Friday, March 5, 2021

A Side of Murder - An Interview, Review, & Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Amy Pershing to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Amy writes the Cape Cod Foodie Mystery series. A SIDE OF MURDER is the first book in the series and was released last week.

Kathy: Samantha Barnes was always a foodie. Do you consider yourself a foodie?

AP: I am a hopeless foodie. I’ve edited cookbooks, reviewed restaurants and pretty much eaten my way around the world. I blame my mother for this (in a nice way, of course). My mother was a foodie before foodies were even invented. She taught me that you cannot put too much butter on anything and when in doubt, consult Julia Child. She also knew that good food -- prepared with love and shared with those you loved -- was community.

Kathy: In A SIDE OF MURDER Samantha inherits a dilapidated house and an enormous puppy. Have you ever wanted to renovate a dilapidated house?

AP: I have lived in a dilapidated house for 30 years and I STILL want to renovate it! Mostly, though, we just try to keep it from falling down ;)

Kathy: Do you have an enormous puppy? Or any furkids?

AP: When our boys were young, we had the most wonderful dog in the world, an Australian shepherd named Ray. I know other people think they have (or had) the most wonderful dog in the world, but they are wrong. Ray was the standard by which all other dogs are judged, and we miss her mightily. Because my husband and I travel a great deal, we’ve put off other furkids until we settle down a bit. I do have a grand-kitty named Zero who lives in Singapore. She is the best cat in the world.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

AP: It all started with Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple series. Think about the “recipe,” if you will, for Jane Marple’s enduring appeal. She lives in a small town in which (or near which) a fairly remarkable number of murders seem to happen. She is an amateur sleuth who uses her native intelligence and her insight into human character to solve ingenious mysteries. She spends an inordinate amount of time eating, most notably at the tea table. That, I think, checks all the cozy boxes!

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

AP: Not at the moment. But who knows what the future will bring!

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

AP: The Cape Cod Foodie mysteries feature Samantha Barnes, a disgraced but resilient ex-chef, who retreats home to Cape Cod after her life in the Big Apple is derailed. While Sam tries to balance her new job as the local paper’s “Cape Cod Foodie” with her complicated love life, a posse of just-slightly-odd friends, a falling-down house and a ginormous dog, she also discovers new talents – a propensity for falling over dead bodies … and for solving crime.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?

AP: Well, I’ve got to say Samantha Barnes. I mean, Sam’s everything I’m not. Tall (really tall, like, over-six-feet-tall kind of tall), brave (wait until you see her take on the guy who kicks her dog!), funny and snarky (I am boringly polite), and a terrific cook (I’m good, but I’m not Sam-level good). Plus, and this is where we’re soul sisters, she believes in the primary importance of food, friends and family. Cooking for and/or sharing a meal with people you love is, in my opinion, one of life’s great gifts.

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?

AP: It all goes back to my mother, again. On top of turning me into a foodie (see above), she fed my mystery addiction with my first Nancy Drew, my first Agatha Christie, my first Sue Grafton. And it was Mom who every summer packed me and my four siblings (and various dogs and cats) into our Volkswagen bus and drove us to Cape Cod, where we joined our vast – and extremely loud -- extended family sailing, swimming, clamming and, of course, eating.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

AP: Writing is a reward in itself, but there is a deep need, I think, to share your creativity with others. I was very lucky to find a wonderful agent who helped me do that. Hence my undying gratitude to her and to my wonderful publishers, Berkley Books.

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?

AP: Only four? Agatha Christie, of course, because she is my patron saint. Elizabeth Strout in the hope that she will channel her incredible character Olive Kitteredge. Patrick O’Brien, to thank him for his enormously entertaining Aubrey–Maturin series set in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. And Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for Americanah, which helped me see with new eyes.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

AP: I tend to read several books at once, so currently: Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner, A Lady’s Formula for Love by Elizabeth Everett, Leslie Budewitz’s The Solace of Bay Leaves, and Tom Stoppard: A Life by Hermione Lee.

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?

AP: Sure! Reading. Cooking. Sailing. Hence, the Cape Cod Foodie mysteries!

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.

AP: 1) Extra virgin olive oil from Italy or California 2) Italian pasta 3) Canned San Marzano tomatoes 4) Onions. This way I am only a half hour away from a lovely dinner of linguine with tomato sauce whenever I feel the urge.

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

AP: The next book in the series is called AN EGGNOG TO DIE FOR, and I think it's hilarious (as every holiday murder mystery should be!). Plus, Sam cooks a Christmas Eve Feast of the Five Fishes. I'm currently working on Book 3, MURDER IS NO PICNIC, in which Sam investigates the death of a famous cookbook author -- and gets to judge the best lobster roll on Cape Cod. I am looking forward to the research on that ;)

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?

AP: Writing. It is a joy.



A SIDE OF MURDER by Amy Pershing
The First Cape Cod Foodie Mystery

After inheriting her aunt's house, Chef Samantha Barnes returns to Cape Cod. The timing is perfect as it allows Sam to hide from the notoriety of the viral video of her fight with another chef, the man who is now her ex-husband. Though she considers her stint on the Cape short term, flipping the house and moving on, Sam soon finds herself owning a dog and writing foodie pieces for the local paper. But Sam soon finds herself enmeshed in life on the Cape after she finds a dead body. Though the police deem it an accidental death, Sam is troubled by inconsistencies and decides she may want to report on more than food. Now Sam is coming to grips with her past and learning to live in the present as she searches for answers. Will she find a murderer, or will a murderer find her?
A SIDE OF MURDER is a story about finding your purpose in life. It's about discovering where you belong as well as celebrating food and friendship. It's also a story about lessons. Even when bad things happen, you can learn from it and find a better path; perhaps the path you were meant to be on. 

