"Slayed by Souvlaki" By Jenny Kales: Review/Giveaway

Review by Kathleen Costa

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win an ebook copy of the book and a link to purchase it.

From the Mediterranean to the Midwest to…Murder

Calliope Costas is a single mother, and with help from a close-knit family that includes Grandmother Viv, is raising eleven-year-old Olivia. She is also the owner of Callie’s Kitchen, and with her employees turned friends, she offers delicious “Mediterranean-inspired meals-from-scratch with a Midwestern heart.” Her family have been long-time residents of Crystal Bay, Wisconsin, ever since her father George, as a young man, immigrated from his home, the Greek island of Kalos, opening a Greek-inspired diner which may be where Callie honed her own culinary aptitude. She has also, unfortunately, found herself either a person of interest or an active contributor in more than her fair share of murder investigations. On the bright side, these incidents introduced her to the local detective Ian Sands, a British ex-pat, who has not only been her connection with law enforcement but now her “significant other.” So, with Callie’s friends manning the Kitchen, the family is on their way to Kalos. George finally married Kathy, and afterwards, announced he was taking the family to the place of his birth for a ten-day holiday. Even Ian had arranged to use some of his many vacation days to join the family. “Yassou!” Welcome to Greece!

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Slayed by Souvlaki
Earns 5/5 Evil Eye Charms…Engaging Page-Turner!

George has spared no expense booking passage for the family on a high-speed ferry from Athens to Kalos. The troop is having varied reactions to the rough seas which included the rude introduction to the Whitleys, an American and her son Sterling. Unfortunately, the small island destined the family to run into the two again and again and again. Everyone, however, is thrilled about the night’s festivities; dressed up and ready to party, the family arrives at one of the island’s best tavernas, Kallisto, owned by George’s dearest childhood friend Demitrios. The evening went beyond expectations with delicious food including their speciality Souvlaki (skewered kabobs), local retsina wine, and traditional Greek music and dancing “Opa!” (no plate crashing), but there were a few disruptions: Yvonne Whitley and her demanding manner, conflicts between the wait staff, an argument witnessed between Demetrios, the handsome waiter, and a local fisherman, and of course, the dead body skewered in the kitchen. The visits to ancient ruins, the beach, and all the shops and restaurants do not keep Callie from becoming actively curious of the murder, so for Ian, it’s a “can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” philosophy.

Opa-licious Fun! Jenny Kales is not just a fantastic author, but she’s one of my favorite authors, and although it was a long-time anticipating the fifth book in her Callie’s Kitchen mysteries, it was well-worth the wait! They’re in Greece, quite the exotic destination with descriptions of sights, sounds, and tastes making me want to book a flight immediately. Jenny follows the traditional cozy formula I personally enjoy: early discovery of the crime, focus on the investigation, close-to-home arrestee, fascinating characters, interesting setting (maybe a bucket list location), a bit of romance, recipes incorporated in the story or as a bonus, and some nail-biting peril. Whew! She’s got it all wrapped up in a delightful third person narrative with vivid description and fun and informative banter. The mystery is easy to follow, clever with curious occurrences that send the duo in different directions looking for the real killer. Money, greed, business conflicts, and relationships all seem reasonable avenues to explore, but efforts are tainted by veiled warnings, threatening notes, and a disappearance. Outside the gathering of clues and ruffling of feathers, Jenny has the family collaborating to find some missing jewelry, hitting the tourist spots, enjoying several family gatherings in and out of the water, and helping out in the kitchen...all with engaging description. Loved it! Newbies can easily start here with book five and will find the “Cast of Characters” list an invaluable resource as an introduction or, for established fans, revisiting the characters with basic details and connections.

Bonus! Always a delight, Jenny includes “Recipes from Callie’s Kitchen” and from this story we are treated to Dimetrios’s specialities and something from Leda’s Sweets: Kallisto’s Souvlaki, Greek Rice Pilaf, Greek Cucumber Yogurt Sauce (Tzatkiki), Saint Fanourios Olive Oil Cake (Fanouropita), Greek Twist Cookies (Koulourakia), Stuffed Peppers (Yemista), and Phyllo Custard Pastry (Galaktoboureko). For an added treat, check out some other recipes on Jenny Kales website HERE which includes one of my favorites: George’s Spanakopita!

