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Stick a Fork in It (Poppy Markham: Culinary Cop Series #2)

Stick a Fork in It (Poppy Markham: Culinary Cop Series #2)

4.5 2
by Robin Allen

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When the owner of a new restaurant is found hanging from a rope, it’s up to Poppy Markham to discover who sizzled his steak.

As a health inspector and former chef, Poppy Markham thought she’d seen it all—until she steps into Capital Punishment. The restaurant’s twisted concept—last meals of death row


When the owner of a new restaurant is found hanging from a rope, it’s up to Poppy Markham to discover who sizzled his steak.

As a health inspector and former chef, Poppy Markham thought she’d seen it all—until she steps into Capital Punishment. The restaurant’s twisted concept—last meals of death row inmates—could be a hit only in outlandish Austin, Texas. But the macabre theme becomes all too real when co-owner Troy Sharpe is found dangling from a hangman’s noose in the cinder block dining room. Discovering that Troy was a hard-drinking jerk leads Poppy to the rub: if Troy had more enemies than a jail has bars, which one sent him to the land of rigor-mortised restaurateurs?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Allen’s fun sequel to 2011’s If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Austin, Tex., health inspector Poppy Markham targets a new restaurant still under wraps, Capital Punishment, which features prison décor (electric chair, anyone?) and a menu of executed criminals’ last meals. The restaurant can’t open without her okay, and problem after problem keeps her returning to recheck progress—which stalls when Troy Sharpe, ex-jock and co-owner, is found hanged from the catwalk. The other owners—Troy’s twin brother, Todd, and the Sharpes’ schoolmate, Danny MacAdams—are determined to open on time, but construction chief Miles Archer struggles to get everything working at once. Determined to find out if Troy’s death is suicide or murder, Poppy must also contend with the mystery of the snack truck she can’t catch up with to inspect as well as her complicated love life. Lots of plot twists help make this a must-read for cozy lovers. Agent: Kimberley Cameron, Kimberley Cameron & Associates. (July)
Kirkus Reviews
A health inspector finds murder in an over-the-top concept restaurant. Who says vegetarians don't really like food? Texas vegan Poppy Markham has built her life around edibles. As the daughter of Mitch Markham, owner of Markham's Grille & Cocktails, she earned her chops as head chef. But after a fellow employee set her bedroom on fire (If You Can't Stand the Heat, 2011), Poppy traded her toque for a job with the food police, issuing permits for the myriad eateries dotting Austin's culinary scene. The very latest food venture, she discovers, is being built by two of Poppy's high school classmates, ex-football stars Troy and Todd Sharpe. The jocks have a bizarre twist: offer guests a choice of the last meals enjoyed by a variety of criminals shortly before their executions. But their grisly plan takes an even more grisly turn when Poppy checks out their three-part sink and finds Troy dangling from the second-floor catwalk. Investigating Troy's death is just the break Poppy needs from trying to patch things up with food critic Jamie Sherwood, who sent their relationship into a nose dive by sleeping with another woman. She also has to mull the return of her ex-fiance, Drew Cooper, who abruptly disappeared into the blue yonder years back, obliging her to fall in love with perfidious Jamie. Now that Mitch has hired Drew as general manager at Markham's, where Poppy's temperamental stepsister Ursula has her eyes all over him, the need to keep a delicate balance between two gorgeous but unreliable guys makes solving a murder look as easy to Poppy as inspecting a hot dog stand. Murder is definitely at the back of the house in Poppy's second case, with jousting between exes firmly planted in the front.

Product Details

Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD.
Publication date:
Poppy Markham: Culinary Cop , #2
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Barnes & Noble
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File size:
3 MB

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Meet the Author

Robin Allen is the author of the Poppy Markham: Culinary Cop Mystery series. Her writing has also appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, Country Woman Magazine and Writers' Journal. In addition to writing, Allen has worked as a food server, cocktail waitress, bartender, and barista. She holds a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and is a member of Austin's Heart of Texas Sisters in Crime (SinC) chapter. She can be found online at RobinAllenTX.blogspot.com.

