The Statue of Liberty is 130 years old, and for the struggling residents of Hubbard, Ohio, any opportunity to bring in tourists is reason enough for a celebration. Laurel Inwood and her aunt, Sophie, are pitching in. Sophie’s Terminal at the Tracks, a former greasy spoon turned charming ethnic eatery, will be offering French cuisine for the entire week.
For expert help with their quiche and escargot, the ladies turn to Raquel “Rocky” Arnaud, a former French chef and friend of Sophie. What looks like a match made in heaven turns rank as quickly as buttermilk on a summer’s day. Rocky turns up dead and when her nightly red wine shows notes of oak, cinnamon, and poison, Laurel turns from soufflé to sleuth.
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"Bone sue war!"
I was putting the last touches on the quiches about to go into the oven, so I didn't turn around when someone bumped through the kitchen door of Sophie's Terminal at the Tracks and called out the greeting.
I didn't need to.
I'd recognize Sophie Charnowski's voice—and her lousy French accent—anywhere.
Then again, I should. It had been six months since I'd left California and arrived in Hubbard, Ohio, to run what I thought was Sophie's white-linen-and-candlelight restaurant while she had knee-replacement surgery. Six months since I found out that the elegant restaurant she'd lied about for years was really a greasy spoon in an old train station that anchored a battered-but-trying-to-gentrify part of town.
Six months since I'd been embroiled as much in murder as I was in cooking.
The thought hit, and a touch like icy fingers squirmed its way up my back. I twitched it aside and called over my shoulder. "Bonsoir, Sophie. Any sign of Rocky yet?"
"No! She is nowhere to be seen, yes?" Sophie tried for a French lilt that pinged around the tile and stainless steel kitchen and fell flat. With her usual good humor, she laughed it away and came up behind me so she could stand on tiptoe and peek over my shoulder at the six quiches on the counter.
"Oh, Laurel, they look fabulous!" Sophie breathed in deep. "Think six will be enough?"
I wiped my hands on the white apron looped around my neck. "We've got three more in the fridge and George will pop them in the oven if we need them," I told Sophie at the same time I glanced across the kitchen. George Porter was leaning back against the industrial fridge, his beefy arms crossed over his massive chest, and a scowl on his face that pretty much said all there was to say about what he thought of quiche.
In spite of the scowl—or maybe because of it—I gave him the kind of smile that said I was sure he was on board with my plan.
George didn't smile back.
But then, what did I expect?
The Terminal's longtime cook was a mountain of a man with more tats on his arms than I had fingers and toes, a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy who was as happy as a cholesterol-challenged clam cooking up the fried eggs, fried baloney, fried steak, and fried chicken that for years had been the staples of the Terminal menu. That is, before I arrived and started introducing healthier dishes and, in a flash of inspiration, featuring ethnic specials.
We'd started with Irish, and that summer had tried Japanese (sushi did not exactly go over big with the Hubbard crowd) and Chinese (popular, but there were plenty of Chinese places in town and I gave up on a menu that seemed to me to be déjà vu all over again). Now, in honor of a town celebration commemorating the anniversary of the dedication of the Statue of Liberty, a gift from France to the people of America, we'd decided to go with the Tricolor flow. French food, but not the fussy kind that's so off-putting to so many people. We were sticking with French country, French bistro. Delicious, accessible, and easy for a man like George to handle. Even if in his heart-of-fried-food hearts, he didn't want to.
I sloughed the thought aside and reminded Sophie, "There are tartines, too."
"Tartines." Her sigh hovered in the ether somewhere between Nirvana and Utopia. In the weeks since we'd started planning our French menu and I'd introduced her to tartines, she'd become something of an addict. And who could blame her?! The knife-and-fork open-faced French sandwiches are delightful.
"We're going to use some of the heirloom tomatoes still coming in from the local farmers," I told Sophie. "We'll put those on some of the tartines along with eggplant. Then for others, we've got ham and Gruyère, and toasted Camembert, walnut, and fig."
