Today Helene Greenberg is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about An Eggnog to Die For, the latest novel in the Cape Cod Foodie mystery series.
Welcome, Helene. Let’s get started, shall we?
Tell us about the novel that you live inside. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.
Greetings. My name is Helene Greenberg. I live inside the Cape Cod Foodie series, which features Samantha Barnes (known to her friends as Sam) a disgraced but resilient ex-chef who retreats home to Cape Cod, where she finds herself juggling a new job as the local paper’s “Cape Cod Foodie,” a complicated love life, a posse of just-slightly-odd friends (which apparently includes me), a falling-down house, a ginormous puppy and a propensity for falling over dead bodies.
The truth is I’m still amazed at the (sometimes hilarious, I admit) murder and mayhem in the first book of the series, A SIDE OF MURDER. Nor do I see much relief in sight in the book I’m living in now, AN EGGNOG TO DIE FOR. But I digress…
Back to me, Helene. For 25 years, I was a legal psychologist with the Manhattan DA’s office, where I evaluated countless people facing criminal charges. When I retired three years ago, I moved to the town of Fair Harbor on the Cape, where I’m now a librarian, a job I much prefer. Sam says I am like no other librarian you ever met. Perhaps. Who am I to say? I am 60-ish with a mane of curly silver hair that I don’t even try to tame, a penchant for t-shirts that say things like “Don’t judge my journey,” and very little tolerance for fools.
But more to the point, I am Sam Barnes’ next door neighbor and confidant.
When Sam she found she’d inherited her Aunt Ida’s house on the Cape, she retreated home to Fair Harbor, got a job writing restaurant reviews and, on her first assignment (in A SIDE OF MURDER), promptly found a dead body. (Sigh.) And now she’s doing it again in AN EGGNOG TO DIE FOR. Only this time, she stumbles over a very dead Santa in a very hip restaurant. (Sigh again.) No matter how many times I advise Sam to be very, very careful, she invariably is not. But I keep trying…
Does the writer control what happens in the story or do you get a say too?
Honestly, I find our writer a little controlling. Granted, she has to deal with Sam, who never fails to surprise us with her not-being-very-very-careful thing. But I am a reasonable person. You’d think I’d have some input.
About the only thing our writer will let me do is 1) train Sam’s dog, Diogi (pronounced Dee-OH-gee, as in D O G, get it?), which I am quite good at, although I have been accused of using untraditional commands (I ask you, what is wrong with “Diogi, shut up!”?). And 2) she agrees to let me caution Sam about behaving sensibly in her detection. Also, 3, the writer turns to me to explain why bad guys do what they do. (Twenty-five years with the DA’s office left me with a deep, if cynical, understanding of human nature.) And, of course, 4) she’s all for me trying to guide Sam in her sometimes rocky relationship with the town harbormaster, Jason Captiva.
So actually, now that I come to think about it, apparently I do get a say.
How did you evolve as a character?
I am 60-something years old, for goodness sake. I stopped evolving a long time ago.
Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them?
I’m immensely fond of Diogi. He’s is your typical Cape Cod mutt, part yellow Lab, part whatever (given his size, perhaps Great Dane). He is loyal and well-meaning, but he is not particularly intellectual. The only commands he responds to are “shut up” (on occasion), “sit” (on occasion), “stay” (almost never), and “go find Helene” (always). And, oh yes, “sic ’em.” Don’t ask.
On the other hand, his emotional intelligence is impressive. If you are feeling blue, Diogi is exactly what you need. First, he will lay his big head in your lap until you smile just a little bit, and then he will take you out for a nice long walk to cheer you up. It never fails.
What’s the place like where you find yourself in this story?
The series takes place in Fair Haven, a small town on Cape Cod nestled around the shores of Crystal Bay. In the summer, it is gloriously beautiful, but during the holidays, it’s downright charming.
Here’s how Sam describes it in AN EGGNOG TO DIE FOR: “There was something magical about a small New England town like Fair Harbor over the holidays. Pine garlands looped along white wooden fences, candles shining in the windows of four-square captain’s houses, wreaths with big red bows on the front doors of modest Capes, little wreaths with smaller bows on the dormer windows—it never changed, and it never failed to lift my heart.”
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about you and the book?
Yes. I’d like to thank all the readers who have written to say how much they enjoy my part in the Cape Cod Foodie mysteries. In the words of one reader, “Helene is a wise friend and always knows when you need a glass of wine and a hot bath!” If that isn’t the definition of friendship, I don’t know what is.
Thank you for answering my questions, Helene, and good luck to you and your author, Amy Pershing, with An Eggnog to Die For, the latest book in the Cape Cod Foodie mystery series.
The novel is available at the following online retailers:
About Amy Pershing: Amy Pershing, who spent every summer of her childhood on Cape Cod, was an editor, a restaurant reviewer and a journalist before leading employee communications at a global bank. A few years ago she waved goodbye to Wall Street to write full time. An Eggnog to Die For is the second of the Cape Cod Foodie mysteries featuring Samantha Barnes, a disgraced but resilient ex-chef who retreats home to Cape Cod where she finds herself juggling a new job as the local paper’s “Cape Cod Foodie,” a complicated love life, a posse of just-slightly-odd friends, a falling-down house, a ginormous puppy and a propensity for falling over dead bodies. Kirkus Reviews gave An Eggnog to Die For a starred review, saying, “A delightful sleuth, a complex mystery, and lovingly described cuisine: a winner for both foodies and mystery mavens.” A Side of Murder, the first of the Cape Cod Foodie mysteries, which Elizabeth Gilbert called “the freshest, funniest mystery I have ever read,” was the first book in the series. The third, Murder Is No Picnic, will be published in May 2022.