"Like Corinna's earlier adventures, this episode is cleverly written and chock full of charming characters, interesting puzzles and luscious descriptions of food with appended recipes." Kirkus Reviews
Corinna Chapman, owner of the bakery Earthly Delights, detests Christmas. The shoppers are frantic and the heat oppressive in Melbourne, Australia, where Christmas is a summer festival. Corinna is a perfect size 20 with a genius for baking bread. And while dreaming of air-conditioned comfort, she finds herself dealing with a rose-addicted donkey named Serena, a maniacal mother with staring eyes, a distracted assistant seeking the definitive glacé cherry recipe, her friend the fearless witch Meroe, and the luscious Daniel with whom she would like to spend a lot more time.
But Daniel is on the track of two runaways, Brigid and Manny. Their Romeo-and-Juliet romance is not as straightforward as it seems, and the pair will go a long way to avoid being found. With the help of a troupe of free-spirited "freegans," three very clever internet hackers, and a bunch of singing vegans, Corinna and Daniel go head-to-head with a sinister religious cult on a mission and a band of Romanies out for revenge in a wild and wonderful chase against the clock.
About the Author
Kerry Greenwood was born in the Melbourne suburb of Footscray and after wandering far and wide, she returned to live there. She has degrees in English and Law from Melbourne University and was admitted to the legal profession on the 1st April 1982, a day which she finds both soothing and significant. Kerry has written three series, a number of plays, including The Troubadours with Stephen D'Arcy, is an award-winning children's writer and has edited and contributed to several anthologies. The Phryne Fisher series (pronounced Fry-knee, to rhyme with briny) began in 1989 with Cocaine Blues which was a great success. Kerry has written twenty books in this series with no sign yet of Miss Fisher hanging up her pearl-handled pistol. Kerry says that as long as people want to read them, she can keep writing them. In 2003 Kerry won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Australian Association.
Read an Excerpt
Forbidden FruitA Corinna Chapman Mystery
By Kerry Greenwood
Poisoned Pen PressCopyright © 2010 Kerry Greenwood
All right reserved.
Chapter OneNow bring us some figgy pudding, And bring some out here! Trad.
Four am is not an ideal time, especially if someone is trying to have a conversation with you about glacé cherries and the desirability of making our own.
I opened one eye, which was about as much as could be expected, made a broad sweeping motion with my only available arm, and grunted 'Go away!' with all the force at my disposal.
'Oh, shit,' said someone, and there was a whisking noise. When the alarm went off and I really had to wake up, I saw, in order of perception: 1) my cat, Horatio, indicating extreme displeasure by folding himself into a tabby and white pillar and twitching the very end of his tail; 2) my apprentice, Jason, looking abashed and rumpling his thick curly blond hair; and 3) my lover, Daniel, holding Jason by the shoulder with one hand and offering me a large cup of very strong black coffee with the other.
The last was the only thing I wanted at that moment and the delegation departed, led by Horatio, who was suggesting that only immediate and the fullest of full-cream Farmhouse milk could assuage his injured feelings at this disgraceful irruption into his solemn morning ritual. In fact, they might gainfully omit the milk component and go straight for the cream.
After my first coffee, I did the usual morning things in my usual morning trance, spiced with some outrage. Jason might be a feckless adolescent but Daniel knew how I felt about being awoken even a millisecond before I had to be. I treasure my hours of sleep. I grumbled as I dressed in my size 20 cotton baker's overall—the weather was warm, which meant that the bakery would be blistering until the air conditioning kicked in—and pulled back my hair and secured it in a clip. I looked at myself in the mirror, always unwise at this hour. Three chins, which would refine to two when I woke up. Hair which was now reddish since Meroe had arrived with that henna rinse and the need for a subject for her experiment. Blue blurry eyes. Corinna Chapman. Good morning, ma'am.
Jason had gone, Daniel was reading the paper, and my croissant, jam, butter and a pot of coffee were on the table, while Horatio discussed his dish of cream underneath. I ate, I drank, I contemplated the front page of Daniel's paper and it came into focus. Gradually, I became a human, instead of a grizzly bear woken up before it was even spring. I hate it when this happens because I have to apologise for whatever it was I did when I was half asleep.
