Thursday, January 29, 2015

Diners, Drive-Ins and Death {+ Giveaway}

Diners, Drive-Ins and Death - Thoughts in ProgressIt’s a pleasure to welcome author Christine Wenger here today to talk about her latest release, DINERS, DRIVE-INS AND DEATH, the third installment in her Comfort Food Mystery series.

During her stop Christine will be sharing rambling thoughts on being an author of a ‘Comfort Food’ series. In addition, I have a print copy of DINERS, DRIVE-INS AND DEATH to giveaway to celebrate the release thanks to Christine and the lovely Danielle at Penguin Group. Please see the end of the post for more details on the giveaway.

Here’s a brief description of the new cozy.

      For Sandy Harbor’s tastiest comfort food, venture to the Silver Bullet Diner. But head next door to the new drive-in theater if you have an appetite for murder….
      Trixie Matkowski has a tall order to fill this fall. Aside from dishing out delicious fare at the Silver Bullet during peak fishing season, she’s helping her friend—Antoinette Chloe Brown, or ACB for short—open a drive-in movie theater in the vacant lot beside her diner. It’s just the thing to take ACB’s mind off Nick, her missing biker beau.
      But their plans are fried after Nick’s body is discovered during the groundbreaking for the drive-in. And when the police connect the murder weapon to ACB, she becomes the prime suspect in eighty-sixing Nick. With the fate of her innocent friend and her business on the line, Trixie must make the guilty party pay up before someone else gets stiffed…. 

Includes Delicious Home-Style Recipes!
Now please join me in giving a warm welcome to Christine as she talks about her rambling thoughts. Welcome, Christine.

First, let me explain that wild title above. My series for Penguin/Obsidian Books are all cozy mysteries and each one has a comfort food theme. 

You might ask, “Hey, Chris, what is COMFORT FOOD? “Well, dear reader, it is what I’d like to think of is food or sweets that grandma used to make, or mom used to make, or dad always made, or Joe at the diner makes. It’s your favorite go-to food when you are feeling low and need some comfort. It’s the way mom makes that sweet potato casserole. It’s that meatloaf you grew up on. It’s grandma’s apple pie and now you have the recipe and make it every Thanksgiving for your kids. And hopefully, one of your kids will make it for their kids.

You might also ask, “Hey, Chris, what’s the setting for your comfort food series?” Well, dear reader, I picked the perfect setting for my series: a diner! My character, Trixie Matkowski’s Silver Bullet Diner, located in small town Sandy Harbor, New York, is on the shore of Lake Ontario.

Trixie Matkowski has the same first name as my favorite childhood sleuth, Trixie Belden. As a kid, you could always find me lying on my bed reading and re-reading Trixie’s adventures. I’d be done with one book, and have the next open so I wouldn’t miss a word. I’d like to think that Trixie Matkowski is a lot like me. We have a lot of things in common: love of food and desserts, love of Lake Ontario, small towns, little rental cottages, quirky friends and Polish heritage.

Like Trixie Matkowski, I’ve always been a foodie and love to cook and bake. As for diners, I have my local favorites that have stood the test of time and various owners. A lot of the old diners, like the Silver Bullet, were fashioned after railroad dining cars. My grandfather used to work at Onondaga Pottery (which turned into Syracuse China and is now defunct) which made china for various diners, restaurants, and even railroad dining cars. I have several collectible railroad china pieces, and whenever I use it, I think of where it might have traveled and the dining cars in which it sat.

Friends who have read my books relish in sharing their favorite diners with me. Oh, the hardship! Great food and great company. So, while I should be writing, instead I am eating at various new and old diners.
But my favorite will always be diners like the Silver Bullet, a shiny aluminum establishment from the 1950’s or so, with a grand history and food that comforts. The smell of coffee permeates the air, and deserts take a ride on a lighted carousel. The waitresses are friendly and no one rushes you out.

Think of me sitting across from you in a booth with a worn Formica table and red vinyl seats that ergonomically form to my butt. I’ll be the one eating fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy and buttered corn on the side.

“Of course, Nancy, I’d love desert. I’ll have a cup of thick black coffee with my apple pie. Definitely, a la mode. Vanilla ice cream, please!”

Christine, thanks for visiting with us today and sharing your ramblings. Comfort food and cozies definitely go together. 

Here’s a bit of background on Christine for those that aren’t familiar with her and her writing in her own words.

I have worked in the criminal justice field for more years than I care to remember! It seems like I was forever going to school while I was working full time, but in the end, I received a dual master's degree in Probation and Parole Studies and Sociology from Fordham University. Unfortunately, the knowledge gained from way too many years in night school, didn’t prepare me for what I love to do the most – writing romances and cozy mysteries.

A new venture for me (in 2013) was a series of “comfort food” cozy mysteries which I set in a small-town 1950’s diner, THE SILVER BULLET. 

