Cats, Cozies…and Tuna Melts!
Most of the mysteries on my bookshelf, I confess, are cozy mysteries, so I suppose it would naturally follow that my first traditionally published novel would be – a cozy. What’s more, a cozy featuring a stubborn, opinionated tuxedo cat!
My series is the Nick and Nora mystery series. Nora is Nora Charles, ex-crime reporter turned restaurant entrepreneur. She’s returned after a 12 year absence from reporting on crime in Chicago back to her hometown of Cruz, California, to take over her deceased mother’s sandwich shop. Shortly thereafter, Nora finds a surprise waiting outside her door – a stocky, black and white cat. She takes the cat in and names him Nick (after Nick Charles, the Thin Man, of course). She later finds out that the cat did in fact belong to a PI, Nick Atkins, who is currently MIA – she also finds out that Nick has many talents, among them the ability to spell out words with Scrabble tiles – plus, he’s got a nose for scenting out crime and Nora’s special of the day!
And while Nora can’t turn down a good mystery, she’s also a very adept cook – and she loves coming up with unique names for the sandwiches she serves! People do enjoy her Michael Buble Burger, and her Antonio Banderas Cuban!
But really…What story about a cat would be complete without tuna? Below is Nora’s recipe for her Thin Man Tuna Melt – it’s a big hit with the residents of Cruz!
1 (6 1/2 oz.) can of tuna, drained
1/2 c. finely chopped celery
1/3 c. mayonnaise, regular or low-fat
2 tbsp. diced onion
2 tbsp. crumbled bacon bits
1/2 tsp. garlic salt or powder
4 slices cheese, Swiss or cheddar
4 thin-cut tomato slices
8 slices of your favorite bread
butter or margarine
Combine tuna, celery, mayonnaise, onion, and garlic salt and blend. Butter one side of bread, place in toaster oven. Cover with tuna mixture and spread out, then top with cheese slice. Sprinkle liberally with bacon bits. Place under broiler for one minute, then put tomato slices on top. Butter one side of remaining bread and place on top of cheese, buttered side up. Grill until golden brown on both sides, or cheese is melted. Remove, cut and serve. Serves two humans and one tubby tuxedo cat.
About the Author…..
While Toni Lotempio does not commit – or solve – murders in real life, she has no trouble doing it on paper. Her lifelong love of mysteries began early on when she was introduced to her first Nancy Drew mystery at age 10 – The Secret in the Old Attic. She lists among her favorite mystery/suspense writers Erle Stanley Gardner, Mary Higgins Clark and James Patterson, as well as EJ Copperman, Steve Hockensmith, Victoria Laurie, Ali Brandon, Rita Mae Brown, Miranda James and Sofie Kelly to name only a few! Toni is also passionate about her love for animals, as demonstrated with her four cats: Trixie, Princess, Maxx and, of course, ROCCO, who not only provided the inspiration for the character of Nick the cat in the Nick and Nora mystery series, but who also writes his own blog and does charity work for Nathan Fillion’s charity, Kids Need to Read! Toni’s also devoted to miniseries like The Thorn Birds, Dancing with the Stars, reruns of Murder She Wrote and Castle (of course!). She (and ROCCO, albeit he’s uncredited) pen the Nick and Nora mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime – the first volume, MEOW IF ITS MURDER, debuts Dec. 2, 2014. She, Rocco and company make their home in Clifton, New Jersey, just twenty minutes from the Big Apple – New York.