Saturday, January 29, 2011

Recipe for Murder! by Janet Rudolph

Janet Rudolph is the editor of the Mystery Readers Journal, and creative director/writer at Murder on the Menu and TeamBuilding Unlimited. She blogs daily at Mystery Fanfare and, facilitates a weekly mystery bookgroup, hosts literary salons with mystery authors, and has been a committee member on numerous mystery conventions. A long time contributor to the mystery genre, she received her Ph.D. in religious mystery fiction. She lives in the Berkeley (CA) hills with her husband, a golden retriever, and two cats. Her websites are:, and Blogs: Mystery Fanfare and DyingforChocolate

Recipe for Murder! by Janet Rudolph

Some of you may know me as the Editor of the Mystery Readers Journal, blogger at
Mystery Fanfare and As such you’ll assume, and you’d be
right, that I’m a book collector. I have a passion for collecting ‘things’--
books, to be sure, patriotic Americana embroideries, rugs, American folk art,
and the occasional cat and dog. I love flea markets and garage sales, and the
occasional dumpster. Don’t leave something by the road, because I’m bound to
find it.

Besides the 15,000 mysteries I have collected that are stored both here and in
Bodega Bay…yes, that Bodega Bay-- no birds in the belfry, as far as I know, but
not sure about the garage where many of my books are stored-- I have a passion
for food and the written word.

Mystery Readers Journal has had four issues devoted to Culinary Crime. The last
two issues on the subject were divided into courses. Each contributing author
who wrote an Author! Author! essay, also included a recipe.

Over the years of moderating my weekly mystery book group, I have assigned four
10-week sessions on food mysteries (culinary crime). In two of the sessions I
led, I prepared the ‘suspect’ food in the book for our dining pleasure…sans
poison, of course. This was over 20 years ago, and it was quite unique for its
time. I also set up a Lord Peter Wimsey dinner at a local restaurant where
everything was prepared from the recipes in the Lord Peter Wimsey Cookbook.
Harriet Vane appeared half way through the dinner! Very exciting! I was able to
arrange this since I write and produce mystery events. My company’s name? Murder
on the Menu®! I also set up a Nero Wolfe Dinner. Everyone came in costume, and I
wore Yellow Silk Pajamas. Perhaps my other love of orchids came from the Nero
Wolfe books? But that’s ‘another’ collection.

And this leads me to one of my favorite collections: Literary Cookbooks, books
that tie in with famous mysteries, writers, detectives, TV shows, art, and movies.

I've been collecting Themed Cookbooks for years. For purposes of this post, I’m
confining the list to my mystery cookbooks. This list of titles is in no
particular order and certainly not definitive. I have over 150 mystery themed
cookbooks. My complete Tie-In Cookbook Collection is over 700 and extends to
cookbooks such as Linda Wolfe's The Literary Gourmet which I've bought at least
three times -- it's always so intriguing at the used bookstores that I forget I
already have multiple copies, The George Bernard Shaw Vegetarian Cookbook, The
Pooh Cookbook, Miss Piggy's Cookbook, Dining with Proust, Blondie's Cookbook,
The Cross Creek Cookery, The Rock & Roll Cookbook, and many, many more.

Mystery Cookbooks: A Sampling

The Lord Peter Wimsey Cookbook by Elizabeth Bond Ryan & William J. Eakins
(Ticknor & Fields,1981). This is a classic and a must-have for any fan of
Dorothy L. Sayers.

Cooking with Malice Domestic, edited by Jean McMillen & Ron McMillen (Mystery
Bookshop Bethesda, 1991). I bought this book at Malice the year it came out, and
it's filled with great recipes by authors and fans of the malice domestic
subgenre. I attended the first Malice Domestic conference, and I’m looking
forward to receiving the Poirot Award at this year’s Malice. I’m honored.

