Jessica Thompson’s novels are an interesting mix of murder and cooking. A fellow darkstroke books author, she has released two: A Caterer’s Guide to Love and Murder and A Caterer’s Guide to Holidays and Homicide. And key to her culinary cozy mysteries is the character Violet Whitehouse. Here, I will let Jessica tell you about her in what I call my Character Traits series.
Who is your character?
Violet Whitehouse, newish bride, struggling caterer, and neat freak that hates being called a neat freak.
What does she look like?
Like a younger Jennifer Connelly. Think of her at about 25 years old or in the movie Inventing the Abbotts.
What is your character’s back story?
It hasn’t come up in a book yet, but she used to be that little kid that was always dirty. She didn’t avoid dirt because she didn’t care, until she got a staph infection at about ten years old. For the week or so that Violet was in the hospital, she learned to appreciate good food (and not the hospital food) and clean conditions. She has been learning to cook and avoiding dirt and chaos ever since.
What is your character’s role in your novel?
Violet is the main character. In this book she is acting as a personal chef for a group of ladies on a pre-holiday retreat, but usually she is a caterer for events big and small. She is also recruited to investigate the murder that happens because they are snowed in and the police won’t be able to get to them for days.
Why should readers care about this character?
I think I care about her because she cares about things so much. She wants things to be clean and she wants to make it a perfect retreat for her clients. She loves her husband and so wants to become a mom. She puts so much care into the food, into cleaning, and into this murder investigation.
Here’s an excerpt featuring.
“Watch the knives!” Jake winced and lunged forward, but he was too late.
Violet’s whole body was already tense from the cold weather and the long trip, but her muscles clenched into paralysis as she heard her bag of tools tip and clatter to the ground.
She shifted the box she had just taken out of the back of their rental van and swept aside her curtain of chestnut hair with her free hand. She forced her green eyes open, steeling herself to look down. The kitchen tools she had brought with her on this trip, the ones she couldn’t live without, lay scattered over the packed and soiled snow of the lodge’s parking area.
Violet’s skin crawled and her scalp tingled as she thought of the dirt, engine oil, and even traces of animal poop that were probably on her tools now.
As Jake, her husband and fellow caterer, took the box from her arms, Violet attempted a return to sanity with a deep breath and a look around at the glittering scenery. Other than the parking lot, clean, fresh snow covered the landscape and swept all the way up to the frozen pond and brightly lit windows of Summerhaven Lodge. The mounded snow shone coral in the waning evening light and eased her jangled nerves. She noticed tiny hopping footprints from a rabbit near the tree line and got close to smiling. The air was still and biting and she wrapped her favorite white scarf more tightly under her chin to keep it out. The scarf was a thick wool and didn’t get enough use back home in Austin, Texas.
This week would be a welcome break for all of them. Violet and Jake had been so tense the last few months that they had eagerly accepted the request to travel to another state and cook the entire week before Christmas for Carina Moretti, the mother of their friend Laurel. Laurel had spoken so highly of Violet’s cooking, and maybe a bit about her sleuthing, during her wedding last year that most of Violet’s clients these days wanted to hear the story while they tasted her creations.
Jessica Thompson’s bio
When Jessica discovered mystery novels with recipes, she knew she had found her niche.
Now Jessica is the author of the Amazon best-selling culinary cozy mysteries “A Caterer’s Guide to Love and Murder” and “A Caterer’s Guide to Holidays and Homicide.” She is active in her local writing community and is a member of the Writers’ League of Texas and the Storymakers Guild. She received a bachelor’s degree in Horticulture from Brigham Young University but has always enjoyed writing and reading mysteries.
As an avid home chef and food science geek, Jessica has won cooking competitions and been featured in the online Taste of Home recipe collection. She also tends to be the go-to source for recipes, taste-testing, and food advice among her peers.
Jessica is originally from California, but now has adopted the Austin, Texas lifestyle. She enjoys living in the suburbs with her husband and young children, but also enjoys helping her parents with their nearby longhorn cattle ranch.
A Caterer’s Guide to Holidays and Homicide synopsis
While acting as personal chef for a friend’s mountain retreat, Violet and her husband, Jake, must set aside their stress over infertility and create a magical and delicious holiday – until tragedy crashes the party.
Being snowed in and unreachable from town, Violet and Jake end up hired for a different kind of job – finding out which of the guests committed murder and why they’re trying to frame their hostess.
Violet must find a balance between following her gut and keeping it all under control until the police can reach them, while still managing the kitchen. But can she sniff out the killer before anyone else bites the big one?
A Caterer’s Guide to Holidays and Homicide will give you a culinary holiday you won’t forget!
Violet was furious with herself for not seeing it before. Her gut had led her in all the wrong directions. Mercedes had been the one to rebelliously go outside, and apparently it had not been an isolated incident.
It made Violet fume. How many times has Mercedes come outside? she thought. She was angry with Mercedes, but mostly she was kicking herself. Why had she thought that trusting her instincts would be a good idea? Her gut had definitely not done her any favors last time she had investigated a murder. She was mad at herself for not seeing it all, mad for ignoring Mercedes’ trips outside, and mad for looking past the woman just because she had made hot chocolate and been kind to her. All of that must have been an act. She must have been doing it to manipulate people. Perhaps the real Mercedes was the one that had erupted out during her argument with Carina.
The rage and the glowing fury that had shown in Mercedes’ face during that argument should have been a dead giveaway.
Violet followed the smell of cigarette smoke that lingered in the chilled air and mingled with the clouds of her breath. Cigarettes usually made Violet’s skin crawl, but she was too indignant to care now.
Violet caught a glimpse of a cloud of breath coming from behind the tool shed that formed one wall of the carport and crunched over the refrozen snow of the parking lot.
“Yes, sir. I’ll put you on speakerphone so you can hear, but it’s usually best to let Violet talk. She really has a way of getting these ladies to talk.”
Violet didn’t hear any of it. The blood was rushing through her ears as she whipped around the corner of the shed to find Mercedes huddled behind it.
Mercedes had been bent over, but now rose with terror in her eyes as Violet felt her face contort with disgust.
“It was you!”