Tag Archives: Virginia Lowell

A Day in the Life with Olivia Greyson by Virginia Lowell

Dead Men Dont Eat CookiesIn case we haven’t met, I’m Olivia Greyson, but everyone calls me Livie. . . except my brother, Jason, who calls me Olive Oyl. . . though only in public.

I must admit, I was expecting more peace and quiet when I moved back from Baltimore to my little hometown, Chatterley Heights, a few years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life here. I opened a store, The Gingerbread House, devoted to anything and everything cookie. My business partner, Maddie Briggs, is also my best friend since age ten, as well as a decorated-cookie artist and computer whiz. My feisty little rescue Yorkie, Spunky, and I live right above The Gingerbread House in the upper story of a sweet Queen Anne for which I owe a bundle to the Chatterley Heights bank.

Workdays can be hectic, fun, and sometimes frustrating. I’m surrounded by shiny cookie cutters, sparkling sugars, fancy stand mixers, cookbooks. . . Customers can hang out in the cookbook nook with a cup of Italian roast and a decorated cookie. Out on the sales floor, Spunky receives forbidden treats from visitors as he holds court from his antique chair.

Life is peaceful and comfortable, except for a few infuriating townsfolk and the occasional murder.

Each morning, when I open The Gingerbread House, I hope for a quiet, humdrum day. I rarely get my wish. Resentments can run deep in a small town, and we do seem to have our share of murders in Chatterley Heights. Somehow Maddie and I find ourselves involved in the investigations. Even with a business to run, it’s hard to stay on the sidelines when crime affects people you care about.

Right now, for example. . . My mom has been busy renovating an old Depression-era boarding house so she can open an arts and crafts school. We were just over there helping her set up a brand-new kitchen, and we found… well, I promised the Chatterley Heights sheriff, Del Jenkins—who also happens to be my “special friend,” as my mom would say—that I wouldn’t broadcast the details. But just between you and me, human remains were involved. They’d been hidden away for some time, too.

But was the death due to murder, or wasn’t it? Hard to tell before the forensic folks take a look, but who knows when that will happen. Del is tied up with more active cases at the moment. This is a cold case, he said, so it goes on the back burner. I suggested the case might warm up once it’s been on that back burner for a while. Del just sighed and urged me not to investigate.

Nevertheless, Maddie and I thought we’d poke around a bit—you know, for my mom’s sake. She is desperate to get her arts and crafts school up and running. She hasn’t been her perky, centered self since her yoga instructor moved back to Baltimore. Besides, if the trail is so cold, what harm could it do to investigate on our own?

You can read more about Livie in Dead Men Don’t Eat Cookies, the sixth book in the “Cookie Cutter Shop” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first book in the series is Cookie Dough or Die.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on July 30 for the chance to win a print copy of Dead Men Don’t Eat Cookies. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected.

Visit Virginia at www.virginialowell.com

Short and Quick Reviews

Crime RibCrime Rib by Leslie Budewitz is the second book in the “Food Lover’s Village” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, July 2014

I love the pace and the comfortable tone of this light fare filled with delicious food to savor and a mystery to solve. The main characters are back and this one kept me glued to the pages, as I had to know who did what to whom.

Cookies and ScreamCookies and Scream by Virginia Lowell is the fifth book in the “Cookie Cutter Shop” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, July 2014

This was an enjoyable read that entertained and kept me engaged from beginning to end with a good mystery that quickly became a page-turner.

Grace Against the ClockGrace Against The Clock by Julie Hyzy is the fifth book in the “Manor House” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, July 2014

This is another great read from Julie Hyzy in a series that continues to shine with a cast of characters that have their own idiosyncrasies that plays in this strong showing.

A Vision in VelvetA Vision in Velvet by Juliet Blackwell is the sixth book in the “Witchcraft” mystery series.  Publisher: Obsidian, July 2014

This series gets better and better with each book and I’m glad. This was a great read and fun as well. I enjoy the interaction and dialogue among this great cast of characters. A good mystery that quickly became a page-turner. I look forward to the next book in this magically delightful series.

