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Wednesday, July 15, 2020


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.

Bumblebee Stew

olive oil
chili powder
onion powder
garlic powder
can black beans, undrained
can corn, undrained
can chopped tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
semi-sweet chocolate

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.

Bar Sinister
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.

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Marian Allen said...

Thanks for having Juss and Doris on your blog, Anastasia! I'll be checking in periodically over the next couple of days, in case anybody has any questions or comments.


A pleasure to have them visit with us, Marian!

Susan Oleksiw said...

You had me smiling all the way through the post. Good luck with your new series, and thanks for the recipe. I too use cans.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

The premise of your series sounds intriguing as does your recipe. Best wishes!

Marian Allen said...

Susan, I'm glad I gave you a smile and a recipe. Sometimes I like to do things the long, more difficult way, but Mr. Can is my friend more often than not. :) Thanks for the good wishes.

Jacqueline, thank you for the good wishes. Writers sure need all the good wishes we can get, right?

Sara Marian said...

I love Bar Sinister! I wish I could go to Juss & Doris's house for some stew, wine, and chocolate! :)

Cerebrations.biz said...

Chocolate? Hmm. (Of course, there are no 'dimensions'....)

Marian Allen said...

Oh, yes, indeed! Juss and Doris take their "medicine" every day: dark chocolate and red wine. LOL Thanks for the kind words, Sara. I know Juss and Doris would love you. Watch out for Juss, though -- she tends to meddle, you know. :D

Eli Cobb said...

I have heard the author fo readings from this story. Very interesting, as is that recipe! Thanks, Marian❤️

Eli Cobb said...

Sorry about the typo! 🙃

Marian Allen said...

It happens to the best of us! I made a typo in the title of the post -- It's Doris, not Cloris! I guess this means Doris has to turn out to have a twin. lol