"Walnut and fig."
I ignored George when he grunted.
"Now all we need . . ." I glanced at the quiches that looked decidedly naked. "Did Rocky say what time she'd be here with the herbs?"
"I'm late. I know. I'm sorry!"
For the second time in as many minutes, the kitchen door swung open and this time, Raquel Arnaud bumped into the room. Rocky was a friend of Sophie's, but there couldn't be two women who were more different. Sophie was short, plump, and as down-to-earth as her sensible shoes. Her hair was the same silvery color as Rocky's, but while Sophie's was short and shaggy, Rocky's was long and sleek and as glorious as the woman herself.
But then, Rocky had the whole French thing going for her, including just a trace of an accent that hadn't disappeared in spite of the fact that she'd left her native country nearly fifty years earlier.
Rocky was almost as tall as my five-nine, willowy, and as elegant as her clothing. She was a farmer—herbs and specialty vegetables—a woman whose life revolved around the seasons and the weather and the acreage thirty minutes outside of Hubbard where she grew some of the best produce in the state, yet anyone meeting her for the first time would think she'd just stepped out of the house to shop on the Rue de la Paix.
Well, except for that Friday night.
I did a double take.
That evening, graceful and refined Rocky looked . . .
She was wearing the black A-line dress she claimed was a fashion must, but Rocky's hair was uncombed and her lipstick was smudged. Sure, she was running late, and that might account for the slapdash grooming, but nothing I knew about Rocky could explain—
Before I came to Hubbard, I'd worked as a personal chef in Hollywood. Believe me, I knew fashion trends, fashion faux pas, and plain ol' fashion disasters.
I'd never known Raquel Arnaud to dare something as unfashionable and as downright un-French as to wear tennis shoes outside of the house. Especially ones that looked to be encrusted with a week's worth of garden goo.
"I knew I was running late so I chopped the thyme at home."
Before I could even think of what to say or how to ask Rocky if she'd completely lost her mind, she raced over and put a basket on the countertop beside me. There was a white linen towel thrown over the top of it and when Rocky whisked it away, I forgot all about her smeared lipstick and her tennis shoes.
But then, who can resist the heavenly woody/lemony aroma of fresh thyme?
I took a deep breath and automatically found myself smiling.
"Always has that effect on me, too." Rocky gave me a playful poke in the ribs at the same time she reached around me to sprinkle thyme on the quiches. "I brought griselles, too," she said. "But since you're already done with these, they'll have to wait for tomorrow's quiche."
I stepped back to admire the finished quiches. "Bacon, onion, and Swiss today," I told Rocky. "Pretty traditional, I know, but I thought that might be easiest if we get a crowd after the book signing. Tomorrow after the big parade, we'll mix it up with spinach and the shallots in some of the quiches." I peeked at the French shallots—what Rocky called griselles—and took another deep breath, and I swear, I could still smell the scent of autumn earth that clung to the shallots.
And to Rocky.
Carefully, I took another sniff.
A fragrant cloud of Chanel No. 5 usually enveloped Rocky.
That night, she smelled more like wet soil. And red wine.
Lots of red wine.
I guess Sophie noticed, too, because behind Rocky's back, she raised her eyebrows and gave me That Look. The one that said I was supposed to ask what the heck was going on.
Before I could, Rocky pulled a bottle of wine out of the basket she'd brought with her.
"We need to have a glass before we head out, eh?" She didn't wait for us to agree, but reached for the corkscrew she'd also brought along and opened the bottle. "You have glasses, George?" she asked, and since we didn't have a liquor license and there weren't any appropriate wineglasses around, he brought over water glasses. Four of them.
Rocky didn't mind sharing. She poured into each of the glasses and she was just about to take a drink when Sophie stopped her.
"What about a toast?" Sophie asked. "We always have a toast."
"Oh." As if this were a new thought, Rocky blinked and stared into her glass.
This time, Sophie augmented That Look with a scrunched-up nose and a tip of her head in Rocky's direction.
I knew a losing cause when I saw one.
