Perfect Pairings: Cozy Mysteries and Ice Cream Flavors by Abby Collette

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[Note from Frolic: We’re so excited to welcome author Abby Colette to the site today. She’s pairing some delicious ice cream with irresistible books. Take it away, Abby!]

Ice cream and books are like good friends. Universally loved by most, both are there for you whenever you need comforting. Enjoyable. Savoring the time spent in the company of either. Both can evoke feelings of home, satisfaction, solace. Both have pulled us through tough times, calming our distractions, whisking us away from the doldrums and stress of everyday life, helping us to escape—page by page, spoonful by spoonful. With books and ice cream there is such a boundless variety that there’s sure to be a flavor that someone will like.

I love both and so it was easy to come up with a book about ice cream.

In my new cozy mystery, A Game of Cones, the second book in the An Ice Cream Parlor Mystery series, one of the main “characters” is the cool, creamy frozen treat that we so often crave. (Yes, the ice cream takes on a life of its own!) In it, Bronwyn “Win” Crewse, my protagonist, crafts her creations in every color of the spectrum and she only uses all-natural, mostly locally sourced ingredients. Her recipe repertoire chocked full of an endless array of flavors from espresso-infused mocha, Halloween inspired ghoulish berry made with fresh and bright plump blueberries, to sweet cherry chocolate chunk amaretto ice cream. And being inclusive, she’ll offer vegan, nut, gluten and sugar-free varieties of her handiwork.

Win makes her handcrafted ice cream with the love and care she learned from her grandparents who opened the shop in the early 60s. A turbulent time for black families like hers—the beginnings of her families’ shop weathering through civil rights, woman’s equality and the assassination of leaders who looked to even the playing field for all.

In the 1990s, Rudine Sims Bishop, a children’s author discussed writing from the perspective of mirrors, windows or sliding doors. As writers, we should be inclusive as well. Do we write so that our readers can see reflections of themselves in the story (#ownvoice), or so they can see other worlds through the story we’ve written, or do we offer a sliding glass door so that readers are a part of the real world we actually live in?

For so long there were children from different ethnicities and cultures who didn’t see characters like themselves in the books they read. No stories written from the perspective of a “mirror” were on the library and bookstore shelves. 

Books, like Win’s ice cream concoctions, should celebrate the rich dimensions of diversity and hopefully we are moving toward that. Today, the literary community is seeking to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all people. Books have the power to encourage and enlighten readers. Words have the power to effect a change. Through them we must make sure everyone’s story is told.  

Below I’ve listed a few of my favorite cozy mystery books (old, new, still to come) written by diverse authors and Win will pair each with one of her culinary frozen delights found the books of my An Ice Cream Parlor Mystery series.

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey and Mango Sorbet

Perveen Mistry, the main character in The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey and published by Soho, is the daughter of a respected Zoroastrian family. She joins her father’s law firm and becomes one of the first practicing female lawyers in 1920s India. The budding attorney is appointed to represent the three widows of a wealthy business man who live in full purdah (strict seclusion). But things go off the deep end when the women’s guardian is murdered. Preveen has to pull back “the curtain” on this age old tradition in order to figure out who the murderer is. This cozy was well received, winning many awards and accolades. A great read! Picking out the just right frozen treat for this book is easy. Mango sorbet! Do you know that there are 283 different types of mangos in India? (Easy to see why it’s the national fruit.) Who knew there was more than one kind of mango? Win may have had some clue because she’d make her shiny, light sorbet with a squeeze of tart lime and tangy lemon—two other fruits native to the region. Fresh and delicious!

The Plot is Murder by V.M. Burns and Butter Pecan

With a string of books in this series from Kensington, you can nestle in for hours of enjoyable reading with V.M. Burns’ A Mystery Bookshop Mystery series. The first book, The Plot is Murder, introduces Samantha Washington as the newly widowed and new owner of a bookstore filled with mystery books. And how apropos seeing she’s writing a mystery of her own! In a unique twist and in an authentic voice Samantha pens the tale of Lady Penelope Marsh, a wealthy Brit, living in a time between the two world wars sharing the words of her manuscript with the reader. A death to be solved in each story, two thumbs up for this engaging cozy giving the reader two mysteries in one! And two great ingredients—fresh vanilla bean and roasted, buttery pecans would make the perfect ice cream to go along with the story. V.M. Burns is a Southern girl at heart and I’m sure even she would approve of Win’s choice. Butter pecan (how do you pronounce “pecan?”) made with browned butter, cream, sugar, eggs, fragrant vanilla beans and crunchy pecans is a big all over the world.