Terminal CityTerminal City by Linda Fairstein is the 16th book in the “Alexander Cooper” thriller series. Publisher: Dutton, June 2014

I love this book. The suspense kept me turning the pages and the banter between Mercer and Coop and Coop and Mike kept me entertained. I also love how Linda uses NYC as the backdrop and with this one gave us an inside look at Grand Central Terminal. Keep up the good work and I look forward to the next adventures with Mercer, Coop and Mike.

Chatting With Maddie Briggs by Virginia Lowell

One Dead CookieMurder, Marriage, and Money: Those three items were absent from my life a few years ago. That was before my best friend since age ten, Olivia (Livie) Greyson, returned to her hometown, Chatterley Heights, Maryland, with a divorce decree and a dream. Together, Livie and I opened The Gingerbread House, a wonderland of cookies, cookie cutters, and… well, everything cookie aficionados didn’t know they needed. The money isn’t exactly pouring in, but it sure beats my previous, sub-minimum wage job at a now-defunct bakery, where we peddled plain donuts and oatmeal cookies. On Saturdays, we sprinkled powdered sugar on the donuts and threw a handful of raisins into the cookie dough.

Now I’m chief cookie creator and decorator for The Gingerbread House. It’s the perfect job for me. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I tend to get enthusiastic. Also, I don’t need much sleep, and I often wake up early with a scrumptious idea for a cookie recipe. I may stumble over simple math, but when it comes to decorated cookies, I’m a creative genius. Or was that over the top? Anyway, I adore inventing new cookies recipes and decorating cutout cookies with wildly colored royal icing.

As if all that weren’t enough to make me deliriously happy, I’m about to marry Lucas Ashford. He owns Heights Hardware, right next door to The Gingerbread House. I’ve had a crush on Lucas forever, but nothing blossomed between us until Livie and I opened the store. Lucas is shy. I guess he didn’t notice me until I became the girl next door.

Between you and me, I do have one concern, and it’s a big one. I’m worried we might soon have a murder in Chatterley Heights. (No, I’m not planning to do away with anyone, but if I were, it would be Binnie Sloan, editor of The Weekly Chatter. When Binnie can’t dig up dirt on us, she makes it up.) I wouldn’t be so anxious if it weren’t for my upcoming wedding. Maybe I’m superstitious, but whenever we have an important event or a new arrival in Chatterley Heights, murder makes an appearance. And somehow Livie and I wind up in the thick of it.

It all started when a good friend of Livie’s was murdered. (Cookie Dough or Die) Livie was devastated. At first, the police thought Clarisse had killed herself, but Livie couldn’t believe that. Well, we had to get involved, of course. We got through that whole episode, which wasn’t easy, and we figured life would quiet down again. We figured wrong. A sugar-phobic, health-food nut, who severely tested my sunny disposition, opened a store next to The Gingerbread House. (A Cookie Before Dying) Pretty soon we, meaning Livie, found a body in the park. Coincidence? I’ll leave that to you to figure that out.

I’d love to say that murder has taken a break since then, but no such luck. Last fall, in the midst of Chatterley Heights’ two-hundred-fiftieth birthday celebration… you guessed it, we had another murder. Once again, Livie got sucked into the investigation—by the sheriff, no less! Livie and Sheriff Del Jenkins are an item, by the way. That’s just between you and me… and the entire town of Chatterley Heights.

You can see why I am, as they say, gun shy. I’m not one of those bridezilla types who demands a perfect wedding or else, but it would be nice to get through the ceremony in one piece. Although if anyone ruins the gorgeous dress my Aunt Sadie made for me, I’ll kill… um, never mind. I’m probably worrying for nothing. Hey, you should come to my wedding! It’ll be fun! I promise lots and lots of decorated cookies and—keep your fingers crossed—no dead bodies. Or did I just jinx my own wedding?

Thanks to Penguin, I have one (1) copy of ONE DEAD COOKIE to give away. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. The book will be shipped directly from the publisher. Contest ends July 12; US entries only per publisher’s request.

