by Julia Buckley
While Christmas is still four months away for us in the real world, it’s come a little early in fictional Pine Haven, Illinois, and Lilah Drake, still recovering from a brush with murder and a fling with a handsome police detective, has started a new life, giving up her day job as a Real Estate office clerk and taking on a job she likes much better, working at Haven of Pine Haven, the premiere caterer in town. She’s ready for the holidays, and has even taken Christmas cards with an image of Mick, her beloved chocolate Lab, in a Santa hat.
Not Mick, but close: our puppy Digby.
She’s also still making secret food for her clients who pay to say they made it themselves. All in all, Lilah’s career trajectory is on the upswing, but she’s feeling sad as she drives to a local grade school to deliver pans of macaroni and cheese for a class Christmas party. When she sees a man dressed as Santa for the school event, she decides to ask him for some advice.
Not long afterward Lilah is getting back in her car and hears a strange sound; she looks across the parking lot to see that the poor Santa is lying in the snow, the victim of a single gunshot.
So, with Christmas only days away, Lilah must face the fact that someone out there might be worrying that she witnessed more than she did. She also has to face her one-time fling, Jay Parker of the Pine Haven P.D., and tell him that—for the second time—she has managed to be present at a murder.
Lilah’s problems are partially offset by her supportive family, who wrap her in their warm, protective embrace, and by the beauty of Pine Haven at Christmastime. She has always loved the garlands and the lights, the chilly air, the smiling people who choose to take a brief vacation from the stresses of life.
And like all of us, Lilah wants to have a Merry Christmas. In fact, when the Santa jokingly asks her what she wants for Christmas, she says “A second chance.”
In CHEDDAR OFF DEAD, readers will find out whether Lilah gets another chance with her one-time love interest, and whether an unknown murderer will decide that Lilah knows too much.
Get it in bookstores and on Amazon! CHEDDAR OFF DEAD: An Undercover Dish Mystery, by Julia Buckley, Berkley, September 6, 2016, $7.99.
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