Mumbo Gumbo (Madeline Bean Series #5)by Jerrilyn Farmer
So speaks TV producer Artie Herman, as murder meetsHollywood when adorably hip caterer Madeline Bean joins the oddball staff of TV's hottest new culinary series. Bean, her event-planning
"People die every second of the day ... that's part of life. But how many times in the history of the world do we have a chance to create a game show as perfect as Food Freak?"
So speaks TV producer Artie Herman, as murder meetsHollywood when adorably hip caterer Madeline Bean joins the oddball staff of TV's hottest new culinary series. Bean, her event-planning business in a lull, gets a lucky break, filling in as a writer for a hot-hot-hot game show featuring a dishy celebrity chef and cookoff competitions with teams of amateurs. However, the show's on the brink of disaster, with the head writer missing and staffers quitting or disappearing weekly ... until a secret room, a priceless packet of Kool-Aid, and a bubbling Cajun gumbo from hell bring Maddie face-to-face with a murderer.
Read an Excerpt
A Madeline Bean Novel
Judgment was bearing down on the beautiful Baker sisters like a freight train. The jury looked on. Beneath deadly hot lights, the young women awaited the verdict. They were doomed. Everyone knew it. But we still loved to watch them squirm. Sydney and Marley, the two elder sisters, wore the lowest-cut designer gowns. They clung to each other for support. Emily, the youngest of the three beauties, admitted she might faint from fear.
"Can you turn the sound up a little?" asked Drew.
I shot him a look. All the chefs were staring at the screen of our kitchen Toshiba, drawn into the drama that marked the final round of Food Freak, America's hot-hot-hot new cooking quiz show. I reached for the remote control and adjusted the volume.
"The guys from Jersey killed 'em," said Philip Voron, wiping his apron. "Is it too late to raise my bet?"
"Yes," came the answer from five other kitchen assistants and chefs.
On-screen, the celebrity judges tasted the food that had been prepared over the previous half hour. Tony and Frank from Jersey vs. the Fabulous Baker Girls.
"I'll take your money," I said, giving Philip a level gaze.
"All right," he said slowly. "Another twenty."
No one knows quite how these pop culture phenoms begin, but at the moment, America's TV viewers were just crazy about Food Freak, the show that pitted amateur chefs against one another in a hilarious send-up of feuding gourmands. Thousands of hot little office betting pools were springing up everywhere. Internet betting was also huge. For some reason, the idea of caring so much about who was crowned the best amateur chef in the U.S. had tickled us. The show was a riot for those of us who cook for a living, television of the absurd. Sort of like the Pillsbury Bake-Off on steroids.
Judgment was at hand. We all turned to the screen. And despite the knife-wielding prowess displayed earlier by the dance instructors from Trenton, it was not to be Tony and Frank's night. I two-finger-whistled when the guest judges, pop divas Destiny's Child, admired the sisters' shimmering chiffon gowns in sherbet colors as well as their mouth-watering take on fat-free tiramisù. I cheered on Emily, Marley, and Sydney Baker and whooped as they pulled out from behind and won the show by only a scant point.
There was some teasing and settling of bets, and then we all got back to work. This is what it is like to be an event planner in the midst of orchestrating a major Hollywood party. I was working in my own professional kitchen, one I'd had added to my home in the Hollywood Hills, preparing a spectacular Mumbo Gumbo and several other exotic dishes for a party of eighty to celebrate the close of production on one of TV's most memorable new shows of the season, the one whose final episode we had just screened early since we'd be working when it aired later tonight.
We would produce this evening's wrap party for Food Freak, but after this one last party, our schedule was alarmingly unbooked. The great blank calendar that was March loomed ahead. The country was not in a lavish, celebrating, party mood.
"We're definitely going to pull through this little slump," Wes said, looking up as he chopped a mound of okra. Throughout the past month he'd said much the same thing, each time with the same up-beat tone. It never failed to make my stomach queasy at how hard he was trying to cheer me the heck up. Wesley Westcott is my best friend in the world and my business partner in our event-planning company, Mad Bean Events.
I gave him a great cheery smile back. Wes is a tall, perfectly groomed guy and you would hardly guess he was thirty-eight by the boyishness of his good looks, the great hairline, or the energy of his movements. He took note of my best smile and looked queasy.
I'm Mad Bean. Madeline Olivia Bean, actually. Twenty-nine. Single. Raised in a suburb of Chicago, trained at the Culinary Institute in San Francisco, and finally transplanted to L.A. Wes and I began our company a few years back, catering high-profile dinner parties in Hollywood, a town that rates a good party slightly higher than your average fish rates water. The top-end party crowd has come to discover that we are more than willing to be arty, outrageous, and temperament-free, a perfect combination, it turns out, to prosper here amid hothouse egos and insane party budgets.
But this town, like every town, has been changing. People are more worried than ever about the state of the world and what the future might bring. With fears about the economy, our best clients -- the movie studios and television productions -- seem less inclined to want to spend wildly. For the first time in, I think, ever, the Emmy Awards decided to tone themselves down, banning the jewels and ball gowns. And as for our business? No bookings. Our lack of income was something I was planning to be desperate about just as soon as this last party was taken care of.
But not right now. Now, we had to cook and put on a terrific event.