Spend some time with Maddie Briggs and Livie Greyson as they solve another murder and bake lots of cookies in ONE DEAD COOKIE, the fourth book in the “Cookie Cutter Shop” mysteries. The book was released July 2. Join the fun and try the recipes!

Meet the author
You can visit and contact Virginia Lowell, author of the national bestselling Cookie Cutter Shop series, at www.virginialowell.com. The first book in the series is Cookie Dough Or Die. Virginia is hard at work on the fifth book in the series, as yet untitled; however, she promises a murder will be involved. And cookies.

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

A Cookie Before Dying by Virginia Lowell

A Cookie Before Dying by Virginia Lowell is the second book in the “Cookie Cutter Shop” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime (Penguin), December 2011

Olivia Greyson is the proud owner of The Gingerbread House—a quaint shop that specializes in all things cookie—and her best friend, Maddie, is her sidekick, baking up scrumptious treats for their cookie-themed parties. But there’s no sugarcoating a fellow shop owner’s terrible temper.

One morning Livie’s lawn is covered with what looks like a generous sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar, but in fact are balled-up flyers reading SUGAR KILLS. She assumes they were distributed by Charlene Critch, the uptight owners of The Vegetable Plate. When Livie heads to Charlene’s store, she finds the place trashed and catches sight of a man running out the back door.

Charlene refuses to believe Livie’s story about the intruder, and the feud between the two escalate when Maddie celebrates the harvest with cookies shaped like fruits and vegetables, setting Charlene off again. Could Charlene be hiding a secret serious enough to kill for? Responding to a dog howling on a stormy night, Livie and her Yorkie, Spunky, discover the body of a man who was stabbed to death—and looks suspiciously like the one who fled Charlene’s store. Perhaps sugar is not all that kills.

Livie spots an intruder in the business next door and when he later turns up dead, Livie begins an investigation as this case hits a little too close to home. What a great read. This well-layered, page-turning mystery kept me on my toes as I tried to guess who the killer was and every time I thought I knew, the author had me changing directions. I love this great cast, especially Livie who is a spunky and determined adversary. This was delightfully entertaining read with an ending that left promises that I can’t wait to read in the next book in this enjoyable series.

A Day In The Life Of Olivia Greyson by Virginia Lowell

Sometimes my day starts in the middle of the night… with murder. So far, I haven’t been the victim or the perpetrator, but I have experienced the occasional brush with pre-dawn homicide since moving back to my little hometown of Chatterley Heights, Maryland. I’m Olivia Greyson, but everyone calls me Livie. Except my younger brother, Jason, who calls me Olive Oyl, and my flower-child mother, who seems to think my name is Dear.

But back to murder…. I am not a private detective, though I love a good mystery. On a typical morning, I’m up by six a.m., in time to feed and walk my bossy little Yorkshire Terrier, Spunky. We live on the second floor of a sweet Queen Anne home into which I sank my entire divorce settlement. The ground floor became The Gingerbread House, a store that specializes in cookie cutters, baking equipment, cookie cookbooks, edible decorations—anything and everything cookie. Every morning, when I let myself into the store, I pause to breathe in the sweet scents that linger in the air from yesterday’s baking. If my business partner and best friend since age ten, Maddie Briggs, has arrived early, she will already be mixing, rolling, and cutting cookies. This morning I smell nutmeg and hear off-key yet enthusiastic snatches of Hark the Herald Angels Sing, so I know Maddie is creating cookies for a Holiday event we’ve been hired to host.

I send Spunky off to sniff every corner of the store before he settles on his favorite chair at the front window, where he can watch the town square awaken. Leaving him on guard duty, I head into the kitchen. Maddie has just opened the oven door, and a wave of warm, buttery air envelopes me.

On a normal day, The Gingerbread House opens at nine, and we have a steady stream of customers until closing at six. Only we don’t have many normal days. Now that I’m involved with Del Jenkins, the Chatterley Heights sheriff, customers often stop by for the latest gossip. And sometimes they ask me for help. Maddie and I have poked our noses into a couple local murders and picked up a useful tidbit or two. Or is that bragging? Del gets nervous about my activities. I tell him a little tension is good for a relationship. He sighs a lot.

