"Seasoned with Murder" By Catherine Bruns: Review/Giveaway/Halloween Recipe

 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, along with a Halloween recipe.

Fortune Cookies…and Mystery!

Sally Muccio, now Mrs. Mike Donovan and Cookie’s mommy, has seen troubles and triumphants since returning to her hometown of Colwestern, New York. Sally’s Samples, her novelty cookie shop that she opened with BFF Josie Sullivan, is doing grand business with their popular fortune cookie gimmick as a bittersweet PR gem. Even though she’s been plagued with discovering more than a few dead bodies and finding herself in a few perilous predicaments, she’s discovered she has a keen sense for solving puzzles. All of this is courtesy of Karma and, of course, those prophetic fortune cookies.

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Image Source Gemma Halliday Publishing
Seasoned with Murder
Earns 5/5 Ports of Call…Entertaining Cozy Gem!

The Donovan-Muccio-Sullivan families are set to sail on Seas the Moment for a week-long cruise through the Caribbean, but at what cost...no cost! The trip is one of those “working vacations” with Muccio Sr., a guest speaker at a mortuary exposition on board, and Sally and Josie helping to cater the desserts and fill in when needed. Sarah Leigh Walker, executive director of the ship’s galleys, is excited to be working with Sally and Josie, but she is a little too friendly with Mike and a bit too snarky with the kitchen staff.

Muccio Sr. has always been proud of his daughter’s cookie success, and pulls out a plastic bag of fortune cookies to share. Well, they weren’t meant to be shared since Nicoletta Gavelli, neighbor/in-law from hell, demanded one for each day of the cruise. Sarah Leigh is flabbergasted by the “cookie with a conscience,” but she pales at the second message: A secret a day will keep your friends away. Sally and Josie, then, witness a very threatening conversation between Sarah Leigh and kitchen staffer Lucy, and cringe at the verbal, then physical, “cat fight” between Sarah Leigh and Mrs. Gavelli over a misunderstanding related to Nicoletta‘s boyfriend. Sally prays the trip doesn’t get any worse, but, as Grandma Rosa points out, “…wherever our family is concerned, things can always get worse.” Very prophetic words when a dead body is found in the freezer and Nicoletta is suspect number one!

Fortune-irific! Catherine Bruns has taken the group on the road [ocean], and although this twelfth book may start with a soap opera-ish feel with various familial dynamics and quirky personalities, when Sarah Leigh’s body is discovered, it turns Agatha Christie real fast! Nicoletta Gavelli is the character from hell as she criticizes, attacks, and maligns those around her, so it’s hard to be sympathetic. The only one who may have some influence on her behavior is Sally’s Grandma Rosa, but even she can’t help Nicoletta being implicated in murder. Secrets, identities, and connections are exposed along with jealousies, revenge, and greed in this “locked room” style murder with the killer roaming the ship’s gangways. A few perilous predicaments plague Sally and the family for some entertaining, nail-biting moments, and of course, last minute revelations and a final arrest left me thoroughly pleased.

The murder mystery, investigation, high seas setting, and final wrap up is pure Catherine Bruns’ fun, but so is her writing style filled with descriptive language to paint the nuances of the ship, the cruise, and characters along with dialogue that illustrates the various multi-generational personalities and emotions. This series is a favorite! I’ve enjoyed following the changes in Sally from bruised divorcée to loving wife and mother. Her BFF is more a sister and her sister is also a good friend. For comic relief, Sal’s parents are the definition of quirky from her “hot stuff” mother’s youthful attitude and fashion to her Mr. Death dad’s fascination, now his business, with all things funerals. Grandma Rosa is insightful, and despite the frequent misstep with English idioms and phrases, she offers the best advice and words to live by. Nicoletta Gavelli, the bane of everyone’s existence, may be an official in-law in the family with her grandson married to Sally’s sister Gianna, but she tests everyone’s resolve not to throw her overboard. With a clever story, realistic snooping, good trouble, and wonderful characters, this series is a Top Ten favorite!

Recipes, too! Catherine Bruns always includes a few recipes to enrich the reading experience, and often the ones she chooses have a direct link to the story. Enjoy, these treats: No-Bake Rum Ball Cookies, Cheesecake Cookies, Lemon Coconut Cookies, and Raspberry Danish. Mangia!

Be a Big Catherine Bruns Fan!

USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bruns pens many of my favorite cozy series that true cozy fans should not miss. From Gemma Halliday Publishing there is this Cookies & Chance Mystery series with the cryptic messages found in her fortune cookies, the Cindy York Mystery illustrating the murderous side of real estate, and the Carrie Jorgenson series in the Aloha Lagoon Mystery multi-author collection giving us a delightful Hawaiian setting. She also has her Italian Chef Mysteries series serving up pasta, problems, and peril. Something for every cozy interest and many with easy-to-follow recipes!

Facebook—Catherine Bruns Books

Website—Catherine Bruns

Newsletter Sign Up—CatherineBruns Receive a bonus short story from the Cookie & Chance series: Prequel Formals, Fortune Cookies & Fraud.

Fortune Cookies

With permission from Catherine Bruns

Excerpt from: Tastes Like Murder, Gemma Halliday Publishing

Fortune cookies need not be relegated to only at the end of your Chinese take-out meal or for Chinese New Year. Add some fun to your Halloween party with delightful “spooky” fortunes [“Frankenstein says, “Give your heart, and you’ll get something good in return.”] inside varying shades of orange-colored treats dipped in chocolate or sprinkled with candy confetti. How festive!


2 large egg whites

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup flour

Typed or handwritten fortunes – Make at least two inches long so that you can see where they are when the cookie is folded.

Orange food coloring

Approximately 4 ounces chocolate chips for dipping – Toll House, Reese’s, or Heath-flavored, whichever you prefer.

Halloween-themed Sprinkles (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and grease a metal cookie sheet. In a medium sized bowl, stir together egg whites, vanilla, cinnamon, flour, and sugar. The batter should be very loose. If not, feel free to add a few drops of water.

Photo from Evermine.com

Scoop about a tablespoon of batter and pour onto the cookie sheet in a circle. Use the back of a spoon to smooth the circle out and make a thin layer to form a medium sized cookie. Only bake a couple of cookies at a time since they harden quickly upon removal from the oven. Bake cookies for about 6-8 minutes, only until the edges begin to brown.

Remove the cookies from the oven. Then use a thin spatula to remove them from the tray. Immediately place the fortunes in the center and fold the cookie in half. Pinch the open edges inward and together to create the fortune cookie shape. Cookies harden instantly after they are formed, so you want to try to get this right the first time.

After all cookies have been baked and shaped, melt the entire amount of chips in the microwave for about 30 seconds on medium heat. Afterward, dunk the rounded edge of the cooled cookies into the chocolate. Immediately roll in sprinkles, and let harden. Place on parchment paper. Makes about one dozen cookies.

To enter to win an ebook copy of Seasoned with Murder, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "seasoned,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 8, 2022. 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. Sounds like an interesting story.
    May have to catch up to the current
    installment. thanks

  2. The book sounds intriguing. I'd love to win a copy. PS: the black background on this site makes it very difficult for those with eye problems to read the writing. rgp1950@yahoo.com


  3. "Seasoned with Murder" by Catherine Bruns seems like a great book that would be a tasty mystery read.

    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

  4. We have a winner!
    Lorie Ham


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