Temple, Lou Jane
Temple, Lou Jane
PERSONAL: Married; children: Reagan, Jed.
CAREER: Chef, restauranter, and writer. Former owner of Café Lulu, Kansas City, MO; guest chef at Culinary Institute of America and James Beard Foundation; currently develops menus for new restaurants.
(With A. Cort Sinnes) The Big Platter Cookbook: Cooking and Entertaining for a Crowd, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 2004.
The Spice Box (novel), Berkley Prime Crime (New York, NY), 2005.
Death du Jour (mystery novel), Berkley Prime Crime (New York, NY), 2006.
"HEAVEN LEE" MYSTERY SERIES
Death by Rhubarb, St. Martin's Paperbacks (New York, NY), 1996.
Revenge of the Barbecue Queens, St. Martin's Paperbacks (New York, NY), 1997.
A Stiff Risotto, St. Martin's Paperbacks (New York, NY), 1997.
Bread on Arrival, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1998.
The Cornbread Killer, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 1999.
Red Beans and Vice, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2001.
Death Is Semisweet, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2002.
Contributor to periodicals, including Kansas City magazine.
SIDELIGHTS: Mystery novelist Lou Jane Temple is a chef and restaurateur who consults with restaurants in developing new and innovative menus. She uses her considerable kitchen skills to literary effect in the "Heaven Lee" series of food-themed culinary mysteries. The books are centered around the cooking adventures and sleuthing skills of ex-attorney Heaven Lee, a chef and restaurant owner in Kansas City, Missouri, whose real name is Katherine O'Malley. Heaven Lee is introduced in Death by Rhubarb, Temple's first book. At Café Heaven, Lee's Kansas City restaurant, both the inside business and the catering arm are busy and successful. After a difficult stretch of personal and business problems, Heaven thinks she is finally past her problems and is looking forward to nurturing her flourishing business. When her first ex-husband's date is poisoned in the cafe, however, her newfound happiness comes crashing down. To save her restaurant and herself, Heaven becomes an amateur sleuth determined to uncover the perpetrator behind the murder. A colorful cast of neighborhood regulars band together to help out. Temple also inaugurates her recurring technique of including detailed recipes for dishes associated with the novel at hand. In her story, "Temple develops a sense of community, often absent in urban settings, which is crucial to catching the killer," observed a Publishers Weekly reviewer.
In Bread on Arrival Heaven indulges her current passion for bread-making. As she studies the subtleties of the baking arts, she attends the ARTOS breadmakers' conference held in town. The ARTOS members endorse all-natural breads and disdain mass-produced commercial breads. Foul play is suspected when General Irwin Mills, the chief of an experimental grain laboratory, falls to his death in front of hundreds of ARTOS attendees. When Heaven discovers a fellow attendee face down and dead in an enormous pan of dough, she must investigate and locate the killer before more bakers and dough-pullers wind up dead. Meanwhile, Heaven has to deal with her boyfriend, Hank, a Vietnamese physician twenty years her junior, and her daughter's much-older lover, a rock musician twenty years her senior. "Heaven is a likable protagonist, and Temple knows how to construct an entertaining plot," commented reviewer Stuart Miller in Booklist.
The Cornbread Killer finds Heaven in a frenzy of work as she and the town prepare for a jazz festival and black heritage celebration. When disreputable and thoroughly disliked events planner Evelyn Edwards is found electrocuted, Heaven calls in colleagues Mona Kirk and Detective Bonnie Weber to help determine if the frying was accidental or a deliberate murder. Matters deteriorate quickly when a documentary film crew arrives, Charlie Parker's irreplaceable plastic saxophone disappears from the local jazz museum, two musical imposters are discovered, and a number of old jazz musicians with still-raw grudges come to town. Perhaps worse, a mysterious stranger is buying up all the ethnic foods in town, running Heaven dangerously short on the supplies she will need for the festival. "An abundance of interesting action, characters, and recipes will place this high on the acquisitions list," commented Rex E. Klett in Library Journal. "Temple's writing is light, fluffy, and as delicious as a chocolate soufflé," remarked Booklist contributor Jenny McLarin.
