Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for Not Mushroom For Death. I’m sharing an extract from the book with thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on the blog and to the publisher for providing the extract.
TV Chef Luca Mazza Dies After Collapse at Food Show on the King’s Private Estate
Luca Mazza (38), who was taken ill during a food demonstration at the Fenn House Food and Wine Festival two days ago, is now known to have ingested poison. Lady Beatrice (36), the king’s niece, who is working on a refurbishment project at Fenn House with her business partner Perry Juke (34), is believed to be comforting Luca’s boss and close friend Sebastiano Marchetti (38), who she began dating last month.
Is he crazy? Why else would Detective Chief Inspector Richard Fitzwilliam suggest that Sebastiano poisoned Luca without any evidence? So now, with the help of her little dog Daisy and her best friends Perry and Simon, Lady Beatrice will have to prove to Mr Know-it-all Fitzwilliam that Seb is innocent. But with so many people having access to the food preparation area at the show how will she find out who did murder Luca before Fitzwilliam lets his personal dislike get the better of him and arrests Seb?
A rumble of excitement came from the audience seated in the stands. Looking over to the wing opposite, Lady Beatrice saw Luca Mazza pumping his arms and shaking his head from side to side as if he was a sprinter about to bend down and settle himself on the starting blocks.
“He’s an amazing chef, a fellow Italian, and I’m proud to call him my friend.” Seb swept his right arm out to the side. “Please welcome Luca Mazza.”
Luca bounded onto the stage to a roaring round of applause.
The two men hugged and patted each other on the back. Then Luca broke free, and moving to the centre of the stage, he took a deep bow.
Seb backed away from the stage and into the wings, his gaze remaining on Luca’s back the whole time. A good-looking man sporting a red bandana passed by, and Seb grabbed him by the arm and whispered into his ear.
Is he asking him to keep an eye on Luca?
Luca’s speech dragged her attention back to the stage. “Ladies and gentleman, thank you very much for your warm welcome. I have a treat in store for you this afternoon. But first let me introduce you to my good friend and sous chef for this demo, Ryan Hawley.” He extended his arm out, and the chef Seb had been talking to walked on stage to rousing applause.
“Now, he’s worth the entrance price alone,” Perry said over her shoulder.
Turning, she grinned at him. “Perry! Don’t make me tell Simon that you’re having impure thoughts about another man.”
Perry tilted his head to the side. “I can look, can’t I? And don’t think I didn’t see the way your eyes followed him across the stage. I’m not the only one looking.”
Feeling heat rush into her cheeks, she slapped him playfully on the arm. How did he notice that? She returned her gaze to the demonstration.
The two men, having turned away from the audience, walked towards a large stainless-steel unit sitting halfway along the stage. As they arrived, Luca swivelled around to face the crowd while Ryan began collecting ingredients from the bench and fridge behind them.
“So today we are going to make for you two dishes,” Luca told them. “The first is chicken breast stuffed with basil pesto and served with sautéed mushrooms, garlic, and tomatoes.” Murmurs of approval rose from the crowd. “And the second” —the audience leaned forward in their seats— “is… a secret!” They let out a sigh. The cheeky Italian chef grinned at them. “You’ll see soon… I promise. But let’s start now.”
The two men got to work — Luca putting the pesto ingredients into the blender, and Ryan throwing slithers of garlic, chopped mushrooms, and fresh tomatoes into a large frying pan and shaking it.
The rich sweet smell wafted over to the wings. Lady Beatrice inhaled deeply, her tummy rumbling in response. I hope they bring the leftovers back here. She looked across to see how Seb was doing, standing next to Simon. Both men had their arms folded as they watched the stage with hawk-like concentration.
“Is it me, or does Luca look like he’s flagging already?” Perry asked her.
She glanced back at the stage just in time to see Luca bend over and wipe his forehead with a tea towel attached to his apron tie as he picked up the frying pan. His face was the colour of the tomatoes that had been on the bench behind him a few minutes ago.
“He doesn’t look too good, does he?”
The words were barely out of her mouth before Luca staggered forward, tossing his frying pan back onto its ring, where it landed teetering on the edge. Jerking his head up, Ryan leapt towards the pan and grabbed it just as it was about to slide off. Seb and Simon appeared on the stage, running towards Luca.
But they were too late to catch him.
Luca collapsed into a heap behind the unit, his microphone picking up the thud as he hit the ground.
Not Mushroom For Death is available from Amazon.
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