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Beef Stolen-Off: A Clueless Cook Mystery

Beef Stolen-Off: A Clueless Cook Mystery

By: Liz Lipperman
Publisher: Berkley
Pubication Date: July 2012
ISBN: 978-0425251423
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: July 16, 2012

No doubt fried bologna was good, but not that good. Jordan McAllister was practically doing a happy dance in front of her neighbors when she announced that she was going to be the culinary reporter for the “Ranchero Globe.” Jordan hadn’t mentioned that the only thing she could manage in the culinary department was curling bologna on the stove and an occasional casserole. Not to worry, little white lies were easier to whip up than a white sauce. Michael, Victor, and the rest of the gang nodded their approval at the promotion, but Jordan would still have to write those pesky personals. Penning the “Kitchen Kupboard” would be a snap!

Assignment numero uno from her boss, Dwayne Egan, was to head to the Cattlemen’s Ball. Lucas Santana wanted her to mention the shindig in her column. Jordan would have preferred to have gone with Alex, an FBI agent she dated, but instead her escort was Rusty Morales. Beef was big in the Southwest and so was that “frozen cow” of an ice sculpture outside the Pavilion Hotel. Jordan’s table was full of Texas’s beef tycoons and gropers, but a job was a job and admittedly Rusty was a hunk. Suddenly he began to cough violently, staggered outside, collapsed and died. Dating a cowboy corpse was definitely not part of her job description.

Things began to heat up fast and they weren’t in Jordan’s kitchen. Cooper and Drake “hadn’t looked too griefstricken,” but when she went to visit Rusty’s disabled mother, Maria, she was met with unexplained hysteria. Instead of frying up baloney, Jordan soon found herself chowing down on her favorite comfort food, Ho Hos. That hundred-buck-a-pound Wagyu beef was a hot commodity and it looked like cattle-rustling was picking up. Even the spirits were acting up at Sandy’s Gramp’s house and soon it would be séance time. What in tarnation was going on in cowboy country? It wouldn’t be long before she found out... “The two of you are going to jump when I tell you, or I’ll shoot you in the back.” Where were those Ho Hos when you needed them?

The twists and turns in this mystery will make you think you’re two-stepping in Urban Cowboy. Jordan may be a “clueless cook,” but when she finally starts to put together all the pieces of Rusty’s murder and the dilemma of Rachero’s cattle-rustling, things begin to pick up. Her brother, Danny, who is supposed to be working on the caper, has nothing on Jordan when she gets moving. Just when I thought everything was wrapped up and the mystery was solved, the tale took quite another turn and I had to rethink whodunit. The storyline seemed simple, but when I reached the end I realized that it was actually quite a bit more complicated than expected. Beef Stolen-Off was definitely a recipe that combined a bit of intrigue, purloined purebred cattle, and a dash of murder!

Quill says: If you like your cozy mysteries Texan style with a delightful dash of Jordan, a spicy hot sleuth, you'll love Beef Stolen-Off!

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