Fortunately, I hadn't done much. I might have meant to clip Jason's ears, but I simply hadn't had the coordination.
'What was all that about?' I asked.
'I caught him too late,' said Daniel. 'I was just coming in when I heard him babbling about making glacé cherries. Sorry, ketschele. I sent him down to begin the baking so you could have a civilised breakfast.'
'And so I have,' I replied, leaning over to kiss him. Mmm. Coffee and croissant and the scent of Daniel's skin, which always smelt like cinnamon. 'No harm done—I'll just mention that if he does such a thing again I will personally put him into a pie and bake him. This must be about his Christmas cakes. He's been obsessing about them for days.'
'And enthusiasm should not be quashed,' Daniel told me, returning the kiss with compound interest.
I know about these things, because I was once an accountant, until I discarded my pantyhose forever, gave my suits and kitten-heeled shoes to the Brotherhood, and took up baking, which has brought me modest financial profit and much greater happiness than I deserve.
I dumped the bad mood. What right had I to feel grumpy when I had Daniel and Jason and the inhabitants of Insula, an eccentric but fascinating building in the middle of Melbourne, my favourite city?
I smiled. Horatio, having finished the cream and his kitty dins, decided that a thorough wash was essential before he went to meet his public in the shop, Earthly Delights, and levitated onto a suitable chair for the purpose.
'Time to close the windows,' said Daniel. 'It's blowing a gale.'
'I hate north winds,' I agreed, doing so and pulling the dark curtains across. 'I loathe summer, and I detest Christmas. It's only the start of December. Already it's hot and already the shoppers are frantic. I'm glad we're closing for January, because by the time we get to Christmas, we are all going to be knackered.'
'Hanukkah is less stressful,' said Daniel. 'Now, if you are going to the bakery, I am going to have a shower and flake out. I've had a long night in the rafters, trying to locate a poison pen.'
'Tell me later,' I said, kissed him again, and descended to the bakery.
I was half an hour late, and Jason had already set all the mixers going, a charming noise. The Mouse Police, Heckle and Jekyll, had delivered their tribute of dead vermin and had been rewarded. I came in as Jason opened the door into Calico Alley and they scrambled out, in search of endangered species of the Southern Ocean, scraps of which Kiko and Ian from the Japanese restaurant always keep for them. For former street cats, they had expensive tastes.
The coffee pot was on and so was the industrial air conditioner, which might keep us alive during the summer. It was an engineering marvel, according to the Green Tech people who installed it, using waste heat from the ovens to do something ingenious and carbon neutral. And it was blasting out a lot of cold air, which was wonderful. I stood in the jet stream and revolved slowly.
'Rye bread on, Captain, pasta douro prepared, muffin mix ready.'
'Well done, Midshipman.' I saluted. We were playing Hornblower, which Jason had taken as his manual for living. There could be worse role models. Besides, I got to be captain. 'Now, what was that about cherries?'
'Sorry to wake you, sir, I won't do that again,' he mumbled. 'But why shouldn't we make our own glacé cherries? It just needs someone to watch the syrup. It has to be cheaper than buying them in hundred-gram lots.'
'You want to try it? Go ahead,' I said, waving a Picardian hand. 'Make it so.'
He jumped up and showed me a recipe. It was handwritten.
'Where's this from?' I asked.
'Yai Yai,' he answered, meaning the matriarch of the delightful Pandamus family, who run Cafe Delicious. 'She says you can candy anything with it.'
'Yes, it's glykos, it's yummy,' I observed. 'Go ahead, but it's going to be a long process!'
'No problem, Captain, I'd rather stay in here with the cooler on anyway.'
'Good point,' I agreed. I was going to ask Therese Webb, Insula's expert on all things woven, tatted, knitted, spun, embroidered and stitched, to teach me some handicrafts. It was looking to be a long summer. I preferred the planet when it had more ozone layer.
