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, SHIRLEY SPAIN, and her favorite recipe for CAPTIVATING PICNIC CAKE and BEN’S FAVORITE BACON BISCUITS!
BURIED AT TUMBLE LAKE
A Tumble Lake Thriller Book 1
BY SHIRLEY SPAIN
While Louise and Ben, her black Labrador retriever, are out on their morning walk around the lake, Ben discovers a severed hand. He leads Louise to the rest of the body, but they end up crossing paths with the masked killer. Assaulted and left for dead, when Louise regains consciousness, the body is nowhere to be found.
Could the killer be a member of the Guns, Poisons, and Daggers group of mystery writers who booked cabins for the upcoming weekend? Perhaps a writer taking novel research a bit too far? As the hunt for the killer and the missing body escalates, Louise must convince police she knows the murderer’s identity before she becomes the next body in the name of the killer’s twisted novel research.
Introducing Louise Tumble, a saucy senior widow with a knack for crossing paths with killers. Lou, as she prefers, is the town’s mayor and co-owner of the Tumble Lake Trading Post. Her trademark waist-long silver hair is usually streaked bright pink, purple or green. Strong-willed and outspoken, yet often generous to a fault, beneath her spunky personality dwells the torturous hell of her husband’s unsolved murder.
Over twenty years ago, Tom Tumble, the town’s police chief, was gunned down. Literally had his head blown off. His killer never found. Though the case has gone cold, Louise clings to the hope her husband’s killer will be brought to justice. She never relents in search of clues that might lead to the capture of Tom’s murderer. Through years of asking, digging, and following her gut feelings, Louise developed a sixth sense many bona fide detectives would envy. That intuition leaped to the next level when she adopted Ben, her canine companion. Together, they’re a force to be reckoned with; a force that will combine to solve Tom’s case. Someday. At least that’s her hope.
Tumble Lake Trail.
Ben’s Smelly Treasure.
“Good God, Ben.” Louise wrinkled her nose and clasped her hand over her mouth at the stench.
Grayish brown mud coated the black Labrador’s front legs, chest, and nose. Something stinking to high heaven and resembling a sprouted potato hung out of his mouth.
“What kind of smelly treasure did you dig up for me this time?”
Based on the putrid smell, she figured the dog found carrion. It wasn’t the first time Ben rooted out a piece of a dead animal and presented it to her like a gift. Doubted it would be the last.
Cougars often stashed their prey, burying them in leaves to feast on later. Bears did the same. Although there hadn’t been a bear sighting within two-hundred miles of the lake in years.
Ben dropped his muddy potato-like treasure on Louise’s lap, looked at her, and barked.
She recoiled at the foul smell of his breath.
A mere glimpse at the mud-covered wad on her bare leg shot Louise to her feet. She gasped. Wildly brushed her hands against her bare thighs to rid herself of the disgusting hunk that sure as hell wasn’t an old potato or part of a dead animal.
The stiff curled fingers of the rotting hand led to a disturbing possibility: someone had been murdered and buried at Tumble Lake.
Louise settled onto the east-facing bench positioned right off the Tumble Lake trail. She unsnapped Ben’s leash and waved her hand. “Go have fun.”
Ben’s first order of business: Lift his leg to urinate on the Honoring the Fallen – Thin Blue Line memorial staked into the ground next to the bench. Preacher Timothy had hand-carved the shield-shaped, gallon milk jug-sized memorial a few weeks after Tom’s murder.
“What is it about that plaque that compels you to mark it every time we come up here? Does it have sentimental value because it was the first thing you lifted your leg on when you hit puberty?” She pulled a face. “Or do you dislike Preacher Timothy that much you take a disrespectful leak on his wood-carving?”
Ben glanced up at her as if confirming the latter, then nose to the ground, he dashed off the dirt trail into the woods behind her. Although they had walked around the lake almost every day since Ben was a pup, he acted as if it were the first time he had explored the wilderness.
“Ah, to have the adventurous mind-set of a dog.” Her lips curved into a smile filled with admiration. She coiled the leash, stuffed it into her shorts pocket, and watched her canine companion disappear into the thick forest. “God-only-knows what you’ll bring back this time.”