The first book, DO OR DINER, from Penguin/Obsidian books released in August 2013. A second book, A SECOND HELPING OF MURDER, followed in 2014, and a third, DINERS, DRIVE-INS AND DEATH released this month. 

Of course I have to do research for my comfort food diner series. That takes me to diners all over the U.S. and Canada (and maybe Europe and Asia!) for meals. It’s a tough job, but I just have to do it!

For more on Christine and her writing, visit her website.

Here are my thoughts on this fun mystery:

Author Christine Wenger has created fun and likable characters in this delightful cozy. The protagonist, Trixie Matkowski, is a dedicated and loyal friend who is strong and determined with flaws readers can relate to. The secondary characters are quirky and add depth to the story.

The small town setting quickly draws readers in and holds their attention with charm and heart. The story flows smoothly with twists and turns. The combination of humor, friendship and a touch of romance blends well with the suspense and mystery.

To add to the diner and drive-in experience, there are yummy recipes included. DINERS, DRIVE-INS AND DEATH is an entertaining mystery that will keep you guessing until the end.

Diners, Drive-Ins and Death by Christine Wenger, A Comfort Food Mystery Book #3, Obsidian, @2015, ISBN: 978-0451415103, Paperback, 304 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.


This giveaway is for one print copy of DINERS, DRIVE-INS AND DEATH. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end at 12 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 6. 

To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and following the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load, so please be patient. The winner from this giveaway will have 72 hours to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. The email will have ‘Thoughts in Progress Christine Wenger’s Tour’ in the subject line, just so you know what to watch for (in case it goes into your spam folder).

Do you remember drive-in theatres? If so, do you have a favorite movie that you watched at a drive-in? What was the best thing about drive-in theatres to you?

Thanks for stopping by today during Christine’s visit. I hope we’ve enticed you to check out DINERS, DRIVE-INS AND DEATH.

*This post contains affiliate links.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Perhaps it is just me, but murder seems to go soooo well with cooking. And a cosy cooking book plus death will get me in every time.

  2. I remember seeing "Bullitt" with Steve McQueen at the drive-in. We went in a station wagon with neighbors and the kids got to lay on a blanket in front of the car. We had a blast!

  3. I love cozies based around food, great series, thanks for the chance to win :)

  4. Most Southern food classifies as comfort food.
    Congratulations, Christine.
    And Mason, last year it was cats. This year it's dogs on the cover. Have you noticed?

    1. Alex, I hadn't realized dogs were taking over this year but you do have a point. Seems 2015 may feature more dogs. In fact, two books I just finished had dogs as part of the story instead of cats.

  5. We had drive-ins all over. We used to get the kids in their pj's and head off to see a movie. They would fall asleep and we could watch. Fun times.

  6. Comfort food, especially baked goods that help warm up the house, are perfect this time of year! Thanks!

  7. I remember seeing Smoky and The Bandit at the drive in.

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

  8. Mason - Thanks for hosting Christine.

    Christine - Thanks for sharing a little of the background of Diners, Drive-Ins and Death. There is definitely something about good ol' comfort food... I wish you success.

  9. I love cozy mysteries—thanks for the chance to win this book!

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

  10. This sounds like a good book to 'cozy' up with and I love the title.

    wfnren at aol dot com

  11. This book is a beaut, love diners, and their food is the ultimate. many thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  12. Christine, thanks again for visiting with us. Living in the South I'm a fan of comfort food and drive-ins. Wishing you much success.

    Hi, all. Thanks for dropping by today.

  13. I love diners! Have so many great memories going to them with my father, mother and brothers. I have to read this cozy!

  14. I loved drive in theaters. As a kid we usually fell asleep but we thought that it was fun sleeping in the car. One place we lived when my oldest daughter was little actually had 2 drive ins in the area, we were thrilled. We would load her into the car and went quite often, if she made a noise we didn't have to worry about her disturbing anyone, I wish they would bring them back.

  15. I used to go to drive-ins a long time ago but there aren't any around here anymore. We still have a diner that I enjoy going to. I'd love to read this. I'm sure I will enjoy it.

  16. Christine, I love the idea of focusing on the diners. I read Trixie Belden as well! Sounds like yours is a great series, and what fun to try out all those diners!

  17. The cover makes me happy! I LOVE anything 50s. I even worked at a 50s diner in the 80s (when we were all 50s-crazed!). I want to hang this cover on my wall as a painting.

  18. I enjoyed going to the drive-in. I remember seeing Irma Ladeuce too many times, so I just wanted to make out.

  19. I remember drive-ins and we have one about a 45 minute drive away and we'd take my daughter every summer so she'd could expeience it before they closed. Guess what, the drive-in is still there and still a great treat!

  20. My tweet shortcut was wrong for Saturday. It should be this!!

  21. I love mysteries with food and recipes in them. Would like to start this series.

  22. This looks like such a fun read! I'd la la LOVE to win!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.