I sat down to drink more coffee and compound my seed bread, a delicacy which comes to its full flower when married to blue cheese, and noticed that the Mouse Police had come back, reeking of tuna and panting. Cats generally don't like summer. Horatio, who is getting on, loves the sun, but no cat likes the north wind, which disarrays the ears and fibrillates the whiskers. They plumped down on their flour sacks for a good grooming session in the backwash of the cool air. I could tell that the air conditioner was going to be a popular acquisition. Five in the morning and already the alley was being scoured by a hectic, invasive, dust-bearing wind which would, as soon as the sun rose, turn into dragon's breath.
Jason clanged the first of the rye loaves out of the oven and put in the pasta douro. I took a deep breath. I can only smell the scents of the bakery early in the morning. The nose gets used to smells, which is probably a survival trait for, say, Rotorua with all those sulphur lakes, but is also a pity considering that the aroma of baking bread is one of the premium scents of the universe. I let the cracked wheat slide through my fingers. Jason was reading, which was hard for the boy, as he had been thrown out of school very early. But he was teaching himself and one day he might even grasp the concept of spelling, and grammar as well. Though he was going to get that from Hornblower, not from recipes.
'Have we got a cherry stoner?' he asked.
'I expect so,' I replied. 'Go and check the second drawer from the left in my kitchen.'
I have a theory that all kitchens, if sufficiently occupied and loved, grow their own appliances. Only this can explain that that particular drawer always jams on an ice-cream scoop, which I am sure I never bought, and that I had at one time three melon ballers. Or it could be that some previous tenant was devoted to the worship of the goddess Anoia (a creation of the divine Terry Pratchett) who rules over Things That Stick in Drawers. Jason was serious about this Christmas cake project. I went over to see what he was reading.
An op shop recipe book, my favourite kind. Its pages were stained with ingredients long dried and it had the statutory sheaf of newspaper cuttings interleaved through the pages. I wondered how anyone could want to make lambs' brains in cream sauce when Jason came back with a grin and a cherry stoner, which looks like it was designed to do impolite things to cows.
'I reckon this ought to be it,' he said. 'You got a lot of junk in that drawer, Captain!'
'I know, and it is inevitable. No matter. Nice book.'
'Mrs. Dawson gave it to me. She said she wouldn't be needing it again, she mostly eats out. And she says she knows all her favourites by heart. I'd love that,' he said, suddenly, clutching the cherry stoner to his adolescent bosom and looking upwards in rapture. With his golden curls and blue eyes, he looked like a painting by one of the Pre-Raphaelites of The Soul's Awakening. 'To know all the recipes by heart.'
'And so you shall,' I assured him. 'I'm going to do my seed bread—can you get the muffins on?'
'Last of the rye bread on,' he said, sliding the tins into the oven. 'Muffins, aye, sir!'
I sat down by the mixer and poured the seeds into the mix, in order, heaviest to lightest. This is a lovely bread but it needs care. Most things that are worth anything do. I listened to the mixers mixing, the ovens roaring, the air conditioner breathing and the Mouse Police purring. I was a very lucky woman. Time went on. Bread got baked.
The plastic-wrapped paper hit the door and I fielded it before it could fly into a tub. That paperboy has it in for me. Leaving the very last mix to rise, I dismissed Jason to Cafe Delicious, whose Trucker's Special he can engulf in record time (three eggs, a potato pancake or hash brown, two strips of bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans, sausages, toast and a can of Pepsi; I do not know where he puts it all in his slim frame). The Pandamus family clean up betting on how long it will take him to eat it.
I sliced ham and bread and cheese for the shop, counted out the orders and put them in their shipping cage for the courier to pick up and deliver to the restaurants in the city. It was getting light and fairly soon I would have customers walking down Calico Alley.
The first was my favourite witch, Meroe.
'Blessed be,' she said.
'Good morning, though I hesitate to say that.'
'The Goddess is in a mood,' she agreed. 'Seed bread? Wonderful. I intend to hole up with Belladonna until the storm comes.'
'There's a storm coming?'
Meroe has long, harsh black hair and always dresses in a black top, a long black skirt and a wrap, from the colour of which you can usually guess her mood. I don't know how old she is. When she smiles, she might be a weather-beaten forty. When she broods, she might be a youthful seventy. She takes care of all magical ritual round our way from her shop, the Sibyl's Cave. Today's wrap was a neutral purple, shot through with silver threads.
