Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Laura enjoying warm apple pie
with vanilla ice cream
One of the first mystery series I ever read was by author Erle Stanley Gardner. His characters later became famous when the successful television show, Perry Mason, aired from 1957 to 1966.

Perry Mason’s right hand man was a woman, Della Street. Viewers watched for signs of a romantic involvement that never evolved, but as long as he kept pulling a rabbit out of the hat in court with the help of his investigator, Paul Drake, people were entertained.

Gail selflessly immersed
in research
 Mr. Gardner, writing as A.A. Fair, created another successful mystery series that didn’t appear as a television show. The protagonist of this series, Bertha Cool, was not built in the image of television’s attractive Della Street. In fact, she started as a 200 lb., plus-size woman who opened a detective agency in the 1930’s following her husband’s death. Her sidekick was a disbarred lawyer, Donald Lam.

In the 21st Century, I can see an updated version of them in a movie starring Queen Latifah as Bertha, and Don Cheadle as her sidekick.

The reason I mention Bertha Cool today is because of a discovery I made several weeks ago. Bertha possessed a weakness similar to that of my protagonist, Pepper Bibeau, an unrelenting love of pies. Bertha carried her indulgence to a “plus-size figure” extreme while Pepper limits hers to special occasions, thereby maintaining a modicum of control over her dress-size.

For the sake of authenticity, I selflessly immersed myself in the personal eating habits of Bertha Cool and Pepper Bibeau. During my research regarding the palatable appeal of pies, I relived the days of my childhood when most meals concluded with dessert. My favorite was always Mom’s still-warm, homemade apple pie covered with a scoop of slightly melted vanilla ice cream.

In my eagerness to thoroughly cover the field of pies, I probably taste-tested two dessert flavors never available to Bertha Cool, haupia and lilikoi. I'm sure she would have approved of both.

Chocolate Haupia pie
with Mango Chili tea

Lilikoi Double Layer

What is your favorite literary character’s primary indulgence?


  1. How noble of you, to make such a sacrifice. If you need some relief from such a grueling job, let me know. My character serves cookies in her shop, but she does cook. In my first book, Kate struggled to scramble an egg. :-)

  2. I love cookies, too! Just a junk food junkie. I'll have to hunt down your book. All I found on Kindle was one co-authored book of yours, and it didn't sound as though there would be cooking involved!

  3. No, not in that one, but in my first one, the hero makes pasta alla carbonara. The cookies are in the one coming out this fall.
    Tell us more about yours? What's with the pie?


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