This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of author Mary Kay Andrews and publisher St. Martin’s Press. I received a complimentary book for the purpose of review, but all opinions are honest and they are my own. No additional compensation for this post was provided; this page may contain affiliate links.
This week I am thrilled to be taking part in a virtual book release party for The Newcomer by Mary Kay Andrews* hosted by The Book Club Cookbook. I received an advance copy to enjoy and be inspired into the kitchen to create a dish.
I had no experience with the author and, so, didn’t know what to expect from The Newcomer. Turns out this book is a quirky murder mystery and romance all rolled into a beach read set in a seaside motel in Florida. Yes, it’s a lot to take in…and it clocks in at just under four hundred and fifty pages. But it’s a surprisingly quick read.
We meet Letty Carnahan who is on the run with her four-year-old niece in tow. They land at The Murmuring Surf Motel where owner Ava takes the duo under her wing. She gives them a place to stay and a job at her seasonal haven for a motley crew of snowbirds. The Surf wasn’t an accidental destination; Letty purposefully traveled there because of a tattered magazine ad and a ridiculous amount of cash in her sister’s ‘go bag.’ She just doesn’t know the connection between the money, the motel, and her sister’s murder.
Here’s a passage about the setting of the book. “There was a row of lounge chairs facing the water, and just beyond were the sparkling turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Vicki Hill gasped. She’d been to the beach, lots of times, mostly the Jersey Shore back home. But this was different. She left her shoes on the grass and walked out onto the sugary white sand, letting her toes sink in. The water was like a magnet. She drew closer, stopping to study the waves lapping at the shore. Huh. She ventured closer, bracing herself for the shock of cold, but the water was surprisingly warm. She wiggled her toes, and something beneath them wiggled back. She stooped down to see that there were millions of tiny multicolored clamlike seashells strewn along the waterline. She smiled despite herself” (pg. 198).
As the story unfolds we learn that Letty discovered her sister in an upscale New York apartment not long after Tanya makes Letty promise that if anything happened to her, Letty would take Maya and hide. Letty has no doubts that Maya’s father, Evan, is responsible for her sister’s death. As Letty unravels the story behind the money, so do we!
Add to this Ava’s son, policeman and part-time motel handyman, Joe; a visiting FBI agent from New York; and a laundry list of hilarious, eccentric characters living at The Surf. Now you have yourself an entertaining read. It’s not your typical beach read because there are some dark moments. But it unfolds to be entertaining and heart-warming.
On the Plate
There was quite a bit of food mentioned in this novel though it did usually involve motel buffets or juice boxes!
There was a dinner at a local Italian restaurant when Joe dines with Vicki that was more to my palate. He asks about the evening’s special. “‘Baked snapper. Just came off the boat this afternoon. Sautéed zucchini and tomatoes, and gnocchi? Sound good?’ ‘Perfect. And a glass of the Barolo I like in the meantime, okay?'” (pg. 245).
But the passage that really got my culinary wheels spinning was the solo lunch that Letty enjoys on her way to get new chaise lounges for motel’s pool area. “Letty sat under an umbrella on the patio of a French bistro just up the beach road from the Murmuring Surf, and after her lunch arrive – steamed stone crabs with a tangy mustard sauce and crisp green salad – she sat very still for a moment, feeling alternate waves of guilt and giddiness” (pg. 190).
And it just so happened that our CSF (community-supported fishery) had a flash sale that included rock crabs.
Now I know that rock crabs and stone crabs are not exactly the same, but I figured it could work…and these are local to me. Best yet: the rock crabs were already cooked. All I needed to do was make a mustard sauce.
Ingredients makes approximately 1-1/2 cups sauce
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup whole fat Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup prepared horseradish
- 1/4 cup mustard (I used a Dijon mustard)
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce, to taste
In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients until well combined. To serve, spoon the sauce into a small serving bowl and serve with the crab claws on ice.
*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn’t cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.
I have also added this to #FoodieReads.