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Stick a Fork in It 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
SharonRedfern More than 1 year ago
Starts slow but worth reading to the end! Stick a Fork in It is the second book in the Poppy Markham: Culinary Cop series. Poppy is a former chef at her family’s restaurant and now works as a health inspector. In the course of her duties, she does the inspection for a new restaurant called Capital Punishment. The premise of the restaurant is that it will serve the last meals of famous killers. The owners of the place turn out to be old classmates of Poppy’s-twin brothers who were part of the in crowd and their partner who was one of their bullying victims. Poppy runs into problems with the inspection and has to keep coming back and eventually she is the one who finds a dead body on the premises. There are disgruntled employees, old grudges, possible illegal worker issues, and cheating spouses all in the mix. Poppy has her hands full dealing with the unpredictable owners while trying to solve the murder case. During all of this action, Poppy is struggling with personal issues of her own. She has forgiven her boyfriend for cheating on her and they are working hard to mend the relationship. The fact that he is a restaurant critic and trying to pry details about the new place from her adds to the mild feeling of untrustworthiness. Add to the situation the re-emergence of Poppy’s first serious love that left her in the lurch but has returned to the area, and Poppy has a lot on her plate (so to speak). I don’t know if it was the restaurant concept that bothered me, but I had a little bit of a hard time getting into the story. However, after the first couple of chapters, it really held my interest. I actually found all of the inspection references interesting and the characters were well fleshed out whether good and bad folks. The resolution of the murder was believable and there was a little twist towards the end and will keep fans of the series wondering about where Poppy will be going romance wise.
Mel_Writes More than 1 year ago
Author Robin Allen cooks up another savory delight readers will eat up in STICK A FORK IN IT, the second book in the series about Austin/Travis County health inspector Poppy Markham: Culinary Cop. Enticing appetizers for cozy mystery connoisseurs are promptly served in Chapter One of this humorous, clean book, starting with the author’s great opening line and first paragraph. “A couple of weeks ago, an employee at my father's restaurant tried to kill me by setting my bedroom on fire. ... When that didn't work, he tried to lock me in the restaurant's walk-in refrigerator and freeze me to death." Readers’ appetites are whetted further with the promise that much more of “the good stuff” is surely to follow because Allen continues to throw in one intriguing morsel right after the other as each page is turned. Poppy’s first assignment in STICK A FORK IN IT is to perform a food permit inspection for a new Austin restaurant that is decorated inside and out to resemble a prison and is named “Capital Punishment.” The items on the menu are each named after a death row inmate and consist of what food the condemned truly asked for as a last meal request. For example, if a diner craves two pints of mint chocolate-chip ice cream, then the meal to order would be a “Timothy McVeigh.” The main plot of this novel is that before Capital Punishment can get everything up to par to pass inspection, a death occurs. One of the restaurant’s owners, Troy Sharpe, is found with a rope around his neck, hanging in the middle of the dining room. Or wait … IS it Troy, or is it his twin brother Todd? “Culinary Cop” (and former chef) Poppy Markham intends to solve this “whodunit” mystery in the two weeks or so before Capital Punishment’s scheduled opening night. I loved author Allen’s voice and her clever humor in her first book, IF YOU CAN'T STAND THE HEAT, and Allen doesn’t disappoint in bringing that same great style to Stick a Fork In It. For instance, several witty comments are always tossed back and forth each time a conversation occurs between Poppy and her ex-boyfriend Jamie, who is a former newspaper journalist and current freelance food writer. One example is when Poppy and Jamie are discussing Jeffrey Dahmer, the convicted serial killer nicknamed “The Milwaukee Cannibal.” Poppy asks Jamie, “What do you think was his last meal?” and Jamie answers, “Manwiches.” I laughed out loud on that one! Just like with Allen’s first book, I once again enjoyed the food-related descriptions in this second book, such as: “I sat in my Jeep in the Markham’s parking lot roasting like a Peking duck while I pondered Daisy’s insight.” The author also has a talent for using other descriptions and making comparisons that are never trite, such as: “Her eyes grew as wide as Vinnie Barbarino’s bell-bottoms.” Author Allen did a great job in keeping this reviewer from guessing the killer’s identity in STICK A FORK IN IT. I’m pretty sure regardless if other readers solve the mystery or not, once a reader has sampled some of author Robin Allen's creations, a request for seconds will surely follow.