I put a hand on Rocky's arm and couldn't help but notice that when I did, she flinched.
"Are you all right?" I asked. "You seem distracted."
She made a face that would have been convincing if I hadn't spent the last few years of my career as the personal chef of Hollywood megastar Meghan Cohan. I knew actors. Good actors. Bad actors. Rocky fell into the latter category.
"I get so flustered when I'm running late." I guess Rocky forgot all about the toast, because she downed her wine. "We should probably get going, huh? We don't want to miss the book signing."
"Imagine, Aurore Brisson here in Hubbard!" It looked as if Sophie knew a losing cause when she saw one, too, because she gave up on the toast, took a quick sip of wine, and set down her glass. She stepped up beside Rocky. "How exciting it must be for you to have a Frenchwoman here in town. And such a famous one! That book of hers—"
"Yesterday's Passion. Yes, yes." Before Sophie could pilot her to the door, Rocky poured another glass of wine and slugged it down. "I'm anxious to read it. I've always been interested in my country's history but really, I don't know all that much about the Middle Ages. The story sounds so . . . so romantic. Knights, ladies, castles—"
"And that gorgeous hunk, Sam Baker, who's going to play the lead role when the book's made into a TV series!" Sophie grinned and leaned closer to Rocky, speaking in a stage whisper I couldn't fail to hear. "Laurel knows him."
Rocky raised her eyebrows.
"Not well," I admitted because it was better than letting anyone know that Sam Baker had once had an affair with Meghan Cohan and had come on to me one morning while I was getting breakfast ready for the two of them down in the kitchen of Meghan's Malibu mansion. "We've met."
"Is he as gorgeous in person as he is in the movies?" Rocky asked.
He was, and I admitted it. Without adding that he was also a little too much into recreational drugs and other men's wives.
"It's only natural that he's playing the lead. Isn't that right, Laurel?" Sophie asked. "Meghan Cohan herself is producing and directing and starring. She's playing Cecile. The tabloids say they're having an affair, Meghan and Sam." Sophie paused, waiting for me to fill in the blanks. When I didn't, she breezed right on. "Oh, I can't wait to read the book and see the show and see if they stick to the original story. Is that how it works, Laurel? When they make a film or a TV show, do they usually stick to the original story?"
In this case, only if the original story involved late-night fights of epic proportions, accusations thrown back and forth like rocks from a catapult, and a huge and ugly breakup the tabloids had yet to get wind of. No doubt the network had squelched the truth to get as much mileage as they could out of what they were touting as both an on-screen and an offscreen romance.
"Well, I'm buying a copy of the book, that's for sure," Sophie told us. "And I can't wait to get Aurore Brisson's autograph. How clever it was of John and Mike over at the Book Nook to get her here just in time for the Statue of Liberty celebration. She's such a superstar, so young and pretty. I bet there will be a line out the door of the bookstore. Let's get over there fast."
Fast, of course, is a relative word when it comes to Sophie, who always has a patron to stop and say hello to or a neighbor to greet. Then, of course, there was the matter of Sophie's knee. Oh, she didn't move at a snail's pace because of that replacement surgery back in the spring. She'd recovered from that and gone through rehab and all was well. At least for a few weeks. That's when she twisted her knee. While she was on a Mediterranean cruise. On an island. Drinking ouzo and doing the Zorba the Greek dance with some hunky fisherman who emailed her regularly now and called her his little baklava and promised to come visit sometime soon.
To say this new injury annoyed me no end makes me look small-minded when, in fact, it makes sense that I'd be irritated. See, I had no intention of staying in Hubbard and I'd told Sophie that from the start. I promised I'd stay only until she felt better and could take over the management of the restaurant herself again.
Only that didn't look like it was going to happen anytime soon.
I held on to my temper along with the thought that this, too, would pass. And when it did . . .
We had just walked out the front door of the Terminal and a brisk autumn breeze ruffled my hair along with the French flag we were flying from a post out front, and I made sure to keep a smile off my face.