The Christmas season does not mean a moratorium on murder in Death Is Semisweet. A local family of chocolatiers, the Fosters, is in turmoil over an internal dirty deal: the eldest brothers deceived the younger siblings into selling them their shares of the company, after which the older brothers took the company public and made a fortune. When the company sends up an ostentatious pink blimp to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, someone literally shoots it out of the sky. Heaven Lee witnesses the crash that kills the pilot of the airship, and decides her investigative skills are needed to uncover the problems in the chocolate company. While snooping around the factory, she overhears the Foster brothers complaining of a bad deal with an African cocoa supplier. Worse, she finds her old friend, Stephanie Simpson, a distant Foster relative, standing with murder weapon in hand as the supplier floats dead in a vat of chocolate. Heaven is faced with the challenge of saving her old pal and sewing up the Foster family rift, all the while dealing with the never-ending complications of her own life. "Fans of the series are sure to be entertained," noted GraceAnne A. DeCandido in Booklist.
The Spice Box marks Temple's departure from the "Heaven Lee" series and the first book of a new food-themed historical mystery series. In U.S. civil war-era New York, Bridget Heaney has been hired as assistant cook in the mansion of wealthy merchant Isaac Gold. Her first day on the job gets off to an inauspicious start as she discovers Gold's youngest son, Seth, dead and stuffed inside a dough box. An incompetent police force inspires Gold to undertake his own investigation, with Bridget's help. While the mismatched duo searches for clue to Seth's murder, Bridget seeks information on her missing sister's whereabouts. They search for Seth's lover, Katherine, as well, but her dead body is soon discovered, too. As they continue to investigate, the boundary between employer and servant continues to blur. The spice box of the novel's title provides a tantalizing clue. A Publishers Weekly contributor called the book "memorable." Temple's work "expertly weaves together a fully realized look at the ghettoizing of Irish immigrants, Sephardic Judaism and New York during the Civil War," noted Oline H. Cogdill in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Temple has "written a delectable culinary historical mystery," concluded Harriet Klausner in MBR Bookwatch.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 15, 1998, Stuart Miller, review of Bread on Arrival, p. 202; December 1, 1999, Jenny McLarin, review of The Cornbread Killer, p. 688; July, 2001, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Red Beans and Vice, p. 1989; September 1, 2002, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Death is Semisweet, p. 64.
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2002, review of Death Is Semisweet, p. 999; April 1, 2005, review of The Spice Box, p. 391.
Library Journal, November 1, 1998, Rex E. Klett, review of Bread on Arrival, p. 128; January, 2000, Rex E. Klett, review of The Cornbread Killer, p. 166; September 1, 2002, Rex E. Klett, review of Death Is Semisweet, p. 219.
MBR Bookwatch, April, 2005, Harriet Klausner, review of The Spice Box.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 27, 2005, Suzanne Martinson, "That's Entertainment: Big Platter Cookbook Helps Hosts Limit the Stress When Feeding a Group."
Publishers Weekly, June 10, 1996, review of Death by Rhubarb, p. 96; March 10, 1997, review of Revenge of the Barbecue Queens, p. 64; September 7, 1998, review of Bread on Arrival, p. 88; November 22, 1999, review of The Cornbread Killer, p. 45; July 2, 2001, review of Red Beans and Vice, p. 56; April 4, 2005, review of The Spice Box, p. 47.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel, June 8, 2005, Oline H. Cogdill, review of The Spice Box.
Murder Express, http://www.murderexpress.net/ (October 23, 2005), biography of Lou Jane Temple.
Mystery Reader, http://www.themysteryreader.com/ (October 23, 2005), Jennifer Monahan Winberry, review of The Spice Box.
Romantic Times Online, http://www.romantictimes.com/ (October 23, 2005), Toby Bromberg, review of Death Is Semisweet and The Cornbread Killer.