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Like most people, I love food, especially the food I eat on vacation in wonderful cafes, diners and restaurants tucked into scenic locations. These leisurely meals often become the most memorable moments of a trip.

Blue Lake is sort of a hidden tourist destination: it doesn’t do much to advertise itself, but visitors still find it. And when they’re strolling down its picturesque streets, they encounter some wonderful restaurants, like Willoughby’s Diner (where Lena has her first real meeting with Sam), Wheat Grass (an elegant eatery owned by Adam Rayburn), Coffee Dreams (which Lena enjoys in the current Blue Lake novel), and a variety of other wonderful places described in all of the books.

In the current novel, DEATH WITH A DARK RED ROSE, Lena meets a true culinary genius—someone who can make just about anything with an innate sense for how to put it together. Her first taste of his food is a caramel apple that he has transformed into something she’s never tasted before. Later, he makes parmesan chicken sandwiches, and then quiche.

Why so much food? Well, we all have something I would call food memory. That is, we feel nostalgic for good meals we’ve eaten—probably not just for the food itself, but for the circumstances in which we ate it. For example, Lena will always remember the breakfast she shared with Sam, and in her memory, no waffles will taste as delicious as the one she shared with him.

This notion of food memory can work well in a piece of fiction; it can make the setting feel authentic because we enjoy going into these fun eateries with our characters, and watching what they order. We can live vicariously through them, consuming everything from omelets to slices of birthday cake. Lena just so happens to be planning a birthday party for her employer and friend, Camilla Graham, and the culinary details of this party are also something the reader might find interesting.

Food becomes an important detail in any story because food is a reality that brings people together. In DEATH WITH A DARK RED ROSE, Lena will bond with people over food, and it will lead her into a dark and mysterious story.

Death With A Dark Red Rose

By Julia Buckley

A Writer’s Apprentice Mystery

Mass Market Paperback | $7.99

Published by Berkley

Feb 25, 2020 | 304 Pages

ISBN 9780451491930