Sophie had an uncanny way of reading into my smiles, and for now, what I knew about how long I was staying and where I might be going when I waved adios to the town that time forgot was my business and mine alone.
We fell into step behind the throngs of people milling in front of the bookstore and slowly making themselves into some sort of orderly line, and while Sophie and Rocky chatted about people I didn't know, I had a few minutes to look around. What was now called the Traintown neighborhood had once been at the heart of Hubbard's industrial center. There were railroad tracks that ran along the back side of the restaurant and six times a day, a train still rumbled by and shook the Terminal to its nineteenth-century foundation. Across the tracks was a factory, long shuttered, just one of the many businesses that had gone south/closed their doors/given up the ghost in what had once been a vibrant community.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Dollycas’s Thoughts Laurel Inwood has stayed in Ohio even though her Aunt Sophie is back to work. She has applied for a job as a private chef and hopes it will be her ticket out of town. Until then, Hubbard is celebrating the Statue of Liberty in its quest to bring more tourists to town and Sophie’s Terminal at the Tracks is serving up French cuisine. Sophie’s friend, a former French chef, Raquel “Rocky” Arnaud has shared some recipes and herbs from her garden to make the dishes as authentic as possible. The city celebration also includes a parade, a signing by a French author, fireworks, and a Statue of Liberty expert will be speaking at the library. Rocky was excited to attend all the events, but she caused a scene at the bookstore and left the parade early. Then she failed to show up for the fireworks. Laurel and Declan are worried about her and with good cause. When they arrive at her little farm, Pacifique (Peaceful), there is loud music playing and Rocky dead in a chair with an open bottle of wine and an empty wine glass on the table next to her. The police arrive and as soon as poisoning is confirmed they decide it was a case of suicide. Both Laurel and Sophie know that can’t be the case. Declan in his efforts to protect Laurel attaches himself to her rogue investigation to prove Rocky was murdered and get Rocky the justice she deserves. Oh, Kylie Logan has cooked us readers up a delicious story!! I love the setting of Sophie’s restaurant and Declan’s store nearby. The unique little traintown is doing all it can to bring in business. Celebrating the 130th birthday of the Statue of Liberty, sure why not. It sets of the French theme of this installment of the series perfectly. The characters are continuing to develop. It was wonderful to see Sophie’s improvement but that gives Laurel the boost to move on. Her coming to help Sophie is just a temporary arrangement. That is why she has worked to keep Declan at arm’s length. But Declan has other ideas. I love the way his whole family supports him in his pursuit of Laurel, even though she isn’t the Irish woman he claims to be looking for. As for the mystery, it was so well written. I was totally floored when the actual killer was revealed. There were a few red herrings thrown into the pot that really changed things up. Even when Laurel started to really get a “picture” of the killer and revealed it out loud, I was like, “no, that can’t be right”. Then after the reveal, there was another little twist that again rocked me to my core, a shiver went right up my spine. I so enjoyed the way the entire story flowed. The subplots melded nicely with the mystery and there were some surprises there too. Ms. Logan knows how to keep our attention for all 300+ pages and leaves us more than ready to rush into the next installment of this series. I am so excited to read Italian Iced! It will be released next week.
Great followup to Irish Stewed. Kylie Logan has written another wonderful cozy, full of entertaining characters, a well plotted mystery, several suspects and motives and some yummy food. Celebrating the 130th birthday of the Statue of Liberty, Laurel, Sophie and the gang are doing The Terminal up right - French food. Sophie's long time friend and former French chef, Rocky is even helping out. Her fresh herbs will do the food up right. Things definitely go wrong when Rocky is found dead. That gets the gang in gear searching for answers. I would recommend French Fried to any foodies that love cozies and a well written mystery full of entertaining characters and great writing. I was given a copy of this book by the publisher. My review and opinion are not based on that and are my own.