Maddie slides another sheet of cookies into the oven and says, “Hey, sleepyhead. Del called.”

I glance at the kitchen clock. “It’s only six-thirty. By which I mean the six-thirty that happens in the morning. Why would Del call so early? And by the way, you have flour in your hair. Dusty red works for you.”

Maddie has a big grin that bunches up her freckled cheeks. “Looks like you’re free for lunch today. Del was up all night, so he’s canceling your date. Something about a murder. He was surprised you weren’t the one who found the body.” Maddie dips a cookie cutter in flour and sinks it into her rolled dough. “So anyway,” she says, “it’s Saturday, so the store will be closed for the next two days. You and I need to dig into this murder.”

Did I mention that Maddie is an enabler? “Why?” I ask.

“Because the victim is an old friend of ours, and Del just arrested another old friend on suspicion of murder. I don’t think she did it.” Maddie hands me an apple-shaped cookie decorated with fuchsia royal icing and pink sugar sprinkles. “Have some breakfast.”

Sometimes my day starts with murder. And a cookie.

Join Olivia as she tackles a new mystery in A COOKIE BEFORE DYING, which just came out on December 6. COOKIE DOUGH OR DIE is the first book in the series, and the third book, WHEN THE COOKIE CRUMBLES, will be released August 7, 2012. Virginia is hard at work on the fourth installment.

Virginia Lowell is the national bestselling author of the Cookie Cutter Shop mystery series. You can visit Virginia at: www.virginialowell.com.

** Virginia has generously offered to give away one signed copy of A COOKIE BEFORE DYING. To enter, you must leave a valid e-mail address in the comment box with your comment. One entry per person and this is open to anyone with a U.S. mailing address. Contest ends on December 14th at 6pm EST. The winner will be chosen using a random number generator and will be notified by e-mail and has 2 days to respond. Book will be shipped directly from the author. **

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

Cookie Dough or Die by Virginia Lowell

Cookie Dough or Die by Virginia Lowell is the first book in the new “Cookie Cutter Shop” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime (Penguin), April 2011

Olivia Greyson is the proud owner of The Gingerbread House—a quaint shop that specializes in all things cookie—and her best friend, Maddie, is he sidekick, baking up scrumptious treats for their cookie-themed parties. But now they must take a break from baking and turn their attention to re-creating a recipe for murder.

No one is more shocked than Olivia when prominent business owner Clarisse Chamberlain is found dead. It was Clarisse who encouraged Olivia to open The Gingerbread House—and she was one of her best customers. The sheriff is ready to call the case an accident, but Olivia’s convinced there’s a murder to solve.

Then word spreads that Clarisse left Olivia a large sum of money, along with a collection of valuable antique cookie cutters. Suddenly, Olivia is the prime suspect, and when the local postman falls ill after sampling one of their cookies, all eyes are on The Gingerbread House. If the cookie-loving duo doesn’t find the real killer, their reputation—and quite possibly their lives—will be battered for good.

In this debut series, we are introduced to Olivia and her best friend Maddie who are partners in a shop that sells cookie cutters and cookies. Livvie has become good friends with Clarisse, one of her customers and when Clarisse suddenly dies, the police deem it an accidental death. Having known Clarisse, Livvie thinks there’s more to her death and begins to question recent incidents in Clarisse’ life and believes that someone may have murdered her friend. With help from Maddie, this crime-solving duo searches for answers by leaving cookie crumbs that only the killer will pick up. This was a great read. With a wonderful cast of characters and a great setting, this story will have you craving for one more cookie. The tone was very comfortable and the witty and entertaining dialogue kept me engaged as I quickly turned the pages. The mystery was good and the author kept me guessing while I got to know more about the two protagonists. This is a welcome addition to the cozy genre and I hope this enjoyable series continues.

*new-to-me author

FTC Full Disclosure – The publisher sent me a copy of this book

previously posted on the Cozy Chicks blog