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?
"A must-read for cozy lovers."—Publishers Weekly
"An entertaining mystery set in the modern, dynamic city of Austin, Stick a Fork in It demonstrates Robin Allen's knowledge and skill as she masters her craft and entertains her readers."—Texas Books in Review
About 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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
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.