A highly educated foodie’s dream, this tale delivers a unique take on both the campus and mystery genres.



Newton (Tasting Home, 2013) makes her fiction debut with a cooking-focused whodunit set at a California college in the late 1990s.

Emily Addams, the story’s narrator, is the head of the women’s studies program at Arbor State, a former land-grant school that, as the millennium approaches, faces budgetary issues. As per usual, programs like Emily’s are the first on the chopping block, as the higher-ups plan to absorb women’s and ethnic studies into larger departments like humanities or social sciences. While Emily schemes with her colleagues on how to fight this reorganization, a scandal rocks the campus. Peter Elliot, a professor of plant biology, is found poisoned in the college’s hog yard and taken to the hospital. Peter has his enemies on campus: he is an outspoken proponent of pesticides and genetically modified foods. But Emily becomes a prime suspect because Peter was found with a piece of cornbread in his hand—it contained ingredients from a recipe that she is well-known for. And she had just brought her cornbread to a college event. Emily is cleared of the crime, but the fact that she was implicated arouses her suspicions, so she begins to investigate the incident, relying on her network of female faculty members to dig into Peter’s many secrets. On top of saving her program and solving a mystery, Emily has to juggle her teaching responsibilities; time with her daughter, Polly; and a romance with a new beau, a math professor. The novel, while dealing with heavy subjects, maintains a light and airy tone. The prose is more focused on driving the plot than lingering on descriptions, except when Emily and her colleagues speak, often very informatively, about their fields. To add to the fun, Newton puts a recipe at the end of every chapter for a dish that was mentioned in that part, giving the text a nice interactivity. Emily is a well-rounded, inquisitive character whom the reader gets to know well; the rest of the players are somewhat flatter, often acting as props for the propulsion of the plot. That plot, however, is intriguing and full of twists, and it’s hard to find fault with the author’s theme of communal empowerment, her love of food, and her frequent instructional asides.

A highly educated foodie’s dream, this tale delivers a unique take on both the campus and mystery genres.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63152-212-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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