She inhaled a long deep breath, filling her lungs with the pine-scented cool air, and slowly exhaled.
The sun had risen over Tumble Mountain about an hour ago. Wild grasses skirting the shoreline swayed in the faint summer breeze. Trout jumping for insects created circular ripples in the otherwise placid water as it shimmered in the sun’s brilliant rays. And the grating caws of chattering crows filled the air.
“It’s another beautiful morning on your mountain, Tom.” Two decades ago Louise had spread her husband’s ashes at that spot.
Shortly after his death, she commissioned a sculptor to create a life-sized bronze statue of Tom standing and looking over the lake. Next to the figure, a bronze park bench. Etched into the armrest: Tom’s View. She skimmed her fingertips over the words.
“Tom, it’s For the Thrill of It Thursday, so to celebrate, Roxy’s gonna streak my hair fuchsia. I wanted to do something to spiff up my salt and pepper mane.” She combed her fingers through her waist-long locks. “Roxy said the color will wash out in a few weeks.”
Louise, who friends call Lou, strolled around Tumble Lake every morning, just as she and Tom had done all their married life. Now she stopped at his statue and talked to her late husband’s spirit, updating him on the happenings around town and in her life.
“Last time we talked, I forgot to mention that I booked the cabins for a long weekend to a club calling themselves Guns, Poisons, and Daggers. Aubrey, the gal making the reservation, explained they’re murder mystery writers.” She chuckled. “As if I couldn’t have figured that out on my own.
“Aubrey said she was going to drive up last night to stock the kitchen with food and look around the lake. She wanted to plan some sort of scavenger hunt for the club.”
She pursed her lips and wobbled her head back and forth. “I told Aubrey if she didn’t mind a little dust and brought a sleeping bag, she was welcome to come early and stay at no extra cost. She was supposed to check-in at the trading post so I could give her a tour of the cabins and let her into the clubhouse. But Aubrey never showed.” She let out a huff of disgust. “Didn’t even have the courtesy to let me know she wasn’t coming.”
Louise gazed out at the lake and shifted in her seat. After a few silent moments, she cleared her throat. “Jason Paxton’s going to help me prep the cabins at the crack of dawn tomorrow, so I won’t be back for our morning visit until Saturday.” She nibbled her lip, lowered her head, and caressed her well-worn gold wedding band. “It’s been 8,051 days since your life was stolen from me. I miss you, Tom. Your brother’s been a godsend and the town folks treat me like family. And honestly, I don’t know what I would do without Ben. I’ve never been closer to a dog. I swear, we can read each other’s minds. He’s a wonderful companion, but…”
She fought back tears. “I love you, Tom. I will always love you. And the hell of it is, you’re up there,” she glanced at the sky and over at the statue, “and I’m left down here. You’re gone.” Memories of Tom flooded her mind as she relived their intimate moments. “I miss your touch. Your strong arms holding me, warm hands caressing my body, the passion we had making love. I miss the human touch. I’m desperate for it. I crave it. Almost as much as I crave having one more hour with you.” She flicked her shoulders.
“I like Jason, and he likes me. Martha passed several years after you were murdered, so we’ve both been alone for a long time.” Her mouth dried. She rubbed her palms up and down on her thighs before sucking in a deep breath and gazing up at the heavens. “Tom, Jason and I are both lonely.”
Her eyes drifted to the lake as she sat in silence for a moment. “He makes me laugh.” Thoughts of Jason’s quirky sense of humor lightened her heart. “And he makes a wicked good bloody Mary.”
A songbird chirped nearby. A mild breeze whispered across her cheeks.
She raked her teeth over her bottom lip. “Being alone all these years has been hard for me, Tom. I can’t endure the emptiness I feel inside much longer.” Tears welled. “I hope you understand, My Eternal Love.”
Just then, a magnificent red-tail hawk caught her attention. Tom admired birds of prey. Revered them so much, he had a bald eagle tattooed across the width of his back.
