Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Death al Dente by Leslie Budewitz

The first winners of the THROUGH THE EVIL DAYS ARC contest are Cara Black and Lisa Alber. Please email julia (at) julia spencer fleming (dot) com (removing all spaces.)

 LUCY BURDETTE: You all probably know today's guest, because she's already a big presence in the mystery community. But now we are so happy to welcome her to JRW to celebrate her first novel, Death al Dente! Hooray Leslie Budewitz!

Leslie Budewitz: It was August a year ago. “The book”—my first mystery—was due to my editor. I was deep into revising and polishing. Mr. Right and I were headed across the mountains to celebrate my mother Alice’s birthday and I wanted to take her a gift.

“I’ll just pop into the Merc and see what they have,” I thought.
Trouble was, “the Merc”—aka The Glacier Mercantile, purveyors of made-in-Montana foods and locally grown meat, cheese, and produce—exists only in my mind.

And now, at long last, on the pages of Death al Dente, first in my new Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries. 

For years, I’ve been writing about the relationship between fact and fiction, helping writers get the facts about the law and straight in their novels, short stories, and screenplays. After nearly thirty years practicing law, I love that. As a trial lawyer, focusing mainly on civil litigation—although I’ve done my share of criminal work—I’ve learned a lot of details. Some pertinent; some, well, impertinent. I often joke that what I’ve learned is how to learn. Another case, another business: radio stations, restaurants, bars, trucking companies, cattle ranchers, mobile home manufacturers, parks, transport companies, day care operators, semi-conductor manufacturers, nutritional supplement companies, insurance companies, and on and on. 

And the individuals—oh, my, oh my. Suffice to say real life has given me an ample supply of characters. 

All of it comes into play in fiction. Writers are truly amazing. The situations they create cover the waterfront, coast to coast. Any trouble humans can conjure probably happened first in a writer’s imagination. But they don’t always know the law. The law is complex, and constantly changing. It varies tremendously from state to state, and even case to case. Helping writers navigate the legal system and figure out how to both portray it accurately and use it to move their stories forward has been tremendously gratifying. 

And of course, it was great fun when the lovely people of Malice Domestic gave me this nifty tea pot. 

But on that day a year ago, I realized I’d crossed a line. And there was no going back. I still practice law part-time, but in my heart, I’m a mystery writer. I live in Jewel Bay, Montana, known as the Food Lovers' Village. It’s a town—much like my own—obsessed with homegrown and homemade Montana fare. So when Erin Murphy takes over her family's century-old general store, she turns it into a boutique market filled with local delicacies. But Erin's freshly booming business might turn rotten when a former employee turns up dead. 

I am a better, happier person when I spend most of my time with people—like Erin and her family and friends—who only exist because I made them up.

But I am blessed with wonderful friends and family who have urged me on all these years, whether I was writing fact or fiction. And at the head of the line are Mr. Right and my mother. You can wish him happy birthday in a couple of weeks. Right now, it’s her turn. 

Happy birthday, Alice.

Hank calls Death al Dente “Clever, charming and completely yummy.” A personalized copy will go to one lucky reader who leaves a comment. 

And a bonus: The mother of another mystery writer—not a Red—wore the same wedding dress as Alice. Name the author, and win a personalized copy of her latest book. Hint: SCLAMN. Pour a cup of tea and ponder it...  (And no, Mom, you’re not eligible to win.)
Death al Dente, first in the Food Lovers' Village Mysteries, debuts from Berkley Prime Crime on August 6. The town of Jewel Bay, Montana—known as the Food Lovers’ Village—is obsessed with homegrown and homemade Montana fare. So when Erin Murphy takes over her family’s century-old general store, she turns it into a boutique market filled with local delicacies. But Erin’s freshly booming business might turn rotten when a former employee turns up dead… 

Leslie is also a lawyer. Her first book, Books, Crooks & Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law & Courtroom Procedure (Quill Driver Books) won the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction. She lives in northwest Montana, near Glacier National Park, with her husband and their cat. Visit her online at or on Facebook.

Celebrating Red Julia Spencer-Fleming's upcoming THROUGH THE EVIL DAY's Reds are giving away an ARC to a lucky loyal Red commenter each day this week!


