Marian Allen writes science fiction, fantasy, mystery, humor, horror, mainstream, and anything else she can wrestle into fixed form. She blogs daily at Marian Allen, Author Lady ():Learn more about Marian and her books at her blog where she has daily topics: Monday with nail art, Tuesday on food, One-Liner Wednesday, Thursday Doors, Fridays For Future, and Sunday Snapshot. Her cats take turns blogging for her on Caturday … er … Saturday.
Bar Sinister is the first of a projected series called the Spadena Street Mysteries. Spadena Street is a two-block Storybook Style neighborhood with a past as corporate housing for privileged employees of a now-defunct factory. Some of its mysteries are connected to that past, some are connected to the characters of the people who lived there or live there now. Some are connected only by the networks of the current residents. Some just are.
Juss has a hobby: She collects people. Or, as her foster mother and lapsed hippie, Doris, puts it, “She’s a people junkie.” It’s Juss’s nostalgia for community involvement that leads her to her profession, and it’s the same nostalgia that fuels her impulse to stick her nose into other people’s business. At the same time, the bitter memory of “tourists” from outside the commune coming around to rubberneck and judge makes her resistant to her neighbors’ attempts at friendliness. It takes a neighbor coming to her for help (sub-plot!) to open Juss to the perfectly collectible people right on her own block.
That neighbor, Chickapoo Tomaneck, brings Juss and Doris a chocolate lava cake, although that’s not the recipe I’m sharing today. Doris is a firm believer in the medicinal value of dark chocolate and wine, but she preferred me to share something more nutritious. She also wanted me to tell you that Bumblebee Stew is great with shrimp in it. Or chicken. Or pork belly.
This recipe wasn’t in the book, but Juss and Doris love to garden and cook. They would have made this from scratch, not out of nasty old cans. Nasty old cans is what I use.
can black beans, undrained
can corn, undrained
can chopped tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
Heat the oil and toast the spices. Stir in the flour, adding more oil, if necessary. Add the vegetables, cilantro, and chocolate and heat until thickened.
Serve over rice.
A Spadena Street Mystery, Book 1
Juss -- Injustice H. Chocolate (named and raised by hippies) -- questions the usefulness of her Life Coach work and hires a secretary to prove its importance. Prim and efficient Kerry Dashingly can hardly wait to tell his wife that his latest secretary temp job is in a miniature castle in a neighborhood of Disneyesque architecture. Kerry hasn't even begun when he gets a call from his hapless cousin, Abby: A man she openly hated is dead, and the police found unspecified evidence in the back of her car. Juss immediate attaches herself to the problem, determined to help, even if it kills her.