In my debut novel, Dead Odds, the protagonist is a Tennessee-based FBI agent who takes time off to handle some family business in Florida. The agent has been out of college (and out of law school) for more than a decade and is single, but he is not the law enforcement version of Oscar Madison. (For those of another generation, Conrad Keane, my protagonist, is not a slob.)
Keane finds himself in Orlando investigating the murder of his estranged and much-younger brother, and he discovers his brother did not lead the life everyone believed he did.
One of the revealing scenes in Dead Odds is when Keane, needing to apologize to an Orlando homicide detective because he stuck his nose into her murder investigation. On the spur of the moment he shows up at Det. Tina Rossi’s house and cooks a spaghetti dinner for the two of them. He knows that Rossi’s family owns and runs an Italian restaurant in Leesburg, Florida, a small city near Orlando, which probably gives him a clue to the kind of food she’d be receptive to eating without notice.
Keane doesn’t necessarily fancy himself a gourmet chef, but he takes pride in the fact that he doesn’t rely on fast food or Uber Eats. He cooks, and he’s good at it.
Enjoy. I promise you, this is delicious.
Conrad Keane's Spaghetti Dinner
5-6 mild Italian sausages
6 12 oz. cans of tomato sauce
1 6 oz. can of tomato paste
1 medium or large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 T fennel seeds
2 T garlic powder
2 T dried basil
1/2 cup basil leaves, chiffonade
1 T dried oregano
1 T onion powder
3 T olive oil
Grated, shredded or shaved Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a pot and sweat onions for 4 minutes.
Remove casings from sausages. Pinch off small portions of sausage, drop into onions mixture and brown, breaking up the chunks into smaller bits as you go.
Remove excess grease with a ladle and add fresh garlic, stirring for 1 minute. Add tomato sauce, fennel, dried basil, garlic powder, oregano and onion powder. Stir, lower heat and let simmer for 15 minutes.
Add most of the basil leaves, reserving some for dressing. Add tomato paste to get desired thickness of the sauce. Salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer 15 minutes uncovered, remove from heat and cover.
Note: You can make this sauce one or two days ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator. I recommend making it at least one day in advance. That gives the ingredients time to marry and makes for a more developed sauce.
4 cloves finely chopped garlic
4 T melted butter
1 loaf French bread
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Slice bread into desired thickness. Keeping the bread pieces in order, brush insides of the bread with butter and add garlic pieces.
Place the bread pieces back together into loaf. Wrap in foil. Bake 20 minutes.
1 box of your favorite dried spaghetti
1/2 cup kosher salt
Bring large pot of water to a boil. Add the salt, stir, and add the pasta. Turn down the temperature after the water comes back to a boil and cook until the pasta is al dente.
Prepare your dinner in the manner of your choice: Plate the pasta and add sauce, or mix the pasta with the sauce and then plate.
Sprinkle fresh basil and Parmesan cheese on top.
A Conrad Keane Novel, Book 1
There's nothing FBI Agent Conrad Keane wouldn't do to catch his brother's killer. Will his pursuit of justice lead him beyond the law and ruin his life?
Keane's reunion with his estranged half-brother Sean is cut short by a seemingly random tragedy outside an Orlando bar. Detective Tina Rossi vows to track down the person responsible, but Keane is determined to find his own answers.
An outsider with no jurisdiction, Keane forms a tenuous alliance with Rossi to investigate Sean's life as a star college football player. But the deeper he digs, the more he uncovers that Sean led a secret life - one that got him killed.
The university president, his cadre of well-heeled friends, and a mysterious former donor keep Keane and Rossi guessing about a puzzle they can't piece together. When other men connected to the school turn up dead, Keane races to catch a killer whose sights have turned on him.