by G.P. Gottlieb
Charred, the third book in G. P. Gottlieb’s Whipped and Sipped mystery series, puts the reader deep in the mind and heart of Chicago café owner Alene Baron at a time when Covid seems to have shut down everything except arson, murder, and chicanery.
A construction site is torched, an unburned body found in the debris. Amidst pandemic-imposed precautions, protest marches, and opportunistic looting, it’s all too much. A dead body at a fire scene shouldn’t have anything to do with Alene’s café, but—as things turn out—it does.
Baron is hardly an eager sleuth. She just wants to protect her family, her friends, her business—and her love commitment to divorced police detective Frank Shaw. The rhythm of these concerns as they overlap and clash in Alene’s brain forms a distinct heartbeat for this engaging story. Everything is further complicated by the skeleton in Alene’s closet—an estranged uncle who wants absolution for his role in a long-ago bank robbery.
Juggling characters, relationships, and conflicts in a way that flows swiftly to a compelling conclusion is Gottlieb’s special strength as a mystery writer. This is the third literary outing for Alene and her coterie, and the author strikes a confident pace with a narrative which, though complex, always moves forward.
Readers of the first two books, Battered and Smothered, will certainly enjoy Charred. And so will anyone else who enjoys mysteries whipped, sipped, and basted with the juice of uptown intrigue.
INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR
Few authors I have met since entering the literary world can match Galit Gottlieb for hard work, organization, and brains. It was Galit who introduced me to my book publisher, DX Varos Publishing. And when the book was published, she helped me spread the word by interviewing me on her New Books Network podcast, New Books in Literature. Besides organizing and conducting this weekly half-hour author interview show, she has found time so far to write and publish three engaging murder mysteries, the Whipped and Sipped series from DX Varos.
These are great books, and if you like a mystery, they’ll be right up your alley.
A few days ago, on your behalf, I asked Galit these questions:
ME: What made you become a novelist, and more specifically, a mystery writer?
G.P. GOTTLIEB: In 2014-15, I made it through an epic cancer battle by dreaming of the novel I was going to write if I made it out on the other side. I’d written stories, poems, and songs, but because I loved reading mysteries, I wanted to write one. I read a lot of classics, and especially enjoyed Rex Stout’s descriptions of the gourmet food his protagonist enjoyed. In my book, I thought, I’ll also include recipes, and the food will be what I like best-vegetarian, healthy, clean. So, I sat down and started writing a story about a café owner in Chicago, very close to where I live. I worked with a fabulous teacher, spent three years perfecting that first novel, and won a publishing contract in a rare stroke of good luck!
ME: How much of your protagonist, Alene Baron, is G.P. Gottlieb? How do the two of you differ?
G.P. GOTTLIEB: Alene is nothing at all like me; she’s from a different generation, a different neighborhood, and had different dreams. Also, I have no business ability and can’t imagine running a café, dealing with employees, or facing endless dilemmas. I do love eating and drinking in cafes though, and I enjoy being around people, so maybe there’s just a little bit of me in her.
ME: What is next on your horizon as a writer?
G.P. GOTTLIEB: I’ve started another novel in the Whipped and Sipped series (it might be called POUNDED), I’m writing lots of essays to submit to journals and as guest posts, and I’ve been working on and off on a novel in short stories for several years. I enjoy most of the process except for the marketing, which I wish wasn’t as necessary as it is. My plan for this launch is to write so much that every day people around the world look at social media and see another essay by me – some are standard, but some might be (and have been) referred to as “odd.” As long as it entertains me to write it, I’m okay if anyone thinks it’s odd!