Sunday, August 11, 2019


Risky Biscuits (A Sugar & Spice Mystery)

by Mary Lee Ashford


About the Book

Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series
Setting - Iowa 
Lyrical Underground (July 9, 2019)
Paperback: 190 pages 
ISBN-10: 1516105079
ISBN-13: 978-1516105076
Digital ASIN: B07JDXFM7G

Former magazine editor “Sugar” Calloway’s life has taken a delicious twist since she launched a community cookbook publishing business with blue-ribbon baker Dixie Spicer. Now these amateur sleuths must solve a small-town murder—without getting burned . .

Sugar and Spice Cookbooks’ newest project is a fundraiser organized by the St. Ignatius Crack of Dawn Breakfast Club, famous for their all-you-can-eat biscuits and gravy events. But when a group member is found dead, Sugar and Spice’s priorities change from raising dough to figuring out who put murder on the menu.
The return of former badboy Nick Marchant has stirred the town’s gossips too. Add a few grudges and some old-fashioned greed over a land deal into the mix, and it’s a recipe for mayhem. And when someone serves up a second helping of murder, Sugar and Spice need to sift the guilty from the blameless, or their next breakfast may be their last . . .

* Includes delicious recipes! *

Sugar Calloway, Sugar and Spice Mysteries, Kensington Books

Risky Biscuits by Mary Lee Ashford

Hello there, Sugar Calloway here. It’s so nice to meet you all. I’d love to sit and have a coffee or tea with you, but, my stars, it has been a busy morning already!

And now, I’ve only got a few minutes because I’m off to visit my landlady, Greer, at The Good Life retirement village. Bless her heart, she is all wound up because her friend Alma has gone missing. So please excuse my manners if I have to dash off.

I’m guessing you probably could hear a bit of my southern roots in my voice and so you may have guessed by now that I’m not a local here in St. Ignatius, Iowa. My southern comes through mostly when I’m excited and there’s been a lot of excitement here in the past couple of days. You see yesterday it was another lady, Bunny, who was missing from The Good Life. The ladies were all worried because without her they didn’t have enough people for their weekly pinochle game. Well, after driving around a bit, I found the dear walking home. You see Alma had taken her to the post office and forgot to come back and get her. These “golden girls” at The Good Life are beginning to worry me.

Hopefully we can locate Alma just as quickly and I can get back to the office because there’s plenty of work to be done there. You see, my friend Dixie and I run our own business. I used to be an editor at a big glossy food magazine, but I was down-sized right out the door. It wasn’t all bad though, because it gave me the chance to create a partnership with my friend and blue-ribbon baker, Dixie Spicer.

A side note: Some people in town call Dixie, Spicy. She says she got the nickname because of her red hair, but I’m pretty sure it’s also a comment on her personality. Dixie is very much a straight-forward, take-it-or-leave it, kind of person and I love that about her. Her nickname also worked well in helping us come up with a catchy name for our business – Sugar and Spice Cookbooks.

And speaking of which, at Sugar & Spice we publish community cookbooks – the kind your church or your kid’s soccer team puts together, usually using the sale of the books as a fund raiser. We’re currently working on a cookbook for the Crack of Dawn Breakfast Club right here in town. The club is made of mostly of retirees and they want to do the cookbook as a fund-raiser to refurbish the shelter house at the city park. A perfect project for us!

Dixie often tests the recipes for the cookbooks in the kitchen at the Sugar & Spice shop and I sure hope she’s got something cooking today. I’ve had nothing but my morning coffee and I am starving! Now Dixie is a great cook, but me not so much. So some mornings, if I have time, I run by the Red Hen Diner which is just across the town square from our shop. Toy George, the owner, makes the best blueberry muffins. But this morning I got the call from Greer about Alma and I was all discombobulated so no muffin for me.

The Red Hen is only one of the fun shops around the square. In the center is the Jameson County Courthouse, a beautiful structure built from native limestone, which I’m told was built in the late 1800s. The businesses that surround the square are mostly locally-owned from the aforementioned, Red Hen, to Graceland Wines, Travers Jewelry, Tressa’s Tresses, Quilting Time, nationally-known quilt shop, and Flashback, a memorabilia store with a rather colorful owner named, Disco.

Can you tell that I love my newly adopted hometown? St. Ignatius is one of those small towns where everyone knows everyone else… and most of the time that’s a good thing.

Well, I’m sorry to rush, but I’ve got to get to The Good Life and see what’s up before Greer has a hissy fit wondering where I am. She told me she and the other ladies called the county sheriff’s office but were told Alma couldn’t be considered a missing person until she’s been missing more than forty-eight hours.

I’d call up Sheriff Griffin and let him know what I think about that rule, but the man already has a burr in his saddle over the last time Dixie and I got involved in a situation that in his words was something “for law-enforcement to handle.”

So, until we can chat again, take care and keep your fingers crossed that today’s missing senior is found safe and sound.

Although RISKY BISCUITS is the second book in A Sugar & Spice Mystery series by Mary Lee Ashford, it reads just as well all on its own. Just like “Sugar” Calloway’' I felt right at home in the small community of St. Ignatius, Iowa. 

While the business Sugar runs with her partner, Dixie,"Spice" Spicer, is not open to the public, like other shops on the main street, the delicious smells coming from Dixie's kitchen keeps a steady stream of visitors walking in their door. And with them comes town news and gossip.

Sugar is renting a house from an elderly woman. In return, they have a friendship that has extended to the other residents of the independent living retirement community in which Greer lives. That includes offering rides and a helpful hand at times. Sugar and Spice are also working on publishing a cookbook of recipes from those same elderly residents, and members of The Crack of Dawn Breakfast Club. Fortunately for us, several of the top recipes are included at the end of this book!

When one of the elderly women goes missing and the police won't take it seriously for at least 48 hours, Sugar is recruited to help the other women investigate. After all, it isn't breaking and entering if you know where the key is kept, is it?

Lots of small town hijinx history, high school remembered romances, and a bad boy returned home, without this leopard changing his spots, it seems, as well as colorful idioms and phrases inspired by Sugar's Aunt Cricket, make this a fun read as well as a well shrouded mystery. When you feel you have it figured out, something else comes to your attention.

I can't wait for my next visit!

About Mary Lee Ashford

  Mary Lee Ashford is a lifelong bibliophile, and avid reader, and supporter of public libraries.
In addition to writing the Sugar & Spice mystery series for Kensington Books, she also writes as half of the writing team of Sparkle Abbey, author of the national bestselling Pampered Pets mystery series from Bell Bridge Books.
 Prior to publishing Mary Lee won first place in the Daphne du Maurier contest, sponsored by the Kiss of Death chapter of RWA, and was a finalist in Murder in the Grove’s mystery contest, as well as Killer Nashville’s Claymore Dagger contest. She is the founding president of Sisters in Crime – Iowa and a current board member of the Mystery Writers of America Midwest chapter, as well as a member of Novelists, Inc., Romance Writers of America, Kiss of Death the RWA Mystery Suspense chapter, Sisters in Crime, and the SinC internet group Guppies.
 Mary Lee has a passionate interest in creativity and teaches a university level course in Creative Management to MPA candidates, as well as presenting workshops and blogging about creativity. She loves encouraging other writers and is a frequent presenter on a variety of topics at workshops, conferences, and writers’ groups.
 In her day job, Mary Lee is a Deputy Chief Information Officer.
She currently resides in the Midwest with her husband, Tim, and Sparkle, the rescue cat namesake of the Sparkle Abbey pseudonym.
Her delights are reading and enjoying her family and especially her six grandchildren.

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