'Watch the way the Mouse Police are polishing their whiskers. Bad weather coming. Besides, I heard the early weather report,' she confessed, grinning. 'Poor Bella finds storms very trying. I need to be with her.'
Belladonna is a very sleek, plump and self-satisfied black cat. I could not imagine her finding anything upsetting. I said so.
'She's very sensitive to the electricity in the air, poor creature. I have actually got a small shock from stroking her in really stormy conditions. No cat likes to have blue sparks shooting from her whiskers.'
'Not soignée,' I agreed. 'I wouldn't like it myself.'
Meroe was replaced with Mrs. Dawson, who always went for a walk in the early morning to appease her Puritan conscience, which thereafter let her lead the life of a sybarite. She slept in 'disgracefully late'. She lunched at amusing little cafes, she dined in Chinatown or at various clubs, and she deserved it all. She had been a society hostess for most of her life and now, as a widow, she got to please herself at last.
Her clothes, as always, were a poem. She wore light cotton khaki trousers and a top hand-printed with giraffes. I appreciated the giraffes as I put a loaf of the sourdough into her willow-leaf basket. As always, she gave me exact change.
'Really, the only time that one can walk without the danger of heatstroke,' she commented, 'is early in the morning, and even so I am disagreeably hot.'
'Meroe says there is a storm coming,' I offered.
'If Meroe says so, then there will be a storm.'
I stood in the blast from the air conditioner as Heckle prowled past me, intent on something in the lane. Then there was a scuffle, a cry, and a thud. Jason fetched down the first-aid kit.
'Oh, no! Has he got another one?' I asked, dismayed.
'He's got another one,' he replied. 'Go, kitty! We've got the only attack cat in the city.'
I sighed and sallied forth to comfort Heckle's latest victim.
It all started when the paperboy, doubtless filled with nameless malice, ran over Heckle's tail. This had meant a hasty trip to the vet, who had stroked the vertebrae into place but had been forced to amputate the top centimetre or so, which had been hopelessly crushed under the unforgiving wheels. Heckle had recovered completely in body, but his animal spirit, Meroe said, was outraged and required vengeance.
So he had gone out several times, seeking it. He favoured young men and only if they were running. His method was ingenious. He waited until he could see the whites of their sports shoes then, with a sinuous wriggle, inserted himself between the running ankles.
He had never failed to bring down his prey. It was costing us a packet in bandaids and apologies, but so far no one had accused Heckle of doing it on purpose. He would sidle back into the bakery with a look of malignant satisfaction plastered all over his whiskers and then observe the process of repairing the victim with a smug smile. I could not imagine what I was going to do about him.
Meroe had promised to appeal to his better nature but I was not at all sure that Heckle, an old streetfighter, actually had a better nature. Clearly that centimetre of missing tail had to be paid for in blood.
I found the latest revengee sitting on the kerb, looking dazed, and raised him by the arm, escorting him into the bakery and sitting him down on the cook's chair.
'I'm so sorry, are you hurt?'
'Just a bit of a scrape,' he murmured. 'Hey, Jason, is that your cat?'
'Rowan,' said Jason, looking a little abashed. 'Sorry about that! This is my boss, Corinna. This is Rowan, he's a music student, got the flat opposite me, just moved in.'
'They told me that the city would be full of adventures,' said Rowan. Nice boy. I examined him as I mopped gravel and blood off his skinned knees. Thin, young, knobby as to knee and elbow, still growing into his limbs, Grandma would say. Pleasantly blue eyes, thatch of mousy hair. Private school accent. Abused. One knows another. I remember challenging Therese Webb, our resident craftsperson, when she diagnosed a portrait as 'sick as a child'. It was Robert Louis Stevenson and she was right, but she couldn't tell me how she knew. Therese spent most of her childhood in bed with asthma. One knows another, she said. Well, I spent my childhood in the mud and cold being neglected by my hippie parents. Then I spent the rest of it at a very exclusive girls' school, being bullied unmercifully. One knows another.
