G. P. Gottlieb, "Charred: A Whipped and Sipped Mystery" (DX Varos, 2023)


In Charred, the third of G. P. Gottlieb’s Whipped and Sipped Mysteries, her heroine, Alene Baron, has a lot on her mind. Chicago is in lockdown, a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, complicating Alene’s already hectic life. The vegan café she owns can serve only takeout, and her three kids complain constantly about school via Zoom and the near-absence of opportunities to interact with their friends. Alene’s ex-husband is, as ever, no help. Her aging father also requires assistance, a reality complicated when his usual caretaker falls ill with the virus. Alene struggles to find time even to visit the café, never mind bake. But with her livelihood at stake, she must keep showing up, no matter how many conflicting demands tug her in other directions.

On the up side, Alene’s romance with Frank, a police officer, is progressing—although they have yet to make the relationship permanent. And conflict among her staff members has eased, even though they still argue about the best approach to the pandemic and the homeless man who regularly stations himself outside the café and insults staff and customers as they go in and out, among other issues.

All that changes when Kofi, the boyfriend of a Whipped and Sipped staff member, stumbles over a charred corpse while searching for wood he can use in his artwork. Kofi’s girlfriend begs Alene not to involve the police, despite Alene’s protests that keeping secrets will undermine her relationship with Frank. Soon Alene has no choice but to find out what’s behind the mysterious death, even if it means delving into the long-buried secrets of her own family.

G. P. Gottlieb hosts New Books in Literature, a podcast channel in the New Books Network. Charred is her third novel.

C. P. Lesley is the author of two historical fiction series set during the childhood of Ivan the Terrible and three other novels. Her latest book, Song of the Storyteller, appeared in January 2023.

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C. P. Lesley

C. P. Lesley is the author of two historical fiction series set during the childhood of Ivan the Terrible and four other novels. Her latest book, The Merchant's Tale, co-written with P.K. Adams, appeared in November 2023.

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