Edith Maxwell writes the Lauren Rousseau mysteries under the pseudonym Tace Baker; the Local Foods Mysteries, and the Country Store Mysteries, written as Maddie Day; and the historical Carriagetown Mysteries, as well as award-winning short stories. Learn more about her and her books at her website and blog.
A New Quaker Mystery
Thanks so much for having me back on this fabulous blog. And who can go wrong with a regular Cooking column?
Wearing my Tace Baker hat, I write a traditional mystery series featuring Lauren Rousseau, a contemporary Quaker linguistics professor who lives in a small town on the coast north of Boston. She teaches at a fictional New England college, but in the second book in the series, Bluffing is Murder, she’s on summer vacation. Any thoughts of a relaxing stress-free time blow away on an ocean breeze when she finds her insurance agent, also one of the secretive Trustees of the Bluffs, dead on a bluff overlooking Holt Beach.
I’ve been a member of the Society of Friends for a long time, and I love the way being a Quaker informs Lauren’s behavior. She takes moments of silence to hold situations and people, including herself, in the Light, but doesn’t always find the answers she seeks, even in silent Sunday worship.
Lauren is a runner, but she’s not a cook, so these aren’t foodie mysteries and don’t include recipes. Her boyfriend Zac is a great home chef, but he’s off to visit family in Haiti for the summer, so she’s been eating at the pub and at a local restaurant and getting takeout more than usual. Lauren’s BFF Irene, though, runs a bakery in town and is always serving up delectable pastries.
I’m happy to share these melt-in-your mouth shortbread cookies, a recipe passed down from my grandmother.
1 cup butter, softened
2 cup unbleached flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup pecans or walnuts, finely chopped (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Mix all dry ingredients. Cut butter into dry ingredients until fine. Add vanilla and milk and stir with a fork until mixed. Form dough into a flat ball with your hands and chill for twenty minutes to a day.
Press or roll onto a rimmed cookie sheet. Bake for about fifteen minutes, watching closely for browning. While warm, sift powdered sugar over the top and cut into inch squares.
Bluffing is Murder
Summer promises to be anything but easy for Quaker linguistics professor Lauren Rousseau in Bluffing is Murder. Still reeling from an attack by her student’s murderer, Lauren decides to brush up on her karate and finds herself drawn to handsome sensei Dan Talbot. During a run near the sea bluffs, she discovers the corpse of her insurance agent, Charles Heard, who is also a Trustee for one of the oldest land trusts in the country. Earlier that day, Lauren had a public argument with Heard over her policy―and is now a suspect in the case.
Determined to clear her name, Lauren sets out to discover the real story behind the mismanaged land trust, the dead man’s volatile sister―and a possible link to her own father’s mysterious death more than a decade ago. But a near miss with a car, snippets of strange conversations in French and Farsi, slashed tires, and finding yet another attack victim on the beach make it clear that Lauren is also a target―and the killer is closing in. Can Lauren discover the killer before she becomes the next victim?