Saturday, November 10, 2012

Weekend Guest Elaine Viets

Elaine Viets writes two mystery series. Murder Is a Piece of Cake is the eighth novel featuring St. Louis mystery shopper Josie Marcus. Elaine’s bestselling Dead-End Job series is a satiric look at a serious subject – the minimum-wage world. Her character, Helen Hawthorne, works a different low-paying job each book. Final Sail, Elaine Viets’ latest hardcover mystery, explores the world of the haves and the have-yachts. The New York Times Review of Books praises her “quick-witted mysteries.”  Elaine won the Agatha, Anthony and Lefty Awards. Find out more at

Research Is a Piece of Cake
By Elaine Viets

Wedding bells for Elaine and Don.
When Don and I married in 1971, we had a traditional St. Louis wedding: white dress, black tux, best friends in peach chiffon. I wanted a bouquet of red roses, but Mother thought that was too daring. I was allowed one red rose. The rest of the bouquet had to be white.

So was the wedding cake: vanilla with swags of white butter-cream icing. The cake topper was the standard plastic bride and groom.

Mom would have been shocked scarlet at cake toppers now. I researched them for my character, Josie Marcus, in Murder Is a Piece of Cake, the eighth novel in my mystery shopper series.

In Murder Is a Piece of Cake, Josie Marcus marries her veterinarian boyfriend, Ted Scottsmeyer. But it isn’t an easy walk down the aisle. Lenore, her future mother-in-law, flies in from Boca to help with (control) the wedding. Josie wishes someone would lock up her meddling mother-in-law. Boy, do they. Lenore is arrested for murder and Josie has to find the real killer before she can marry Ted.

Weddings have definitely changed in forty-one years. Even simple cake toppers. We had a plastic bride and groom on our wedding cake. Now, cake toppers range from sexy to scary.  In this section from Murder Is a Piece of Cake, Ellen, a bakery shop manager, shows cake toppers to Josie and her mother, Jane.

“We have some amusing cake toppers,” Ellen said. “We have a bride and groom with fairy wings and a princess and her knight in armor for fairytale weddings.”

“Pretty,” Josie said. “But ours is more modern.”

“Here’s a bridal couple both talking on their cell phones,” Ellen said.

“A little too modern,” Josie said.

“How about this one where the bride wears the groom’s pants and he wears boxer shorts with his tux?”

“Interesting, but no,” Josie said.

“We have this sexy cake topper.” Ellen showed her a bridal couple from the back, grabbing each other’s bottoms.

Jane looked shocked.

“For those who take ‘till death do us part’ seriously,” Ellen said, “we have a selection of skeleton brides and grooms. Like this one.” The grinning bride had a tattered veil on her skull.

“A little grim,” Josie said.

“My daughter is not getting married on Halloween,” Jane said.

“You’ll love our stylish monogrammed initials,” Ellen said. “We have silver, gold, Swarovksi crystal, pearls.”

“Elegant,” Jane said. “What about real flowers instead of sugar roses?”

“Those are lovely,” Ellen said. “But cut flowers are often sprayed with pesticides. Are you sure you want that on your food?”

Never use calla lilies, holly, mistletoe, amaryllis and poinsettias. Put those on your cake, and they’ll be drop-dead gorgeous. You’ll serve pretty poison.

Ever wear an outrageous bridesmaid dress – or a gorgeous one? Both could win you $100 in books in the Elaine Viets Bridesmaid Dress Contest. Upload your photos at


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Rick Blechta said...

Thanks for stopping by, Elaine. Very interesting piece. Having played at more weddings than we care to admit, both my wife and I know some weddings can be pretty off the wall. She played at an East Indian wedding a year or so back that featured real elephants being ridden by the bride and groom!

Frankie Y. Bailey said...

Thank you for joining us, Elaine. Great blog.

I'm at New England Crime Bake this weekend, so my thank you to Rick for getting your images in place and your blog posted.

"Pretty poison," huh? I'll have to keep that in mind.

Elaine Viets said...

Keep in mind how, Frankie?
Anyone you're planning to do away with?

Elaine Viets said...

Elephants are so much cooler than a carriage ride, Rick. But where do you rent an elephant?

Rick Blechta said...

Bowmanville Zoo

Toronto has everything.


(And elephant poop can be a real problem.)

Janet Rudolph said...

No photos of ugly bridesmaid gowns, thank goodness. I wore them, but I don't have documentation. I posted my own wedding topper on Facebook last month. Dudley Do-Right and Betty Boop. Definitely perfect for Frank and me!

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