Thursday, March 22, 2018

Interview, Excerpt & Giveaway ~ CINCO DE MURDER by Rebecca Adler

Cinco de Murder (A Taste of Texas, #3)
by: Rebecca Adler
Series: A Taste of Texas
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Release Date: April 3, 2018
Publisher: Berkley Books
Amazon | Paperback | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play | Goodreads

Tex-Mex waitress and part-time reporter Josie Callahan serves up more Lone Star justice in this spicy mystery from the author of The Good, the Bad, and the Guacamole.

It's fiesta time in Broken Boot, Texas, and tourists are pouring into town faster than free beer at a bull roping for the mouthwatering Cinco de Mayo festivities. Tex-Mex waitress Josie Callahan, her feisty abuela, and even her spunky Chihuahua Lenny are polishing their folklorico dances for Saturday's big parade, while Uncle Eddie is adding his own spicy event to the fiesta menu: Broken Boot's First Annual Charity Chili Cook-off.

But Uncle Eddie's hopes of impressing the town council go up in smoke when cantankerous chili cook Lucky Straw is found dead in his tent. And when Josie's beloved uncle is accused of fatal negligence, she, Lenny, and the steadfast Detective Lightfoot must uncover who ended the ambitious chilihead's life--before another cook kicks the bucket.

Chapter 1

Folklórico Rehearsal

On such a gorgeous May morning, what could be better than a power walk to Cho’s cleaners with my long-haired Chihuahua, Lenny? The morning sun had tossed a wide blanket of gold over the Davis and Chisos mountains, awakening the piñon pines and the weeping junipers from their slumber, illuminating the bluegrass and scrub so they looked like desert jewels. The plan had been to retrieve my abuela’s folklórico costume and burn some extra calories. And though we made good time—considering the length of my canine sidekick’s pencil-thin appendages—the morning sun galloped down Broken Boot’s cobbled streets while I paid Mr. Cho with a crumpled five-dollar bill and a coupon for a dozen free tamales.

“Yip.” Lenny lapped from the pet fountain in front of Elaine’s Pies, soaking his black-and-white coat.

“¡Vámonos, amigo!” If we were late to the final dance rehearsal before the Cinco de Mayo parade, God only knew when Senora Marisol Martinez, our matriarch, would permit me to call her abuela again.

During my first few months back home, I was elated to find I could accomplish tasks in far less time than in the crowded thoroughfares of Austin. Almost a year later, I was forced to admit the slower pace of our dusty little town didn’t aid me in my quest to check things off my list. It merely encouraged me to meander.

On that happy thought, Lenny and I raced down the sidewalk toward Milagro. Suddenly I tripped over the plastic clothes bag, nearly kissing the pavement with my face. “Whose great idea was it to rehearse this early?”


“That’s what I was afraid of.”

When we barreled through the front door of Milagro, the best, and only, Tex-Mex restaurant on Main Street, I expected the folklórico rehearsal to be in full swing. Instead my best friend, Patti Perez, glared at me, which only made me smile. I was wise to her marshmallow center, in spite of her ghostly Goth appearance.

“Sorry,” I mouthed. After all, it had been my idea for all of us to join the local folklórico troupe—my way of embracing life back in good old Broken Boot, Texas.

“About time,” she chided as I draped Senora Mari’s costume over a stack of hand-painted wooden chairs. In my absence, the other dancers had cleared the dining room to create a dance floor on the beautiful Saltillo tiles.

“I would have called,” I began.

“But I was trapped in a dead zone,” we said in unison. Service was so bad in Broken Boot and its outlying communities that folks were slower here than in the rest of the country in ditching their landlines.

“Where’s Anthony?” When our headwaiter offered his newly formed mariachi band to play for our first performance, I didn’t have the heart to say no. Beggars can’t be choosers, or look a gift band in the mouth.

“Tsk, tsk.” Across the room, Anthony’s new fiancée placed her hand over the bar phone’s mouthpiece. Though christened Lucinda, we’d quickly dubbed her Cindy to avoid calling her Linda, my aunt’s name, and vice versa. “He says his truck has a flat tire.” She scowled at whatever Anthony said next and responded with a flurry of Spanish.

“Who doesn’t keep a spare in the desert?” Patti, whom I referred to as Goth Girl if for no other reason than to hear her snort, delivered this line with a deadpan expression and a flick of her rehearsal skirt.

“Yip,” Lenny said, chasing after her ruffles.

Goth Girl snapped her head in my direction and gave me the stink eye. “Tell me you replaced your spare.”

“Uh, well, not yet, but I will after Cinco de Mayo.” Money was a bit tight, what with the loss of tourists during the winter months.

To my right, Aunt Linda, a stunning middle-aged woman with warm chestnut hair, modeled her bright-colored skirt better than any fashionista in Paris. “That’s what you said about Valentine’s Day.” She was my late mother’s older sister. She might look great in her Wranglers, but she and rhythm had never been introduced.

