out of the frying pan

Poppy Markham is a health inspector, a vegan foodie, and an amateur sleuth — apparently just out of sheer nosiness, which is refreshing.

It’s no surprise that she’s at the Feast in the Fields, a special event at Good Earth Preserves, an organic farm that sells its bounty to subscribers. Her foodie connections and vegan tastes make it a natural setting for her.

It’s no surprise that when, after an evening of complicated family, friendship, and business relationships, chef Dana White passes out in the kitchen, Poppy steps in to perform artificial resuscitation. Poppy seems to be a take-charge kind of woman, and is never shy about hauling out her inspector’s badge in social situations. When Dana dies on the way to the hospital, Poppy steps in and figures out that her death was foul play — and that was a surprise.

Poppy is determined to solve the crime. She’s also in the midst of figuring out which of two men she should settle down with — the solid guy who makes her feel safe or the handsome devil who makes her feel excited. Add her crazy job (and the crazy boss), a film crew at her parent’ restaurant, and the shenanigans at her Home Owners Association, and Poppy has too much on her plate.

Poppy is down to earth and very funny, even in macabre situations. The rest of the characters bring their own complex emotional lives into the mix, keeping the story moving. The dialogue is brisk and believable, and the inside knowledge of culinary details is convincing.

The book is forthcoming and can be pre-ordered at Amazon, where you can also find earlier books in the series.