Excerpt from Recipes for Love and Murder by Sally Andrew, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Recipes for Love and Murder

A Tannie Maria Mystery

by Sally Andrew

Recipes for Love and Murder by Sally Andrew X
Recipes for Love and Murder by Sally Andrew
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  • First Published:
    Nov 2015, 432 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2016, 432 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rory L. Aronsky
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"Good morning, Tannie Maria," she said.

I liked the way she sometimes called me Tannie, Auntie (even though she says it in her English way, as if it rhymes with "nanny," when in fact it rhymes with "honey"). She leaned down to kiss my cheek, but she missed and kissed the dry Karoo air instead.

"Coffee?" I said. Then I looked at the clock. The English don't like coffee after eleven o'clock. "Tea?"

"That would be super," said Hattie, clapping her hands in that Mary Poppins way of hers.

But she wasn't looking so super herself. Her frown was wrinkled, like the leaves on a gwarrie tree.

"Are you okay, skat?" I said, as I prepared the tea tray. "You look worried."

"I do love your house," she said, patting my wooden kitchen table. "All the Oregon wood and the thick mud walls. It's so . . . authentic."

When Fanie died, I sold the house we had in town and got this one out here in the veld.

"It's a nice old farmhouse," I said. "What's the matter, Hats?"

She sucked in her cheeks, like the words were falling back down her throat too fast.

"Let's sit on the stoep," I said, carrying the tray to the table and chairs outside.

From my stoep you can see the garden with its lawn and vegetables and all the different trees. And then on the other side of my low wooden fence is the long dirt road leading up to my house, and the dry veld with its bushes and old gwarrie trees. The nearest house is a few kilometers away, hidden behind a koppie, but the trees make good neighbors.

Hattie smoothed her skirt under her as she sat down. I tried to catch her eye, but her gaze jumped all over the garden, like she was watching a bird flying about. One of my rust-brown hens came out from where she was resting under a geranium bush and helped herself to the buffet on the compost heap. But this wasn't the bird Hattie was watching. Hers flew from the lemon tree to the vegetable patch, then hopped from the lizard-tail bush to the honeybells and back again. I heard birds calling all around us, but could see nothing where she was looking.

"Can you see something there in the veld plants?" I asked.

"Heavens above, it's warm," she said.

She took an envelope from her pocket and fanned her face with it.

"Let me give you some milk tart."

I cut slices and put them on our plates.

"It's just got to rain soon," she said.

Now she was following the invisible bird as if it was jumping all over the table. I pushed the plate toward her.

"It's your favorite," I said.

I could tell Hattie had more to say than the weather report. Her face was red, as if there was a hot thing in her mouth, but the corners of her lips were tight where she was holding it in. Hattie was not one to be shy to speak, so I did not try and rush her. I poured our tea and looked out at the dry veld. It had been a long time since the rain. Across the veld were those low hills of the Klein Karoo, rolling up and dipping down like waves. On and on, like a still and stony sea. I picked up my melktert and bit off a mouthful. It was very good, the vanilla, milk, and cinnamon working together to make that perfect comforting taste. The texture was just right too—the tart smooth and light, and the crust thin and crumbly.

Hattie looked into her cup, as if her imaginary bird had jumped in there. I could see a real bird in the shadows of a gwarrie tree, too far away to see what kind. I love those old trees. Some of them are thousands of years old. They are all knobbly and twisted like elbows and knees, and their leaves are dark green and wrinkled.

Hattie sat up straight and had a sip of her tea. She sighed. This is what stoeps are for. Drinking tea, and sighing, and looking out at the veld. But Hattie was still looking inside her cup.

"Delicious," I said, eating the last melktert crumbs on my plate.

Excerpted from Recipes for Love and Murder by Sally Andrew. Copyright © 2015 by Sally Andrew. Excerpted by permission of Ecco. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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