I always know I’m going to be highly entertained when I pick up a book by Cindy Sample and her newest release, DYING FOR A DOUBLE, is no exception. This eighth book in the Laurel McKay Mystery series finds Laurel McKay Hunter trying to bring in clients after teaming up with her new husband and step-father in opening their own private investigation firm. Ms. Sample writes great tongue-in-cheek humor and I was laughing out loud as Laurel tried to come up with good marketing tag lines for their agency. Laurel also seems to consistently find herself in zany, troublesome positions, despite her best efforts, which adds additional layers of humor. Not only does the protagonist provide laughs, but the author has developed a good supporting cast of quirky characters, particularly Laurel’s Gran. Gran is known as being Trouble with a capital T and she steals each scene she’s in. Despite the situations Laurel finds herself in, I appreciate the fact that she and her husband have a blended family and she’s committed to her kids. It brings a sense of everyday-ness to the story and makes Laurel feel more relatable.
Another entertaining feature of Ms. Sample’s books is her description of the various locations each book takes place at. It’s obvious that she invests a lot of time researching the locales and career situations Laurel and her cohorts find themselves in. In DYING FOR A DOUBLE, Laurel starts in Coloma, California, a historic town known for being the center of the Gold Rush, participating as an extra on a movie set. The author’s strong descriptive voice helps the reader see, feel, smell, taste, and hear what the characters do. From Coloma, Laurel and her best friend, Stan, head to Hollywood. I got a chuckle out of her description of trying to drive in the bumper-to-bumper traffic on Southern California freeways. She captured it perfectly. With so much fun going on in the story, Ms. Sample still manages to pack in a well-plotted mystery with subplots to keep the reader intrigued and coming back for more.
While there weren’t any recipes in this particular book (there are some in her other books) Ms. Sample has kindly provided a recipe for Double Chocolate Mousse Cake. I’ve made a few similar recipes in the past, however none have been so easy or so non-fussy to make. Despite the fairly short ingredient list and instructions, the resulting dessert is absolutely mouthwatering. And since there isn’t any flour in the recipe, this is also a delicious treat to share with those that must eat gluten-free. I’ll admit, I had a very difficult not eating it all up before Christmas dinner was served! I’ve included a short video tutorial at the bottom of the page on how to create the gold and silver stars that I decorated the top of the cake with. It was the perfectly decadent way to end a holiday feast!
Heads turn when Laurel McKay Hunter gets a gig as an extra in a movie filming near her home. Why? Laurel’s a dead ringer for the female lead. The next day the actress vanishes from the set.
The frantic director recruits Laurel to double for the missing woman while she uses her off-screen investigative talents to search for her. Despite having zero acting experience, Laurel reluctantly steps in. Then she stumbles over a dead body on the set. Is the murder connected to the actress’s disappearance?
Laurel chases clues as the action moves from the historic Gold Country to sun-kissed Malibu beaches to the glamorous and sometimes seedy Hollywood scene. The intrepid detective quickly discovers all that glitters is not gold. Can she find the actress and catch a killer before it’s too late? Or will her final role be playing dead?
A special thanks to Cindy Sample for providing one winner with their choice of print or an e-book copy of DYING FOR A DOUBLE. Contest ends Sunday, January 12, 2020 at 11:59 pm PST and print is limited to U.S. residents. Please use the Rafflecopter box located below to enter. The winner will be announced on this page and on Cinnamon & Sugar’s Facebook page, as well as notified by email (so check your spam folder!)
- 2 8 oz packages semi-sweet chocolate or 16- 1 oz squares
- 2 cups (4 sticks) butter
- 1 cup half and half or light cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 large eggs
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1-1/4 cup chocolate pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Grease a 10-inch springform pan.
Heat all ingredients, except the eggs, in a heavy saucepan over low heat until chocolate is melted, stirring frequently.
Whisk eggs in separate bowl then slowly beat the chocolate mixture into eggs.
Pour batter into prepared springform pan. Bake 45 minutes, or until center looks set.
Cool cake completely, then remove sides and chill 6 hours or longer.
Heat 1 cup of heavy cream just until steaming. Don't boil.
Pour over the chocolate pieces and stir until completely smooth.
Pour melted chocolate mixture over chilled cake and return to refrigerator until ganache is set.
Dip a sharp knife into hot water and dry before slicing into mousse cake. Repeat with each cut.
To make decorated star toppings, trace star shape patterns onto a piece of white paper. Place parchment paper over the patterns and tape edges to secure. Warm 1/4 cup chocolate pieces or candy melts in microwave just until they melt. (Stir often and don't overheat.) Place in a piping bag (or ziplock bag) and snip a small opening. Pipe chocolate over the star patterns onto the parchment paper. Allow to completely harden then peel off from parchment paper. Place 1/8 teaspoon gold (or silver) luster dust in a small dish and add a few drops of vodka to make a paste. (100 proof vodka works best.) Using a food-safe brush, paint the flat side of the stars with the mixture. Once the stars have dried, position on top of the ganache before it cools. I also used silver dragees and edible gold star sprinkles to complete the look.
You can also use colored candy melts and a variety of simple patterns to coordinate designs for any holiday.
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See how to make the chocolate star embellishments:
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