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
    Sep 2016, 432 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rory L. Aronsky
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Isn't life funny? You know, how one thing leads to another in a way you just don't expect.

That Sunday morning, I was in my kitchen stirring my apricot jam in the cast-iron pot. It was another dry summer's day in the Klein Karoo, and I was glad for the breeze coming in the window.

"You smell lovely," I told the appelkooskonfyt.

When I call it apricot "jam" it sounds like something in a jar from the Spar supermarket, but when it's konfyt, you know it's made in a kitchen. My mother was Afrikaans and my father was English and the languages are mixed up inside me. I taste in Afrikaans and argue in English, but if I swear I go back to Afrikaans again.

The appelkooskonfyt was just coming right, getting thick and clear, when I heard the car. I added some apricot kernels and a stick of cinnamon to the jam; I did not know that the car was bringing the first ingredient in a recipe for love and murder. But maybe life is like a river that can't be stopped, always winding toward or away from death and love. Back and forth. Still, even though life moves like that river, lots of people go their whole lives without swimming. I thought I was one of those people.

The Karoo is one of the quietest places in South Africa, so you can hear an engine a long way off. I turned off the gas flame and put the lid on the pot. I still had time to wash my hands, take off my blue apron, check my hair in the mirror, and put on the kettle.

Then I heard a screech of brakes and a bump and I guessed it was Hattie. She's a terrible driver. I peeked out and saw her white Toyota Etios snuggled up to a eucalyptus tree in my driveway. I was glad to see she had missed my old Nissan bakkie. I took out the melktert from the fridge. Harriet Christie is my friend and the editor of the Klein Karoo Gazette where I write my recipe page. I am not a journalist; I am just a tannie who likes to cook a lot and write a little. My father was a journalist and my ma a great cook. They did not have a lot in common, so in a funny way I like to think I bring them together with my recipe page.

Hattie was in her fancy church clothes, a pinkish skirt and jacket. Her high heels wobbled a bit on the peach pits in my walkway, but when she stayed on the paving stones she was okay. I still feel a bit ashamed when I see people coming straight from church, because I haven't been since my husband, Fanie, died. All those years sitting nice and pretty next to him on those wooden pews and listening to the preacher going on and on, and then driving home and Fanie still dondering me, kind of put me off church. Being beaten like that put me off believing in anything much. God, faith, love went out the window in my years with Fanie.

I've left the windows open since then, but they haven't come back in.

So there was Hattie, at my door. She didn't have to knock because it's always open. I love the fresh air, the smell of the veld with its wild bushes and dry earth, and the little sounds my chickens make when they scratch in the compost heap.

"Come in, come in, my skat," I said to her.

A lot of the Afrikaans ladies stopped being my friends when I left the Dutch Reformed Church, but Hattie is English and goes to St. Luke's. There are more than forty churches in Ladismith. At St. Luke's, coloureds and whites sit side by side quite happily. Hattie and I are both fifty-something but otherwise we are different in many ways. Hattie is long and thin with a neat blond hairstyle and a pish-posh English way about her. I'm short and soft (a bit too soft in the wrong places) with short brown curls and untidy Afrikaans. She has eyes that are blue like a swimming pool, and mine are pond green. Her favorite shoes are polished, with heels, but I prefer my veldskoene. Hattie doesn't bother much with food (though she does like my milk tart), while for me cooking and eating are two of the best reasons to be alive. My mother gave me a love of cooking, but it was only when I discovered what bad company my husband was that I realized what good company food can be. Some might think food is too important to me, but let them think that. Without food, I would be very lonely. In fact, without food, I would be dead. Hattie is good company too, and we are always happy to see each other. You know how it is—some people you can just be yourself with.

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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