Good food, good wine and good reads work together in perfect unison, like ink on a page. Last week, when I discovered New York-native and author Chris Forman, I knew I was in for a treat. After all, food and reads are in my bag. Forman’s latest mystery, “Killer Cuisine,” includes both and with a twist of local love, nonetheless. It includes our port city’s tastiest dining hot spots as a backdrop.
Food photographer, writer and teacher, Forman lives in the mid-Hudson Valley area of New York. Well-known on our culinary scene through his blog, Burgers and Brews Food Review (www.burgersandbrewsfoodreviews.blogspot.com), he frequently travels to the NC coast with his family. Author of the Maria Hart mystery series, which uses Chicago as its setting, Forman now brings the same light-hearted fare in a brand new succession of enigmatic tales appropriately titled, “The Port City Mysteries.”
“Killer Cuisine” encompasses its main character Ian Porthos Wallace, a kilt-wearing food photographer and mystery writer from Wilmington, North Carolina. When his friend, Nick, is found hiding in the bathroom of a restaurant with blood all over his chef coat, Wallace is asked by another friend, Demos, to help clear Nick’s name. Along the way, Wallcae reconnects with Athena, his on-again, off-again girlfriend, and a few other crazy, quirky and off-the-wall characters. It all add hilarity and scandal into the mix.
“I started writing eight years ago and I’ve written four novels [about] a female detective living in Chicago,” Forman says. “Two of my daughters live in Wilmington, and it inspired me to create a new mystery series but with a male protagonist done in first-person.
Forman admits he struggled a bit with “Killer Cuisine.” He feared the specifics. “I love it when a novel isn’t too complicated and bogged down with too many details,” he says, “I didn’t want it to become obvious who the killer was. When the dialogue gets confusing, and you have to spend more time to decipher what’s happening than enjoying the characters around the read, it no longer becomes a cozy mystery series.”
An avid fan of mystery writing, Forman has taken a page from the pros, hopefully throwing “enough red herrings in there to make sure the reader has a good time.” Should those readers be from our area, then without a doubt they will recognize many haunts, such as Front Street Brewery, Winnies Tavern and Sweet and Savory, to name a few.
“I like to eat, and I thought murder mysteries always give a nice, interesting background to a story,” he finishes. “And I’m a firm believer that if you want to write, read a lot. Even reading bad things will give you good ideas and let the stories within you come out.”
Forman is inspired by the Nero Wolf Series and aims to keep his characters similar to Archie Goodwin or Nick Charles “The Thin Man.” “I like quirky characters,” Forman shares.
Already, he is working on a sequel in the Port City Mystery Series, titled “Killer Surf,” due out in September. Loaded with blackmail and more insanely unusual people, the story follows Wallace once again, who is out for a morning walk on the beach. he trips over the dead body of his neighbor. His first reaction: vomit. His second: Help catch the killer.
“I had so much fun creating stripping neighbors, a beer-guzzling resident who only wears a bathrobe, a few batty old ladies, all who occupy the same street in the small town of Ogden,” Forman says. “I’ve always liked eccentric, odd-ball people.”
When he isn’t teaching or writing, Forman’s clearly undergoing book signings—one of which he will be a part of this week. Meet the author at Old Books on Front Street at 3:30 p.m on August 21st. He’ll be the man in a kilt.
For more details about his upcoming projects visit www.MariaHartMysteries.blogspot.com.