Susan Oleksiw writes two mystery series, the Mellingham series featuring Chief of Police Joe Silva, and the Anita Ray series, featuring Indian-American photographer Anita Ray, who lives in India at a tourist hotel. Susan is also known for her reviews and articles on crime fiction, and was an editor for the Oxford to Crime and Mystery Writing (1999). Her first book in the mystery field is A Reader’s Guide to the Classic British Mystery (1988). One of the reasons she likes crime fiction is the way it allows her to explore contemporary behavior and problems, and the many different kinds of lives we live today. Learn more about Susan and her books at her website.
Last Call for Justice: A Mellingham Mystery grew out of a question a reader once asked me. Why don’t we know more about Chief Joe Silva’s family? I thought that was a fair question, and decided to write a book focusing on Joe and his large Portuguese family. I grew up in an area with a large Portuguese population, and thought this would be fun. I love the large Portuguese gatherings, the complicated families, and the food.
I had some of this in the back of my mind as I began to write, but mostly I focused on the murder—what would the crime be and who would be part of it? But as I got deeper into writing, the personalities of Joe’s siblings took over. Then the way families get together and share with each other began to dominate. Before I knew it, I had a crime set at a family reunion where every relative contributed a favorite dish. Joe’s father, a man now in his nineties, watches the platters come to the table, picking out the ones he wants. He especially notices paella with chicken and shrimp, spinach with raisins and pine nuts, stuffed onions, and cod and potato salad.
Last Call for Justice takes us deep into Joe’s family and background. The middle of seven children, Joe is sometimes called by his family “the one who got away.” He’s worried about the consequences from his father’s bringing together everyone, including the two youngest siblings who disappeared years ago after one was accused of a crime he didn’t commit. It is this lingering accusation that the elderly Pae Silva wants to put to rest. He hasn’t much time left on this earth, and he wants to see his children at peace.
Portuguese cuisine is known for its many fish dishes, and the cod and potato salad is a favorite with a lot of people. It’s simple and easy to make, and is a good accompaniment for a number of other dishes.
Cod and Potato Salad
(This recipe is easily adjusted)
1 lb small red potatoes
½ lb boneless cod
1 onion diced
2 celery stalks, cut lengthwise and diced
White wine vinegar
Salt & pepper
Place cod in saucepan, cover with water, and simmer till tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and cool. Shred into smallish pieces.
Cover potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Boil until tender but not so long that skins pull away. Drain and cool, and cut into one-half to one inch pieces.
Mix together cod, potatoes, celery, and onion. Dress with oil and vinegar. Season with nutmeg, and salt and pepper.
Serve with fish, or with a green salad.
Last Call for Justice
Chief Joe Silva plans a long weekend visit with his family, taking his partner, Gwen, and her daughter, Jennie, along. Joe's father, in his nineties and ailing, has insisted on bringing everyone together for one last family reunion. He even managed to persuade the two youngest, who went west and started new lives. The patriarch has plans to heal an old wound but the family ends up facing a new crime, and Joe works feverishly to catch the killer before even more damage is done.