Callie’s Kitchen Mystery

On the Chopping Block (2016)

Spiced and Iced (2016) KRL Review HERE Including a fabulous interview.

Secrets and Pies (2017) KRL Review HERE Including recipe for Greek Pumpkin Pie.

A Stew to a Kill (2018)

Slayed By Souvlaki (2021)

 “Anyone Can Cook!” Cozy Cookbooks To Love (November 23, 2019 Issue)

I was pleased to have gone beyond reviewing cozy mysteries by reviewing cookbooks by authors of cozy mysteries. Jenny Kales was one who compiled in one handy reference recipes from her Callie’s Kitchen Mystery series along with more of her personal favorites. This is the review I made along with a link to Amazon.

Callie’s Kitchen Mystery Cookbook Earns 5/5 Silver Baking Pans! This [137 page] cookbook, Callie’s Kitchen Mystery Cookbook) is filled with recipes combining flavors from the Mediterranean with down-home Midwest comfort food! Every mouthwatering recipe found in the series is included along with several new bonus specialties, book excerpts, brand-new scenes, family lore, and kitchen tips from Callie Costas herself. You can channel your own Greek kitchen goddess with such culinary treats like George’s Spanakopita (Spinach-Feta Pie with Phyllo), Kourabiethes (Greek snowball cookies), New Year’s Meat-Leek Pie with Phyllo, Zucchini Fritters with Greek Yogurt Sauce, and My Big (Low) Fat Greek Salad. Also be comforted with these Midwestern favorites: Wisconsin Supper Club Cheese Spread, Callie’s Sour Cherry Pie, and Pumpkin Spice Scones. “I love what the food writer M.F.K. Fisher said about cooking for your loved ones: ‘…one of the pleasantest of all emotions is to know that I, with my brain and my hands, have nourished my beloved few, that I have concocted a stew or a story, a rarity, or a plain dish, to sustain them truly against the hungers of the world.’ I channel this sentiment in my own cooking, and in my character, Callie Costas.”

Thank you, Jenny, what about Thanksgiving? “I can’t pick just one [favorite food]. The whole thing! It’s my favorite meal of the year. However, at my mother-in-law’s table, there is usually a spanakopita along with all the other traditional Thanksgiving dishes. And that’s kind of what Callie’s Kitchen is all about.”

Become a Big Jenny Kales Fan!

For Jenny Kales inspiration came from marrying into a Greek-American family which  led her to write a culinary cozy mystery series, The Callie’s Kitchen Mystery, featuring a Greek-American heroine and inspired by a favorite place she likes to visit, the picturesque waterfront town by the Geneva Lakes in Wisconsin. Big News on her website…“I have other mystery novel projects that I’m developing. I plan to release a new first-in-series called The Middleton Murders Society early in 2022.”

Facebook – Jenny Kales Mystery Author

Website – Jenny Kales

Twitter – @Jenny_Kales

To enter to win an ebook copy of Slayed by Souvlaki, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "slayed,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen November 13, 2021. US residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via comment please include your email address so we can contact you. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section in Kings River Life and in our mystery category here on KRL News & Reviews. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. And check out our new mystery podcast which features mystery short stories and first chapters read by local actors! A new episode goes up next week.

You can use this link to purchase the book or click here. If you have adblocker on you may not be able to see the Amazon link:

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is a 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying her retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband.
Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Another book I would enjoy reading.

  2. Thanks for including Jenny Kale's latest book on your blog. My fingers are crossed
    that I might be chosen.

  3. Love this series! I used several recipes from the series too!

  4. I'm so happy there is a new Callie's Kitchen book out. Love this series!

  5. Love the series! And looking forward to the new book!

  6. I’d love to read this! legallyblonde1961@yahoo.com


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