“And Saint Patrick’s,” chimed in Senora Mari, executing a double spin. This morning she wore a rehearsal skirt of black-tiered lace along with her Milagro uniform of peasant blouse, gray bun at her nape, and large pink flower behind her ear. No matter how much I rehearsed, none of my moves could compare to her sassy head turns and flamboyant poses. Who knew my seventy-something, four-foot-eleven abuela would turn out to be the star of our ragtag troupe?

A sharp clapping interrupted our chatter. “Let’s try it on the counts,” cried Mrs. Felicia Cogburn, mayor’s wife and self-appointed dance captain.

“Yip,” Lenny agreed.

“Why is that dog here?” Mrs. Cogburn demanded, her hands raised in mid-clap.

“He has a key role, remember?” My abuela smiled, an expression so rare on her dear weathered face it made folks uncomfortable.

Mrs. Cogburn blinked several times. “Of course.” Before she could begin, a small truck landed at the curb with a bed full of musicians, trumpets and guitars in full serenade. The band stopped playing long enough to hurry inside.

“¡Ay, Dios! Senora, I had to borrow a spare. Mine was flat.” Anthony waved his friends into a semicircle just inside the door.

Senora Mari thrust a finger into the air. “So you say.” She snapped her head dramatically to the side. “Play.”

With a worried look, Anthony counted off, and the group of dark-haired men and boys began to play the "Jarabe Tapatío", the Mexican hat dance. I spied a familiar face on trumpet. Anthony’s little sister Lily gave me a wink and a nod.

As the trumpets and guitars played, Mrs. Cogburn called out, “And one, two, three, four.”

“Where’s your skirt?” Patti asked as we twirled first right and then left.

“Ah, chicken sticks.” I dodged the dancers, ran up the stairs to my loft apartment, and retrieved my long skirt from a chrome dining chair.

“Yip, yip, yip,” Lenny cried from the bottom of the stairs.

“Sorry.” I found his straw hat on the yellow Formica table and made it downstairs without mishap. “Here you go, handsome.” I perched the hat on his head and tightened the elastic under his chin. As we danced, Lenny would spin in place on his back legs, melting the hearts of the crowd faster than fried ice cream in August.

Hi Rebecca. Welcome to Read Your Writes Book Reviews. How are you?
Howdy! I’m doing very well. Spring has definitely sprung here in Texas—and it’s a beauty.

I don’t know about you, but everything around me is covered in pollen. However, all the colorful flowers are definitely nice. Your A Taste of Texas Mystery series has been on my reading wishlist for a couple of years now. What can you tell readers about the series and are the books standalone reads?
Wow. That’s wonderful that my books are on your radar! This series celebrates the idiosyncrasies of the Callahan/Martinez clan and the community-minded citizens of Broken Boot, Texas. Set in Big Sky country near Big Bend National Park and the Chihuahua Desert, Broken Boot is a uniquely homey place filled with delicious Tex-Mex, savory BBQ, and mouthwatering margaritas. Reporter turned waitress Josie Callahan solves the occasional murder with the help of her long-haired Chihuahua Lenny while serving up delicious tamales at Milagro, her family’s Tex-Mex restaurant, and trying to impress her editor at The Bugle.

Even though, Josie, her Chihuahua Lenny, Senora Mari, Uncle Eddie, Aunt Linda, and Deputy Quint Lightfoot make an appearance in every book, they are definitely standalone stories. My editor and I worked hard to make sure a new reader would be able to enjoy both Book 2: The Good, the Bad, and the Guacamole or Book 3: Cinco de Murder without having read Book 1: Here Today, Gone Tamale. Once you start with Cinco de Murder, I hope you’ll go back to Book 1 and read how Josie got her start as an amateur sleuth. It’s well worth your time.

What can you tell me about the series main characters?
Tex-Mex waitress Josie Callahan is a young woman set on regaining her equilibrium after some heavy disappointments. Not only was she jilted by her fiancé, but she lost her job as a journalist at the Austin Gazette when the paper downsized. She’s returned home to Broken Boot to work once again in the family restaurant and heal her broken heart. At first glance Josie may seem like a bit of a ditzy brunette; but she’s more than capable of following the trail of any small-town criminals. Even though she dreaded coming home with her tail between her legs, she’s begun to enjoy her close-knit family—even the matriarchal Senora Mari—and the simple ways of her childhood home.

Detective Quint Lightfoot has learned to endure Josie Callahan’s curiosity and down-right nosiness especially after she helped catch not one, but two, local murderers. Not one to easily share his emotions, or thoughts, for the world to see, he’s come to realize Josie’s curiosity and his own by-the-book seriousness go hand in hand. Like salt and watermelon.

