Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Fatal Funnel Cake -- Livia J. Washburn

When I was a kid, the State Fair of Texas was a big event for me in the fall of the year.  I loved the midway and the penny arcade, and in fact I still have a couple of items from the penny arcade.  I haven't been the the Fair in many years, and I doubt that the penny arcade is still there, but it was a great place.  Trust me.  

One year my father even took the family to see Sally Rand's show, and I got to see her do her famous fan dance.  It was undoubtedly cleaned up a bit for the family trade, but at least I can say I witnessed it.  I can still remember the barker's call: "It's a little naughty, but it's all right!"

Later on, the high school band went to the fair each year and played on the stage located at the feet of Big Tex.  Some famous performers appeared on that stage, and the one I remember best is Hank Thompson, who played and sang "Squaws Along the Yukon" with his Brazos Valley Boys.  It was great to wander the midway, and if I was lucky, I could even persuade a girl to walk along with me.

So what does all this nostalgia have to do with The Fatal Funnel Cake?  Well, the book's setting is the State Fair of Texas.  I've enjoyed all the books in this series, so the fact that this one is set at the Fair was just the icing on the cake.  So to speak.

Phyllis Newsom along with Sam, Eve, and Carolyn, her friends from Phyllis' boarding house, go to the Fair for a couple of reasons: to enter some cooking contests (even Sam) and to sit in the audience of celebrity chef Joye Jameson's cooking show.  When Phyllis wins the blue ribbon for funnel cake, she's invited on the show, and [SPOILER ALERT] one bite of the funnel cake and Joye Jameson's a goner.

There are suspects galore, and of course Phyllis gets involved in solving the murder (as she always does) even though she's warned off by the big city cops.

Gratuitous Paris Hilton moment:  Eve says, "Some people are famous just for being famous.  Like that girl whose family owns all the hotels."  I say, "Will the persecution never end?"

But I have to admit that I agree with this comment by Sam: "You know, Funnel Cake Nostradamus would be a good name for a rock band."

Earlier this year I did a post on one of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe novels in which a guest on a radio show is murdered during a live broadcast, so it was doubly fun to read this story and see how things have changed yet remain the same.  Washburn gives a lot of interesting behind-the-scenes stuff about TV shows, just as Stout did with radio shows.

There are also a good many recipes, and you know you'll want to try Sam's Texas-Style Spam Sushi.  Check it out.


Gerard said...

I ordered this for work after seeing a previous one, PEACH OF A MURDER, did very well here.

Unknown said...

It's a fun series.

James Reasoner said...

I got to try out the Texas-Style Spam sushi. It's really good.

Livia J Washburn said...

Bill, thank you for the wonderful review. It's funny that you mentioned Sally Rand. I had a pony named Sally Rand. My mother told me a story about her father going to see Sally and that he named one of their horses or mules Sally Rand. I liked the name and ironically the fact the pony was named after a stripper. What can I say, I was a weird kid.

Unknown said...

Bur fortunately not a weird adult, right?

Unknown said...

James, I'm going to have to take your word for the excellence of the Spam sushi.

Livia J Washburn said...

Bill, unfortunately I think I became even weirder with age.