French Fried by Kylie Logan is the second book in An Ethnic Eats Mystery series. Laurel Inwood has been in Hubbard, Ohio for the last six months running Sophie’s Terminal at the Tracks. It was supposed to be for a short time while Sophie had her knee surgery and recovered. Recently, Sophie suffered another knee injury requiring Laurel to extend her stay. Hubbard is getting ready for their Statute of Liberty Festival to celebrate the 130th anniversary of the landmark. Terminal at the Tracks will be offering French cuisine (French country/bistro type) in honor of the celebration. Laurel is waiting for Rocky Arnaud, a local farmer, to arrive with a few items before heading over to the Book Nook. Aurore Brisson, author of Yesterday’s Passion, is in town for a book signing event. Rocky arrives looking quite unlike herself and slightly drunk. At the book event, Rocky accuses Aurore of stealing the novel from her deceased friend, Marie Daigneau. They are watching the parade the next day when Rocky suddenly takes off. She sends a text assuring her friends that she is fine and will meet them for the fireworks. That evening Rocky is a no show. Worried about her, Laurel along with Declan Fury (a handsome Irishman) go to Rocky’s farm to check up on her. They discover all the lights on in her home and the music blaring. Inside, Laurel and Declan find Rocky dead in a chair. The police rule Rocky’s death a suicide which enrages Laurel. She knows that Rocky would not kill herself and sets out to find her killer. Can Laurel prove that Rocky was murdered? What happens when Laurel is offered a dream position that will take her out of Hubbard? French Fried is the second book in the series, but it can be read alone. I have not had the opportunity read Irish Stewed (first book in the series), and it did not hinder my understanding in any way. The author provided the background information on Laurel and a synopsis of what occurred in the first novel in An Ethnic Eats Mystery series. I did, though, have trouble with the main character, Laurel Inwood. Sophie is family and asked Laurel to help out. Laurel, though, cannot wait to escape Hubbard which is mentioned in just about every chapter. Declan Fury (a very handsome Irishman with a large family) wants to date Laurel, but she is unwilling to make a commitment (does not want to form attachments that will hinder her from leaving town). I was shocked by Laurel’s choice at the end of the book after all her ranting throughout the novel (I would say more, but it would be a spoiler). Laurel’s personality was unappealing. She has no patience, trouble controlling her temper, and unreasonable. One thing I have discovered after reading cozy mysteries for over fifteen years—you must like the main character in order to enjoy the novel. I give French Fried 3 out of 5 stars (it was satisfactory). There are three storylines (murder, Laurel’s job prospects, and did Aurore Brisson write Yesterday’s Passion) in French Fried that keep the story interesting. The murder mystery was appealing, but I could identify the killer early in the book. One detail gave away the murderer’s identity. There is some repetitive information in French Fried along with numerous food descriptions (does every food item need to be described in detail). The writing style made the book hard to get into (it was not conversational). French Fried failed to capture and hold my attention.
Can Laurel Find a Motive for a Shocking Murder? As much as I enjoy mysteries, I will freely admit there is a certain formula to them, which is why it is always refreshing to find a book that puts a twist on that familiar formula. That’s what we get with French Fried, the second in Kylie Logan’s Ethic Eats Mysteries. As this book opens, the residence of Hubbard, Ohio, are getting ready to celebrate the 130th birthday of the Statue of Liberty. Terminal at the Tracks is getting into the spirit by offering French cuisine in addition to their normal greasy spoon food. Laurel Inwood has been working hard at developing the menu for her foster aunt Sophie’s restaurant, and she’s turned to Sophie’s friend Raquel “Rocky” Arnaud for advice and the herbs that Rocky grows on her farm. Rocky grew up in France, although she’s lived in Ohio for decades, but she is excited for all the events celebrating her heritage. At least she is until the events start; then she starts acting strangely. When Rocky doesn’t show up for the fireworks show, Laurel heads to her place to investigate only to find Rocky dead. The police think it was suicide, but Laurel knows that Rocky would never kill herself. The trouble is, who has a motive to kill the woman? As you can see, this book focuses a bit more on the why than the who. If we can find the correct motive, maybe that will lead Laurel to the killer. As she begins to dig into Rocky’s past, Laurel uncovers several motives for murder. Yes, that means that the story never lags but keeps us moving from one motive and the corresponding suspect to another. The solution was very well done, and like the rest of the book, the satisfying climax didn’t fall into the usual clichés. We’d met several members of the staff at the Terminal in the first book. They really didn’t have much more than cameos in this book, but that’s okay because it really gave us a chance to get to know Laurel, Sophie, and Laurel’s potential love interest Declan better. These three leads are fantastic, and I especially enjoyed a sub-plot that allowed Laurel to grow. Of course, the suspects are strong. We’ve got a varied group of characters introduced here, and I found them a lot of fun. The back of the book includes a recipe for a simple Cassoulet and general directions on creating Tartines. Both of these sound delicious, and are perfect if reading this book has put you in the mood for French food. French Fried is a satisfying mystery that will have you savoring every page. Don’t hesitate to pick up this delightful mystery today. NOTE: I received a copy of this book.