But he showed no signs of wanting to kick Heckle, which was encouraging. As Auden said, 'those to whom evil is done do evil in return', but that was not necessarily the case. Some to whom evil is done resolve never to inflict such pain on anyone and become very good indeed.
Excerpted from Forbidden Fruit by Kerry Greenwood Copyright © 2010 by Kerry Greenwood. Excerpted by permission of Poisoned Pen Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Australia, small-business, friendship, family-dynamics, cosy-mystery The publisher's blurb is pretty good, but I really love the characters, especially those who live at Insula! It's what the characters say and do that make the books, plots are always important but if the characters don't worm their way into you it's just another read. Each book in the series can stand alone, but you miss some really great laughs. Reading in order is not really necessary.
Here's another in Greenwood's Corinna Chapman, the baker, series, which takes place in Melbourne, Australia. This time out it's almost Christmas and boiling hot in Australia. The overweight Corinna doesn't do heat, and she doesn't really like Christmas a whole lot either except for the fact that it makes her bakery loads of money. Plus, she's taking off the whole month of January from baking so a reward is coming. In the meantime, her lover Daniel is trying to find a missing pregnant teenage girl and her boyfriend. A group of "freegans" join in the search and add some spice to the novel. The suspense is not overwhelming, but there's a lot about baking. Recipes are included. I almost felt the need for a glossary to make some of the Australian terms intelligible to American readers. Otherwise, it's a serviceable entry in the Corinna Chapman series. A pleasant diversion.
I was lucky enough to get to read an ARC of this on my Kindle, courtesy of the US publishers Poisoned Pen Press, through NetGalley.For those who haven't yet made her acquaintance Corinna Chapman is an accountant turned baker who has a shop in Melbourne, just off Flinders' Lane.FORBIDDEN FRUIT is #5 in the Corinna Chapman series (you may already be aware of Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher series which also has a new title out this year).It is December in Melbourne, in the lead up to Christmas. As it often is at this time of the year, Melbourne is in the grip of a heatwave, with north wind days every day: hectic, invasive, dust-bearing wind like dragon's breath. Corinna and her assistant run a boutique bakery in the ground floor of an old building named, Roman style, Insula, with apartments in the floors above populated by a range of interesting/weird characters.Corinna's lover Daniel is searching for two young people, both 16 years old. Brigid O'Ryan is pregnant, near term, and she has disappeared with Manny Lake, an apprentice landscape gardener. They have been missing for 10 days, and Brigid's father has commissioned Daniel to find them. Manny's parents are bewildered by their son's disappearance.The search for the missing kids is literally a race against time, and brings them head-to-head with a sinister religious cult on a mission and a band of Romanies out for revenge. We meet most of the residents of Insula and get a glimpse of their close knit community.The Corinna Chapman books are light cosy reads, sure to be popular with those who like food with their mystery. In this one Corinna's talented assistant (and Corinna is no mean cook herself) is in search for the perfect recipe for glace cherries. Everyday their bakery "Earthly Delights" serves up a mouth watering range of muffins and breads. As always, in the final pages of the book, Corinna delivers some tried and true recipes for readers to try. The ones at the end of FORBIDDEN FRUIT are for glace cherries, Christmas cakes, Vegie delights, and variety of muffins. One of the things I think Kerry Greenwood gets right is a taste of Melbourne weather at this time of the year.
This is Greenwood's series set in present day Australia about a baker and her friends. The most interesting aspect of this series is the apartment building Insula and the various Roman and Greek names for each unit. The people that own or rent each unit are equally interesting: computer nerds, a witch, a baker, and many others. Animals play a dominant role in all the novels, and usually every unit has a cat or sometimes a dog. In this story, we have a modern Romeo and Juliet or Mary and Joseph scenario. Brigid and Manny are hiding from her father, and Brigid is in the last hours of her pregnancy. Daniel and Corinna must find them. Greenwood loves to display the strata of society in her novels and exposes the lowest level in the Corinna Chapman series. Daniel and Corinna go out at night for the soup run, where a local nun attempts to feed and assist the homeless. The story also mentions the vegans and freegans-two groups with restricted eating practices. Greenwood brings into this novel various religious groups such as the fanatic group of Brigid's mother and the group that hates witches and believes that water will dissolve a witch. Greenwood spent too much time describing Corinna's everyday tasks in this novel.