  1. Congratulations, Leslie! Your book sounds . . . well, yummy. I’m looking forward to reading it . . . .

  2. Leslie - Congrats on making your dreams come true. Best success on your debut mystery.

    ~ Jim

  3. Sounds intriguing - count me in!

  4. Welcome to Jungle Red, Leslie! I had a million legal questions when I was writing THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN. (How to scam an elderly woman out of her house... I wanted to call the book "Remainderman" but no one would have had a clue what i was talking about until they'd finished reading.)

    Also I'm a major league foodie. Looking forward to Death Al Dente. Love your comment: pertinent and impertinent. I may "borrow" (with credit).

  5. I also love my made-up friends and family, but it's great to have a (virtual) friend like you!

    Best of luck with Death al Dente, Leslie, and all future books.

  6. Bev Fontaine--you are the winner of a signed copy of Heirs and Graces from yesterdays comments. Please contact me at to give me your mailing address.

  7. YAY Leslie! So exciting! And what a terrific book..

    Oh, mixing fact and fiction? It's so hilarious to me..half the timeI can't discern what's real and what's fiction...especially since I live in the same city where the books tale place. Oh--I'l think--here's when're Jane was chased by the bad guy! And then I realize--nope. I made that up.

  8. Leslie, huge congrats! I'm so happy for you! I can't wait to read Death al Dente.

    I also confuse reality with my alternate reality, with alarming regularity.

    Wishing you much success!

  9. Leslie, I am so looking forward to reading Death al Dente! I'm planning to grab it when I visit B&N on the weekend.

  10. I was lucky enough to be able to read an advance copy of Death al Dente. It's terrific.

    Lots of luck, Leslie.

  11. Congratulations, Leslie.

    Can't wait!

  12. What fun to be here! Thanks for the warm welcome!

    Just realized I completely failed to mention the happy guy in the wedding photograph with my gorgeous mother -- my father! He's been gone 33 years tomorrow, but I know he'd be very proud of The Book!

    Hallie, yes, borrow away!

    No guesses on the other mystery writer whose mother also wore that dress?! Look closely at that hint and the suggestion ....

  13. Leslie, congratulations! What fun you're having this week! We met at Bouchercon by the Bay, and you were so welcoming. I remember you spoke about BOOKS AND CROOKS (not pubbed yet), and now look where you are!

    Hope to see you at Bouchercon this year--and all the Reds! Looking forward to reading DEATH AL DENTE!

  14. Thanks, Lisa! And now YOU have a mystery on the way, too!

    Alas, the Rocky Mtn Fiction Writers Conference in Denver is the same weekend as Bouchercon. I'll be giving a workshop on 10 common mistakes writers make about the law in fiction, so if any Reds followers are at RMFW, find me and say hello!

  15. Congratulations on the release of your book!

  16. Congrats, Leslie. Like Hallie, I love your "impertinent" comment. Wishing you great success.

  17. Barbara Ross' book about Maine Clam Bakes is coming out next month ... that is all I can come up with...

    Looks great! Congrats!

  18. Leslie, I'm so excited for you to have this book out! And excited for me that I get to read it now :)

  19. I moved to a small town in NW Montana about five years ago from Kansas. Just called the local library and they are ordering your book. I am a member of the Friends group and we like to showcase local Montana authors. Can't wait to read it.

  20. I already feel as though I've visited the site of your series. It sure sounds like a place I WOULD visit if it existed! I can't wait to read it, Leslie! Next week I'm doing a staycation, and hope to make a dent in my TBR list. Looks like I'll be making a trip to the bookstore so I can add to the list!

    My very wild guess as to the author whose mother's wedding dress was the same as your mom's: Laura Childs?

  21. Vicki, what town and what library? I know it will be in the Flathead Co. Library System shortly, and in the Whitefish Community Library and Glacier Co. Library. Am I getting close?! I'm in Bigfork, so if you've got a library or other book club, I'd be delighted to visit!