A Spell for Trouble by Esme Addison and Salted Caramel

In Esme Addison’s debut paranormal cozy from Crooked Lane, A Spell for Trouble, magic takes center stage. This otherworldly novel is set in the fictional seaside town of Bellamy Bay, on the coast of North Carolina. The main character, Aleksandra “Alex” Daniels, returns to visit family after her father’s death. An aunt and cousins she hadn’t seen in years. But what waits for her is more than a reunion, it’s an awakening. Upon her return, Alex learns that relatives from her mother’s side of the family are magical healers descended from mermaids (water, water everywhere) and she’s a witch! It all gets rolling when her aunt is framed for murder. A debut 2020 author, Addison’ book has been called “sparkling” and will sure to be craved by “those who love cozies, romance with an edge, and magical adventures.” (Kirkus) Ice cream for this book isn’t hard to figure out for Win. What other pairing would be better than something with sea salt? There aren’t any that I (or Win) can think of. So, salted caramel it is! Think of the sea, the boardwalk (there’s one in Addison’s book) and the sound of seagulls overhead . . . Smooth caramel folded into cream, milk, and eggs will certainly deliver a lush, sultry and luxurious frozen dessert that is perfect for this read.

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia Manansala and Ube

Coming from Berkley in 2021 is Mia Manansala’s Arsenic and Adobo, a culinary Filipino-themed cozy mystery that is sure to be a hit (aww, no cover yet, but stay tuned!). Filled with Filipino dishes and culture, a gaggle of aunties and some humor, things go terribly wrong in the family’s failing restaurant when protagonist Lila Macapagal’s high school sweetheart turns up dead. There is much love and family pride in this book between Lila and her titas who own the restaurant and their cooking. This cozy is one to look forward to and put high on your TBR list. Although the book is set in the Midwest, what else would fit right in but something that Lila’s aunties would serve from their own native-themed kitchen. Win’s pick? Ube ice cream. Made from a beautifully-colored yam, an indigenous staple of the Philippines, ube nowadays can be found everywhere. It’s a Filipino flavor used in ice cream, cakes, cookies and jam. Ube has such a beautiful purple color that Win wouldn’t add anything more than sugar, milk, and cream to the yam puree she’d make. The result? A smooth and creamy lavender colored ice cream with a lovely floral hint.

About the Author:

Wall Street Journal bestselling author Abby Collette loves a good mystery. She was born and raised in Cleveland, and it’s a mystery even to her why she hasn’t yet moved to a warmer place. Along with the Ice Cream Parlor mysteries, she is the author of the Logan Dickerson Mysteries, the southern cozy mystery series featuring a second-generation archaeologist and a nonagenarian who is always digging up trouble. She is also the author of the Romaine Wilder Mysteries, set in East Texas, which pairs a medical examiner and her feisty auntie who owns a funeral home and is always ready to solve a whodunit. Abby spends her time writing, facilitating writing workshops at local libraries and spending time with her grandchildren, each of whom are her favorite.

Abby is a member of Crime Writers of Color, and the Sisters in Crime national, regional and guppy chapters.

A Game of Cones by Abby Collette, out now!

In this charming mystery series set in an ice cream shop, no case is too cold to crack!

Bronwyn Crewse is delighted that Crewse Creamery, the ice cream shop her family has owned for decades, is restored to its former glory and serving sweet frozen treats to happy customers in the picturesque small town of Chagrin Falls, Ohio. But when a big city developer comes to town intent on building a mall, a killer with a frozen heart takes him out.

After literally stumbling across the body, one of Win’s closest friends becomes the prime suspect, and to make things worse, Win’s aunt has come to town with the intention of taking command of Crewse Creamery. Even though Win has a rocky road ahead to help her friend and keep her ice cream shop, it’ll take more than a sprinkle of murder to stop her from solving the crime and saving the day.

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