The bird soared in a broad figure-eight pattern over the lake.
“How strange… and beautiful.” Fascinated, Louise cocked her head and watched the creature glide through the air, repeating the figure-eight pattern. “Ohhh.” She tapped her hand over her mouth as angel-bumps, not goose bumps, sprinkled her arms. “That’s the symbol for infinity.”
In all her years living at Tumble Lake, hiking the mountain trails, and bird watching with Tom, she had never seen a bird, any bird, fly in that pattern. Let alone a hawk making an infinity sign in the air as it soared.
Pleasing electric-like tingles coursed through body. She tapped a loose fist over her heart and stood, her eyes fixated on the hawk. “Tom…?”
The moment she whispered his name, the hawk turned its head, looked at her, then soared high into the sky, out of sight.
She pressed her palms together and tapped the sides of her index fingers against her lips. The hawk was a sign. A sign of approval. A message from her late husband giving his blessing for her to pursue a relationship with Jason. “Thank you, Tom. Thank you.”
The crackle of breaking twigs drew Louise’s attention. She swiveled her head and twisted her body to look into the thick cluster of pines and aspen behind the bench.
Ears flopping, Ben’s one-hundred-ten-pound mass mowed down everything in his path as he bounded out of the woods into the clearing. In his mouth, he carried a treasure. Typical. Ben’s explorations always led to the discovery of an old deer antler or part of a bone from a dead animal he had to have. Had to proudly show his mom.
This time, however, Ben’s unearthed treasure would cast a spell of suspicion on the tiny town of Tumble Lake and entangle Louise in the hunt for a killer.
Shirley resides in West Jordan, Utah, USA, with her husband and their four-legged children.
She is a graduate of the West Jordan Citizens Police Academy, a CERT member (Community Emergency Response Team) and a VIPS (Volunteers In Police Service) with the West Jordan police.
Shirley enjoys the variety of “research” opportunities her stories offer. She’s been on police “ride alongs,” conducted interviews with law enforcement experts regarding matters such as escaping handcuffs without a key and creating “dead man switches” for bombs.
With the help of willing accomplices, she’s role played scenes, including being “kidnapped” and thrown into a car, zipped up in a body bag, and locked in the trunk of a car, only to name a few a of her stunts!
One might be surprised at the many experiments she has done on herself—for novel research, of course—involving handcuffs, duct tape, chain, rope, hazmat suits, night vision headlamps…
She describes herself as someone who loves a challenge, thrives on learning new things, and is game to try just about anything once. Oh, and she’ll use any excuse to dress up.
Hmm. Keeping that in mind, when you read her novels you may wonder how many of the stunts described in the story Shirley might have tried on herself, or someone else … but she’ll never tell! Or will she? Visit her website to find out more. www.ShirleyASpain.com
Links to Shirley’s website, blog, books, #ad etc.:
I hope you enjoy the recipe Shirley is sharing today on Karen’s Killer Fixin’s. Happy Eating!
CAPTIVATING PICNIC CAKE
Warning: May fall prisoner to this ruthlessly luscious super moist cake!
2 c flour
1.5 c sugar
1 tsp soda
1 can pineapple NOT drained
Grease and flour 9×13 pan. Heat oven to 350º. Run pineapple through a blender. Mix all ingredients, adding pineapple last. Spread in prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. NOTE: This cake will be thin.
About 10 minutes before cake is done, prepare topping.
1.5 cubes butter
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c coconut (I love coconut, so I always add more)
Mix all ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Bring to boil and boil for 3 minutes.
1 c brown sugar
1 c chopped walnuts (I like nuts, so I always add more)
After baking cake, take cake out of oven but LEAVE OVEN TURNED ON. Sprinkle top of cake with brown sugar and walnuts. Prick entire top of cake then pour hot cooked topping over the brown sugar and walnuts. Return cake to oven for about 20 minutes until coconut is browned. Serve cool.
This recipe was my husband’s grandmother’s and has been passed down for generations. (I added the “captivating” part to the name of the cake as well as the “warning”.)
Thanks, Shirley, for sharing your book with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!