  22. We have a winner! Deb Romano correctly guessed that Laura Childs' mother and mine wore the same wedding dress! Laura and I are first cousins -- her mother was my father's just-older sister. You win a personalized copy of Death al Dente and of Laura's latest -- is it Sweet Tea Revenge? Send me your mailing address at leslie at lesliebudewitz dot com

    How did you figure it out?

  23. Congrats, your book sounds great!

  24. Laura Childs! Never would have gotten that...Can you explain the "SCLAMN"?

    Have fun at Rocky Mtn! Hope to see you at another conference...LCC anyone?

  25. Leslie: Having been recently dragged kicking and screaming into the world of cozies, and wonderfully entertained by Jungle Reds Lucy, Rosemary, and Hallie, I can honestly say yours sounds intriguing. May the Book Gods smile!

    I love DEATH AL DENTE's acronym is DAD.

  26. The hint explained: "SCLAMN. Pour a cup of tea ..."
    Laura writes three series, set in Charleston, SC, New Orleans, LA, and a small town in MN (Minnesota). The series that got her started is set in a tea shop.

    And Jack! DAD -- perfect!

  27. That's a great picture of you and your teapot! I will look for your book to read soon. It will be nice to read about a new but imaginary town I can move to.

  28. Sounds delicious and tempting I'd love to read it.

  29. “I’ll just pop into the Merc and see what they have...”— my new battle cry!

    Leslie you're great. xoxo

  30. I am in Ronan, and we just recently became the Ronan Library District (previously a city library). And the Friends actually sponsor Montana Author's Nights each May and then three months in the Fall. We have authors booked this year, but would like to talk to you about next year if you are interested. We would love to have you come down .

  31. Leslie, as I promised in my email to you earlier today, this is how my brain worked on trying to guess the name of the other mystery author:
    (Feel free to laugh!)
    --the clue about pouring a cup of tea made me think about the Tea Shop mysteries; the L and the C brought the name Laura Childs to mind; the S and the M made me think Scrapbooking Mysteries; but then I was totally lost as to what the A and the N stood for! I was also thinking the S and the C might possibly do double duty as South Carolina. Maybe the A was for Alice, whose gown had some connection to both authors? And possibly, maybe, the N had something to do with New Orleans...but why wasn't there an O? I decided to just GO for it and see how wrong or right I might be!

    I am looking forward to receiving the books, and I thank you again, Leslie. Since you first started talking about your series here and on your website I have gotten an image in my mind of your fictional town. When I read the book, I'll have the opportunity to see how close MY imaginary image is to yours!

    Part of my capcha is OneFed...appropriate, since your book is a food mystery!

  32. Deb, I did not get your email. Please resend to leslie @ drbeans dot com

  33. Vicki in Ronan, YES! So glad you have a new library district! Apparently my new email address is failing, so please write me at leslie at drbeans dot com

  34. Marianne in MaineAugust 7, 2013 at 7:40 PM

    Hi, Leslie. Congratulations on the book release. It sounds delicious and I have added it to by TBR list.

    Here's to your great success!

  35. Leslie, Hi!!! Boy, I'm sure late to this party, aren't I?! Congratulations on the new book release, it DOES sound yummy and I can't wait to read it. Happy Birthday to your lovely mother and Happy Upcoming Birthday to Mr. Right!

  36. This sounds like such a fun book, and set in such a beautiful place!

  37. Leslie,

    I sent an email to your other address. Just in case the problem was at my end, I used a different email account this time.

    Best of luck with Death al Dente - and may your characters live forever (except the ones you kill off:-)

  38. Thank you all -- Reds and friends -- for a lovely day! I am passing on the birthday wishes to my mother, who isn't sure whether to be happy or embarrassed that I shared that photo!

    Cousin Laura and I thank you for your support and your love of the cozy mystery!


  39. Perfect!! I'm headed out to Montana in a couple of weeks. This would be a great book to read now. Such great timing.

  40. Wonderful, Leslie! So glad I found this interview with you...I almost cut and pasted your comment about being happiest when you spend time with people you made up, but thought my non-writer friends might not get that! Glad to hear that your hometown in Montana is the Food Lovers' Village - it means your series will give us all a peek and insight into both Montana and that particular spot that we can actually visit one day!
    Congrats, again, on your new series!

  41. Yeah, mystery comes in handy. :)