I looked around. My kitchen is quite cozy in a brushed-stainless-steel, white-tile, warm-wood-counters sort of way, but it is not pretty on the day of a party. It's a battle zone. It is rather like the beaches during the Normandy invasion, I imagine, only exchange the sand for linoleum, the sweaty soldiers for sweaty cooks. A dozen prep chefs were busy here and there, lifting great pots onto the fire, or shelling fresh Santa Barbara prawns.Mumbo Gumbo
A Madeline Bean Novel. Copyright © by Jerrilyn Farmer. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
Jerrilyn Farmer, the author of seven acclaimed, award-winning Madeline Bean novels, is a TV writer who has written for game shows such as Jeopardy! and Supermarket Sweep, and sketch comedy specials for Dana Carvey, Jon Lovitz, Timothy Stack, Cheri Oteri, Tim Meadows, and others. Farmer also teaches mystery writing at the UCLA Extension's Writers Program. She lives in Southern California.
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Madeline Bean is a Hollywood event planner and caterer to the stars. Her company is Mad Bean Events. They are scheduled to cater the big wrap party for the new TV hit food game show 'Food Freak.' As her staff is preparing the food for the party, Greta Greene the producer of Food Freak tells Maddie that the party is canceled for that night. The network wants Food Freak to produce one more episode. That's the bad news. What Greta doesn't know is that this is the last event on the schedule for Mad Bean Events. With the economy slump, people aren't having extravagent parties. Maddie isn't sure what she will do to try to raise money to pay her bills. Most of her staff has found other temporary positions for this slump. One good thing, Greta agrees to pay for the food that has been purchased and the wrap party will be rescheduled. Greta also asks Maddie to come be a writer for the last episode of Food Freak. Apparently the head writer, Tim Stock is missing. Maddie agrees. Maddie enjoys learning the ropes of writing for a food game show. She is intrigued by all the different personalities behind the scenes of this show. Especially Chef Howie and his wife Fate. She starts uncovering clues about the missing head writer. As the web of puzzles grows, Maddie works hard at solving them. Her assistant at Mad Bean Events, Holly, comes to help her. Plus Maddie's relationship with police detective Honnett becomes more confusing. I always enjoy reading a Madeline Bean novel. There are always a lot of escapades and food involved. Jerrilyn Farmer has a winner in this series. The characters are well written as is the plot and setting. She makes me feel like I am there in the story. There is a lot of intrigue and mystery but a lot of fun. This is a quick and easy read. I highly recommend this book and series.
Madeline Bean, LA caterer/party planner to the stars, & all her cohorts are back, & so is the humor in MUMBO GUMBO by Jerrilyn Farmer. Bean¿s catering business is down, (like everyone else¿s) & she needs to do something to earn money. Her partner Wesley Westcott is fixing up old homes & reselling them, so he is covered, but what can Bean & their full time assistant Holly do? Bean¿s prayers are answered when the wrap party they are catering for Food Freak, the gourmet, cook-off game show is cancelled. Her friend, producer of the show Greta Greene, informs her that this show will not be a wrap, there will be one more show; however she will still get paid for the catering. She would like Bean to be one of the writers for the next show since head writer Tim Stock can¿t be found. (Bean is known for her food tidbit knowledge & recipes.) They assume that since Stock thought the show was ended, he is just on vacation & unreachable. Find out how a TV game show is put on, along with the pecking order of the staff, their desires, jealousies, power, & secrets as Bean does her stint as a writer. She¿s not comfortable with the idea that Stock is just on vacation since no one can get a hold of him. There are questions she would like to have answered & since she is good at puzzles hopefully she will be able to figure them out: 1. Where is Stock? 2. Bean finds a hidden post-it note in Stock¿s desk that says Heidi & Monica may have to die, Who are they? 3 Why did Stock¿s office get trashed? (When his office is trashed, the big worry is that someone stole the new script & will show it to the contestants creating a new game show scandal. Since Greene didn¿t want anyone to know about the trashing, she hired Holly to help Bean clean up the mess.) 4. Is Chef Howie (who EVERYONE must call CHEF Howie) really screwing around like his wife believes he is? (Bean thinks his wife looks old enough to be his mother.) & 5 Who died in the fire at Stock¿s home? Not everything seems kosher on the show. Since this is a gourmet food show, Bean can¿t understand how recipes ingredients can get messed up. For those of you who are romantics, there is something for you. Holly comes across her ex-boyfriend Donald, & Bean & her cop friend Chuck Honnett meet at a crime scene weeks after he says he¿ll call. There are twists & turns, but to find a ¿real¿ killer, you need to get to the end-it¿s not over till the fat lady sings. Not only is MUMBO GUMBO a good read, it is Farmer¿s first book in the series that has come out in hardback.
Mad Bean Events is one of the industry¿s most well known event planners but with the economy in a downward spiral and the international scene so frightening, business is hurting. Co-owner Madeline Bean has only one more affair to cater before she faces an empty calendar. Greta Greene, the producer of the famous quiz show Food Freak, offers her a temporary job as a writer for the production because the head writer Tim Stock is missing. At first Madeline enjoys the research needed for the show but when her office is ransacked, the taping has to be delayed because the script and the answers were there. When Madeline starts fixing up the room, an unknown assailant conks her over the head and she comes to the conclusion that someone is looking for something. Maddie goes over to Tim¿s home to see if he is there but what she finds is a burning building and a body that might be Tim. She¿s determined to get answers to all the questions surrounding the people associated with Food Freak and Madeline always get her answers, even the unpleasant ones. Jerrilyn Farmer has developed a first rate series starring a strong heroine. The story line moves along at warp speed so that readers became quickly involved in the plot. The audience will be fascinated by the hard work it takes to get one segment of a game show into production. Madeline is a very credible amateur sleuth who solves crimes by persistently asking questions and usually getting the answers so she can put the pieces of the puzzle together leading in the case of MUMBO GUMBO to a scrumptious treat. Harriet Klausner
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