Sneaky Pie's Cookbook for Mystery Lovers by Sneaky Pie Brown co-written by Rita
Mae Brown (Bantam, 1999). I envy Rita Mae Brown having a cat who not only cooks
but also writes about it! My cats are much more stereotypical and depend on me
to prepare and serve their food.

The Murder She Wrote Cookbook, edited by Tom Culver and Nancy Goodman Iland
(Chicago Review Press, 1996). This is a compilation of recipes from the cast and

The Cop Cookbook: Arresting Recipes from the World's Favorite Cops, Good Guys
and Private Eyes, by Greta Garner-Hewitt, Ken Beck and Jim Clark, with foreword
by Robert Stack (Rutledge Hill Press, 1977). TV, movie and real cops contribute
to this cookbook with great archival photos of CHiPS, various Femmes Fatales and
more. Take a ride down memory lane.

Cooking to Kill: The Poison Cook-book, concocted by Prof. Ebenezer Murgatroyd
with Comic Drawings by Herb Roth (Peter Pauper Press 1951). A cookbook to "end"
all cooks. Very funny humorous collection of deadly recipes with great

The Nero Wolfe Cookbook by Rex Stout and the Editors of Viking Press (Viking
1973). This is another of my favorites. Any collection would be incomplete
without recipes prepared by Fritz Brenner, Wolfe's world-class personal chef.
Too Many Cooks is my favorite of the food Nero Wolfe mysteries, and this
cookbook contains several recipes from that novel. The photographs in this
cookbook alone are worth the price. There are 44 museum-quality images of New
York in the '30s, '40s, and '50s -- very art deco.

The Kitchen Book by Nicolas Freeling (David Godine, 1970) and The Cookbook by
Nicolas Freeling (David Godin, 1972). Wonderful cookbooks filled with great
recipes encapsulated within cooking text. If you are a fan of Freeling as I am,
you'll want to have these two books in your collection to read on a cold
winter's day.

The Cat Who Cookbook by Julie Murphy & Sally Abney Stempinski with a special
note from Lilian Jackson Braun (Berkeley Prime Crime, 2000). Recipes from the
Cat Who series. Koko and Yum Yum are not the cooks. Perhaps Qwilleran will
become inspired. Includes a special section on feline fare.

Food To Die For by Patricia Cornwell and Marlene Brown (G.P. Putnam, 2001).
Secrets from Kay Scarpetta's Kitchen. We know that Kay loves to cook and this
clever cookbook with glossy color illustrations capitalizes on just that.

Roald Dahl's Revolting Recipes, illustrated by Quentin Blake (Puffin Books,
1994). Unfortunately no Lamb Recipe. Although a kid's cookbook, I had to include
this as Roald Dahl is a master storyteller.
Recipes from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach and more.

Dishes to Die For... A Compendium of Culinary Concoctions Collected from
Canadian Crime Writers (Crime Writers of Canada, 1996). Novel format with
suspect statements, backgrounds and previous record.

The Nancy Drew Cookbook: Clues to Good Cooking by Carolyn Keene (Grosset &
Dunlap, 1973). Reads like Nancy Drew. How can you become a really good cook?
"It's no mystery, " Nancy Drew reveals. "You must do what fine cooks have always
done -- add your own special touch."

Cauldron Cookery: An Authentic Guide for Coven Connoisseurs by Marcello Truzzi,
illustrated by Victoria Chess (Meredith Press, 1969). Must be initiated into a
coven in order to procure ingredients such as eye of newt.

Murder on the Menu: Food and Drink in the English Mystery Novel by Jeanine
Larmoth, with recipes by Charlotte Turgeon (Scribner's, 1972). This is a true
classic and one to snap up when you find it at a garage sale, used bookstore or
online. Includes a wonderful analysis of the genre, citing authors such as
Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie and more, with 160 recipes ranging from
potted shrimp to gooseberry fool.

