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9780425270295 (1)Aunt Ophie is back.

I have received so many emails, Facebook messages and face-to-face questions from readers demanding to know when they will get to hang out with Ophie again. So I have to tell you this straight up. In Caught Read-Handed, the second book of the Read ’Em and Eat cozy mystery series, Aunt Ophie has settled permanently in Fort Myers Beach.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou may recall that in the early pages of Well Read, Then Dead, the Agatha Award winning first novel of the series, Sassy Cabot and Bridgy Mayfield, BFFs and co owners of the Read ’Em and Eat bookstore and café—breakfast, lunch and all you can read—found themselves in deep trouble when chef Miguel Guerra fell in the kitchen and broke his leg.

Fortunately Bridgy’s aunt Ophelia immediately traveled to Fort Myers Beach from her home in Pinetta Florida, hundreds of miles to the north. She burst into the café on stylish, strappy bright pink high heels and brought along her own personal brand of southern charm. Ophie is a wiz in the kitchen but the words “clean up” are not in her vocabulary. Still, she has the ability to whip up delicious meals, not to mention her fabulous buttermilk pie. Sassy and Bridgy opt to tolerate the inevitable and are careful not to look a rescue horse in the mouth.

The Read ’Em and Eat is a haven for folks who love books and food. The tables are named for authors and decorated with their pictures and snippets of their work. Have a seat at Robert Frost. Alongside copies of his fruit poems, there’s his picture on the cover of a 1962 issue of Life Magazine. The book clubs are meeting regularly and Miguel is back in the kitchen. Miss Marple Scones, Green Eggs and Ham and Old Man and the Sea Chowder are basics on the menu. And I promise there is another murder for Sassy to try and solve.

Still you fret. What about Ophie? At the end of Well Read, Then Dead, Miguel is nearly ready to come back to work and there is no reason for Ophie not to travel back to her home in Pinetta. We’ve been left wondering…

One thing is for sure. Ophie never does what is expected so I was not surprised at all when, in the opening sentence of Caught Read-Handed, we find Ophie tapping her “extra-long shocking pink fingernails impatiently on the countertop beside the cash register.” And I was glad to see her, because the Read ’Em and Eat just wouldn’t be the same without her.

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