Oh là là. Auteur Kylie Logan nous donne le goût de la France. The first book in the Ethnic Eats Mysteries, IRISH STEWED, was such a great story that it was hard waiting a year for the release of FRENCH FRIED. When I finally got it in my hands, I settled in for the cozy read I had be looking forward to. I absolutely enjoyed being in Hubbard, OH again, and I simply adore Sophie’s Terminal at the Tracks restaurant. I fell in love with the building the first time I “walked” into it in book one. Now, I’m not an adventurous eater, and I don’t eat a lot of ethnic food, but the simple French food Laurel Inwood was making made me so hungry my stomach growled! Good thing author Logan included recipes! This was one of those mysteries where I really liked the murder victim so, I always read much longer than I had planned each time I picked the book up. Not only did I want to know the name of the creep who killed her, there was a mystery with in this mystery and I just had to get to the bottom of it! I know Kylie Logan can write a wonderful mystery, but she really got me with this one. I was clueless even with all the clues flying around. The one thing I was hoping for that didn’t happen in FRENCH FRIED, I wanted Laurel to be more content and settled than she was. I have the feeling she will be in the next installment, but I hope it will be soon into it. I have a hard time enjoying a story one hundred percent when the protagonist doesn’t really want to be there. Over all an entertaining tale, if you liked IRISH STEWED, you will like, FRENCH FRIED.
French Fried is the second book in the An Ethnic Eats Mystery series. The residents of Hubbard are looking forward the celebration of the Statue of Liberty. Local organic gardener, Rachel “Rocky” Arraud, grew up in France and is helping Laurel and Sophie come up with a French menu for The Terminal at the Track diner. One of the items of celebration is the appearance of author Aurore Brisson who is town to sign books and a discussion of her book. As the discussion period is about to begin, Rocky stands and accuses Brisson of stealing the manuscript from a friend of hers, Later that evening Laurel and Declan, a local attorney and shop owner, go to Rocky’s farm to make sure she is okay after the outburst at the bookstore. Music is blaring from Rocky’s home and there is no response to repeated knocking on the door. They find the door unlocked and enter and soon find the lifeless body of lifeless body of Rocky with a glass of wine at her side. The police consider from the beginning that Rocky had poisoned herself. Laurel and Declan feel with all the good things going on in her life just then that it wasn’t suicide but murder. Author Brisson, of course, is one person that needs further looking into. Also, Andrew MacLain, a historian, and expert on the Statue of Liberty is in town for the celebration and his actions set off bells to ring for Laurel. Minnie Greenway, a neighbor of Rocky, claims that she killed her, but Minnie has memory issues when she is off her medicine, but later provide a crucial piece of information for Laurel. After pouring over newspaper articles that Rocky had is a safe deposit box and pictures taken during the Statue of Liberty Day parade, Laurel is pretty sure she is on the trail of the murderer, is she just can get the police to go along with her theory. Another enjoyable visit with the folks of Hubbard. I’m looking forward to my next visit. Recipes are also included.