Desserticide, aka Desserts Worth Dying For, edited by Claire Carmichael,
Paulette Mouchet and Mary Jerrill (Sisters in Crime, Los Angeles Chapter, 1995).
Who doesn't like a dessert cookbook? And Sisters in Crime Los Angeles put
together a mouthwatering collection of recipes from Swift Dispatch Cake to Layer
Me in the Grave Cookies to In for the Kill Tiramisu. Unfortunately individual
recipes are not attributed. Fun, interwoven writings about oleander and other
deadly ways to die.

The Lucretia Borgia Cookbook: Favorite Recipes of Infamous People by Dorothy and
Martin Blinder (Price/Sloan/Stern, 1971). A small volume originally priced at
$1.95. Nothing particularly new to shed on Lucretia Borgia but it found its way
into my collection based on title.

A Taste of Murder: Diabolically Delicious Recipes from Contemporary Mystery
Writers by Jo Grossman and Robert Weibezahl (Dell, 1999) including Lillian
Jackson Braun, Harlan Coben, Sue Grafton, Tony Hillerman and dozens more. Great
recipes and mystery writer anecdotes. This is a great cookbook for any and every
mystery reader. Just about every contemporary mystery writer at the time it was
published contributed to this cookbook and its successor, A Second Helping of
Murder: More Diabolically Delicious Recipes from Contemporary Mystery Writers. I
have a ‘Flourless Chocolate Cake to Die For” recipe in this 2nd volume.

Madame Maigret's Recipes presented by Robert J. Courtine with a Letter-Preface
by Georges Simenon (Harcourt Brace Jovanich, 1974). As we all know, Madame
Maigret is an excellent cook and Simenon's Inspector Maigret has enjoyed her
cooking for many years. This is a classical French cookbook. Delicious.

Sherlock Holmes Cookbook by Sean Wright and John Farrell (Bramell House, 1976).
One of several Sherlock Holmes cookbooks with typical English fare.

Cooking with the Bad Guys: Recipes from the World's Most Notorious Kitchens by
Don Abel (Overlook Press, 1995). Where else would you find recipes fit for Al
Capone, Marie Antoinette, Jack the Ripper and Rasputin?

Plots & Pans: Recipes and Antidotes from The Mystery Writers of America, edited
by Nancy & Jean Francis Webb, illustrated by Gahan Wilson, introduction by Isaac
Asimov (Wynwood Press: Mystery Writers of America, 1989). One of my all-time
favorites with terrific illustrations by Gahan Wilson. Subtitled: Hundreds of
Delicious recipes from the Most Imaginative Writers in America -- Spiced with
their Wit, Leavened with their Malice, and Served with their Own Distinctive
Style. Oh yes!

Où Est Le Garlic: French Cooking in 50 Lessons by Len Deighton (Harper & Row,
1965). Len Deighton, like Nicholas Freeling, was a chef and this book shows it.
Wonderful "cookstrips" (hand-drawn illustrations) bring the recipes to life.

Writers' Favorite Recipes compiled by Gillian Vincent and the National Book
League of Great Britain (St. Martin's: 1979). Recipes by Len Deighton, Edward
Gorey, Graham Greene and others. Breezy anecdotes as well as recipes.

The Gun Club Cookbook by Charles Browne (Scribner's, 1930). Not a mystery
cookbook, really, but wonderful illustrations and a great period piece.

The Sopranos Family Cookbook as compiled by Artie Bucco by Allen Rucker (Warner
Books, 2002). Yes, “family” recipes..

Brunetti’s Cookbook: Recipes by Roberta Pianaro with Culinary Stories by Donna
Leon (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2010), with anecdotes, recipes and beautifully
drawn illustrations! There are also excerpts from the novels and original essays
by Donna Leon on food and life in Venice, the perfect addition to this wonderful
cookbook. I reviewed this cookbook on both and Mystery

Recipe for Murder: Frightfully Good Food Inspired by Fiction by Esterelle
Pavany, Illustrations by Jean-Francois Martin. One of my most recent
acquisitions, and a must for Mystery Cookbook Collectors. I still need to review
this cookbook. Hannibal’s Express Sweetbreads should give you an idea about the
type of recipes! Illustrations are marvelous.