The first Cape Cod Mystery is more of a traditional mystery than a cozy. Though there is nothing graphic, there are some unpleasant details and violence against animals. (Don't worry, cozy rules for the dog are applied.) I really liked the characters. Despite her faults Sam is a likeable protagonist. She's strong, albeit perhaps a bit headstrong, and tends to use juvenile sounding slang, making me question her age...or perhaps mine. I adore Diogi and Helene is my favorite human in the bunch, with her avant garde look and down to earth wisdom. The descriptive talk about food made my mouth water-and I don't even like seafood! I am still drooling over the lamb and wish I could have joined Sunday dinner.

Using first person point of view, Sam often gives asides to the reader, either sharing cooking tips or commenting about things to come with foreknowledge. While I appreciate the cooking tips, adding them to the narrative slows the momentum of the story. Sam doesn't need to give readers hints that something bad is going to happen either. The mystery itself was complex with lots of twists and turns along with more than one surprise!

The author's love for food, cooking, and sailing shines through giving the mystery plenty of Cape Cod flavor and a definite sense of place. A SIDE OF MURDER is a delicious start to a new series and I look forward to Sam's continuing adventures.

 A Side of Murder (A Cape Cod Foodie Mystery) by Amy Pershing

About A Side of Murder

A Side of Murder (A Cape Cod Foodie Mystery)
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series
Publisher: Berkley (February 23, 2021)
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages

Beautiful Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is known for seafood, sand, surf and now … murder.

Samantha Barnes was always a foodie. And when the CIA (that’s the Culinary Institute of America) came calling, she happily traded in Cape Cod for the Big Apple. But then the rising young chef’s clash with another chef (her ex!) boils over and goes viral. So when Sam inherits a house on the Cape and lands a job writing restaurant reviews, it seems like the perfect pairing. What could go wrong? Well, as it turns out, a lot.  

The dilapidated house comes with an enormous puppy. Her new boss is, well, bossy. And the town’s harbor master is none other than her first love. Nonetheless, Sam’s looking forward to reviewing the Bayview Grill—and indeed the seafood chowder is divine. But the body in the pond outside the eatery was not on the menu. Sam is certain this is murder. But as she begins to stir the pot, is she creating a recipe for her own untimely demise?


“Cape Cod provides a stunning background for a debut that offers the ideal combination of mystery, romance, and recipes.” Kirkus Reviews

“An exquisite Cape Cod setting, a shamed but resilient chef, murderous secrets, and a long-buried but still steaming romance… Amy Pershing’s debut mystery will leave you longing for a seaside vacation, complete with fried clams and the next book in her charming series.” Lucy Burdette, national bestselling author of THE KEY LIME CRIME

“This is one of the freshest, funniest murder mysteries I’ve ever read. I fell absolutely in love with Samantha Barnes — the brave, sarcastic, crime-solving, relatable heroine we’ve all been waiting for. A Side of Murder is a rich, satisfying meal that delights from beginning to end, and Amy Pershing is a wonderful and clever author.” Elizabeth Gilbert, #1 New York Times bestselling author of EAT PRAY LOVE and CITY OF GIRLS

“A delicious mystery lovingly set in Cape Cod featuring a cast of charming characters. Amy Pershing writes with a fresh fun voice that will delight cozy fans. Chef turned restaurant critic Samantha Barnes proves a clever sleuth whose helpful cooking tips will be a big hit with culinary readers.” Krista Davis, New York Times bestselling author of the DOMESTIC DIVA mysteries  

About Amy Pershing

Amy Pershing is a lifelong mystery lover and wordsmith who spent every summer of her childhood on Cape Cod. In her previous incarnations she was an assistant editor at Viking Penguin, a restaurant reviewer for Playbill magazine’s Restaurant Reporter, and a journalist at the Rome (Italy) Daily American before eventually going on to lead employee communications at a global bank. A few years ago (with the final college tuition bill paid), she waved goodbye to Wall Street in order to write full time (and spend more time sailing on Cape Cod!). A Side of Murder is the first book in the Cape Cod Foodie mystery series featuring Samantha Barnes, a disgraced but resilient ex-chef and the world’s most reluctant YouTube star. While Sam tries to balance her new job as the local paper’s “Cape Cod Foodie” with her complicated love life, a posse of just-slightly-odd friends, a falling-down house and a ginormous puppy, she also discovers a new talent – a propensity for falling over dead bodies … and for solving crime.





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  1. Thanks so much for your kind and thoughtful words, Kathy. The book is indeed about finding your path!

  2. Your book sounded intriguing even before I read the interview. Now, it's a must-read!

  3. I love the cover of this book and hope to get it soon to read it. It looks like a really good read.

  4. This book sounds like a fantastic read. Would love to read and review the book(s) in print format. Love the book cover. This book sounds intriguing and mysterious.
    Excerpt is great. Enjoyed reading the review of book.
    Hope I Win

  5. I haven't read any books by this author yet, it sounds good.

  6. I love Cape Cod! Thank you for the opportunity to visit a favorite setting via my armchair. :)

  7. The book sounds interesting.

  8. Just love the cover and also this sounds like a good book. Have fun touring with the book and reading all the comments. peggy clayton

  9. Sounds like a great new series. Looking forward to reading the book.