “amazing”, “perfect”, “filled with emotion”, and “lined with danger.”
Links to Dorothy’s website, blog, books, #ad, etc.:
Amazon Kindle: https://amzn.to/3WLLU7A
Amazon Hardback: https://amzn.to/3N6Wcfk
Pick up your copy of A BOOK CLUB TO DIE FOR at your local bookseller. Or find it online: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/611280/a-book-club-to-die-for-by-dorothy-st-james/
I hope you enjoy the recipe Dorothy is sharing today on Karen’s Killer Fixin’s. Happy Eating!
P.S. We’re at 642 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.
COPYRIGHT NOTICE: If an author’s favorite recipe isn’t their own creation and came from an online site, you will now find the entire recipe through the link to that site as a personal recommendation. Thank you.
This recipe first appeared in IN COLD CHOCOLATE the 4th book in Dorothy’s Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery series. Penn, the main character in the book, dreamed up the cookie and developed the recipe while solving a mystery.
These simple black and white chocolate cookies are perfect for cookie swaps or a way to add a touch of elegance to your parties. Your friends will be begging you for your recipe while asking for more.
½ cup of sesame seeds (important for the wafer’s distinctive taste)
½ cup of all-purpose flour (gluten free flours also work with the recipe)
½ tsp of baking powder
Pinch of salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
1 bag of white chocolate chips
1 bag of fair trade dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure the oven rack is in the center position for an even cooking.
Toast the sesame seeds by heating them in a dry pan over medium-low heat. You want the seeds to turn a light golden color, so they’ll release their flavors. Keep a close eye on them, you don’t want them to burn.
In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, and salt.
In an electric mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar together until smooth and creamy. Add the egg and vanilla extract. Mix at a lower speed until combined. Add the flour mixture continue to mix at the lower speed until the batter is smooth. Add the toasted sesame seeds and fold in with a spoon.
Line the baking sheets with parchment paper or a baking liner. Using a teaspoon, drop the dough onto the baking sheet. You can use the back of the spoon to help form a round shape in order to make sure your cookies come out moon shaped. Leave about 2 inches between the dough. The cookies will spread. Yes, you want them to spread!
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges of the cookies turn a dark brown. (This is important, otherwise your wafers won’t have that delightful snap.) Let cook on the baking sheet for 2 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Melt the white chocolate chips using either a double boiler or following the microwave directions on the bag. Using a tablespoon, coat the top of the cookies with the melted white chocolate. Place cookies in refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour to cool.
Melt the dark chocolate chips using either a double boiler or following the microwave directions on the bag. Using a tablespoon, coat the bottom of the cookies with the melted dark chocolate. Place cookies in refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour to cool.
Thanks, Dorothy, for sharing your book with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!