Reading these cookbooks can be as intriguing as reading a mystery.


Anonymous said...

I've loved Mystery Readers Journal for quite some time. It's lovely to read through a new issue.

How nice to have such a list of mystery cookbooks. And I must tell my husband about the 15,000 books. He thinks my 1,500 or so are just way too many! LOL

Enjoyed this post, Janet. Kaye, thanks for sharing Janet with us!

Janet Rudolph said...

My pleasure.
I have way too many books. Should invite Judy B out to sort through :-), but I'll never part with my Mystery Cookbooks!

Judy Bobalik said...

Judy B will gladly come and organize. I have a few of these cookbooks. My cookbook collection is over 700 volumes. I really like the one from churches or community groups.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Mornin' Ladies!


ooooh - Janet, I've been looking through your list of cookbooks and there a couple there I'm coveting!

Off to the on-line used bookstores . . .

Pattie @ Olla-Podrida said...

How do you keep your girlish figure loving chocolate the way that you do?

I collect literary cookbooks as well as mystery ones. Thanks for this list. I see a couple I need to add to my collection and, as you well know, the search is half the fun!

Janet Rudolph said...

Girlish figure? More like middle-age spread! Reading about food is so much more slimming than eating it :-)

Judy, I also collect leaflets and other types of cookbooks from churches and communities. Have several WWII ones that I recently acquired from a friend who was cleaning out her mother's garage.

Judy Bobalik said...

I have two from the wives of the astronauts at Cape Canaveral. Filled with wonderful stories of the beginnings of the space program. Having to entertain Sec of (Defense, Navy, Air Force)at that time the area was not settled. Needing to drive a couple of hours to grocery store for limited supplies. Very Mad Men in space.

Janet Rudolph said...

Cool, Judy. I don't have those, but I'll be looking for them.

I have more cookbooks like The Wind in the Willows Cookbook, California Artists Cookbook, Jazz Cookbook (2 copies), Gone with the Wind Cookbook, Friends Cookbook, the Beverly Hills Cookbook (lots of TV tie-ins)

Meredith Cole said...

Only you could combine chocolate and murder and make it sound so delicious, Janet! Looking forward to seeing you at Malice and cheering wildly for you when you receive your award.

Mary Jane Maffini said...

Janet,what a wonderful life you lead, combining all things mysterious and chocolate (plus other food)! I love the cookbook list.

Thanks for mentioning the really delightful Murder on the Menu: Food and Drink in the English Mystery Novel. I would snatch that up in a second if I found it again. Back in the 1970's I was well ahead of the curve when I discovered the recipe for Crème Brulée in the library copy.

Lesa said...

I think I put on 5 pounds just reading this blog. And, 15,000 books, Janet! You have as many as some small libraries.

It's always fun to read about any of your hobbies - mysteries, chocolate, collecting, cookbooks. And, I can't wait to finally meet you in March.

Just can't beat putting 2 of my favorite people together, you and Kaye.

Vicki Lane said...

What a great collection! Thanks for sharing with us.

Vicki Lane said...

What a great collection! Thanks for sharing with us.

Vicki Lane said...

What a great collection! Thanks for sharing with us.

Mason Canyon said...

WOW, I never realized there were so many cookbooks with a mystery theme. Janet, I can certainly understand your passion for collecting them. After reading your list, I want to start collecting them.

Kaye, thanks for hosting Janet and I hope your first day of retirement is going well.

Thoughts in Progress

Bobbi Mumm said...

Janet, what a wonderful collection. The "Recipe for Murder" cookbook is the one I want! I love reading really old recipes.
Kaye, does retirement feel good?