In every town there’s a rivalry, and Broken Boot’s no exception. As much as Josie wants to let bygones be bygones, beauty queen Hilary Sloan-Rawlings won’t let her forget the past. Hilary’s favorite pastime is playing to her adoring fans and fanning the flames of her relationship with the charming Coach Ryan Prescott, Josie’s college sweetheart.

If there’s one member of Josie’s family who knows everything about everything, it’s Senora Marisol Martinez. When she’s not instructing Milagro’s staff on the perfect way to prepare her mouthwatering tamales, she’s advising her erstwhile granddaughter on everything from men to mariachi. And don’t get Senora Mari started on her dreams. Haven’t you heard? They’re full of strange symbols that may or may not be clues.

Last but not least, there’s Josie’s sidekick, the irreplaceable Lenny, the long-haired Chihuahua. Not only does this feisty canine enjoy long walks around town and gazing into the fire; but his mariachi costume and signature dance moves promise to be the highlight of the Cinco de Mayo parade.

Oh my gosh. Lenny has dance moves? How did you go about creating your characters? Did you have any inspirations?
Sometimes I create my characters before I begin writing; and other times they walk onto the page when I need them the most. The idea of a family running a Tex-Mex restaurant in a small Texas town came from my editor; but I fleshed out the details. It was fun discovering how they spoke, what they looked like, and how they felt about each other and the world around them. I’d say that’s my favorite part of writing this series—meeting the characters who arrive on the page, sometimes by design and other times by pure accident.

Lenny, Josie’s Chihuahua, was mine from the get go. On page one of Here Today, Gone Tamale when Josie stared at herself in the mirror and Lenny yipped his approval, a star was born.

I am a huge fan of Tony Hillerman’s Native American lawmen Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn, not to mention Native American actors Adam Beach and Michael Horse. When it came time to create a local deputy, I couldn’t resist introducing the handsome Detective Quint Lightfoot.

Let talk recipes. I LOVE Tex-Mex. How did you come up with the recipes?
Well, I absolutely adore Tex-Mex as well. Obviously. LOL. So…I did a lot of sampling. I also borrowed recipes from a dear friend who is a marvelous Mexican cook. We found authentic recipes and tinkered around with them. The challenge was to make them delicious, easy to make, and that delicate balance of not too Tex and not too Mex.

What would Josie say about you as her author? (Would she scream about the situations you put her into? Would she demand that you give her better leads to work with? Would she say you put her safety at risk way too much?)
I think Josie would be proud that I’ve gifted her with a healthy dose of curiosity and a huge portion of get-her-done. On the other hand, I think she’d like to skin my hide because of how often she comes out sounding a bit ditzy…at least until she proves her intuition can be trusted. All in all, I think she and I would share a belly laugh at the crazy situations I put her in and her uncanny ability to save the day.

Finish this sentence...A funny happened while I was writing Cinco de Murder ---
I had to dig deep into my romance author roots and write the cutest kiss ever! And that’s all I can say about that…you’ll have to read it for yourself to find out if you agree.

Okay. So I might have just jumped up and down a little bit. I LOVE when a cozy mystery has romance in it. Rebecca thank you so much for answering some questions for me. I’m looking forward to reading the series.
Thank you so much for having me. I hope you and your readers enjoy it!

Purchase Cinco de Murder from:

A Taste of Texas Series:

Rebecca Adler grew up on the sugar beaches of the Florida Gulf Coast. Drawn to the Big Apple by the sweet smell of wishful thinking, she studied acting on Broadway until a dark-eyed cowboy flung her over his saddle and hightailed it to the Southwest.

Prior to writing women’s fiction, Gina always found a way to add a touch of the dramatic to her life: dinner theatre in Mississippi, can-can club in Florida, and playing a giant Furskin in the New York Toy Fair, plus the occasional play and musical.

She’s currently content to pour her melodramatic tendencies into writing her Taste of Texas culinary mystery series. Set in far West Texas, her humorous stories are filled with delicious suspense and scrumptious Tex-Mex recipes. Her alter ego, Gina Lee Nelson, writes sweet contemporary romances with a sweet, Southern-fried flavor.

Places to find Rebecca Adler:

You can follow the Cinco de Murder Blog Tour here.

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  1. Howdy! Thanks so much for featuring my new release. Rebecca Adler

    1. You're welcome. Thank you so much for the interview and for stopping by.

  2. I live in Texas so I love reading books set in Texas. This is one of my favorite Texas series. I love Josie and the rest of the gang, but Lenny is truly the star. I can’t wait to read Cinco de Murder!!

    1. Thanks for the recommendation Chris. I hope you enjoy Cinco de Murder. Thanks for stopping by.

    2. Hi Chris! Thanks for those kind words. Hope you enjoy this one too!

  3. Thank you for being part of this tour.

  4. I am looking forward to this! Fun Q&A. It is set in a beautiful part of Texas.

    1. Hi Julia.

      I hope things are well with you! I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. Thanks for stopping by.


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