Christmas in Melbourne, Australia. Corinna Chapman hates it.She hates the heat, the humidity, the crowds of grumpy Christmas shoppers, and most especially, the inane Christmas "music" that seems to be broadcast everywhere.Daniel, Corinna's lover, has a case. He's searching for a pregnant teenager who has run away from her controlling, fundamentalist Christian parents. Although Daniel has been employed by the parents, he's determined that he won't force the girl to return to them against her will.As well as supplying baked goods for the greedy Christmas public (with the help of her able apprentice Jason, and shop-assitants Kylie and Gossamer), Corinna feels an obligation to help Daniel in his quest.Corinna's life is delightfully quirky, comfortable and eminently enviable. She lives in an 8-storey apartment building called Insula, with an motley group of residents who have become a family of sorts caring for and celebrating with each other, the perpetually peevish Mrs. Pemberthy excepted. She is a strong, independent woman who is comfortable being a size 20 (bakers shouldn't be skinny!), and more of her adventures are welcome.
Forbidden fruit by Kerry Greenwood Missing teen-agers, militant vegans, wandering donkeys . . . life is never dull in Insula. With all the distractions, it’s amazing Jason can concentrate on candied fruit and Christmas cakes, but he tries. The Lake family, caring for foster children in addition to their own, remind that “people . . . were doing the best they could every day, with scant help and no respect.” Between the heat and the problems, it’s easy to see why Corinna has trouble feeling Christmas spirit.
Another great read from Kerry Greenwood. Love the series.
Like a long running t v series these have layers strong leads and an equally interesting supporting cast it is in a city and in another country/regional specific it is not a police procedure though there are repeating characters a strong story will often take you into the darker side of the city but good does prevail and couple of characters are deeply religios one or two observant and a few more not a grand menu includes cats and other animals what's not to like? If i could get sutogrsph would buy a hard copy bread lover
While assisting her live-in boyfriend locate the pregnant, runaway daughter of an influential businessman and the suspected expectant father, baker and gourmand Corinna Chapman, slugging through interminable heat of Christmas season in Australia, manages to thwart the nefarious intentions of a rouge band of vegans, rescue her imprisoned beloved Daniel from a locked, abandoned warehouse, while nurturing the self-esteem of her apprentice Jason. Having survived an unpleasant childhood, Corinna presents a cheerful personality and quips her way with witticisms through mysteries as an amateur sleuth while she helps her boyfriend Daniel with his caseload. When not sleuthing, Corinna runs her own bakery where she is surrounded by a cast of colorful characters and neighbors whose lives entwine with hers and whom she protects with a fierce determination as she rights the wrongs that they encounter, all the while cooking and baking. Forbidden Fruit is great for the contemporary reader who enjoys an entertaining mystery where the sleuth is more ordinary than brilliant, the puzzle more intriguing than complicated, where the mystery is resolved with nary a dead body having been discovered. A select list of recipes is collected in an appendix for the foodies who might be interested in sampling authentic Australian cuisine. I look forward to following the future adventures of Corinna Chapman and her cronies as the wrangle their way out of mishaps and misunderstanding resolving a mystery or two along the way.
In Melbourne, while everyone seems to prepare for Christmas, Corinna Chapman says bah humbug to the holiday and to the heat gripping the city. However though she prefers to leave town, she and her assistant baker Jason get to work as the customers of Earthly Delights will be arriving soon. Meanwhile her boyfriend private investigator Daniel follows clues as he seeks two teen runaways. Late trimester Pregnant Brigid has fled her family with the help of Manny. He is helping her run from her family, who has been keeping her captive as part of the religious sect they belong to. Corinna assists Daniel as he search searches to no avail. The teenagers trust no one since Brigid's so called loved ones and their religious affiliation kept her incarcerated in their home. Then there are the enigmatic suits who seem everywhere the sleuth and baker are, but reveal nothing especially why they diligently seem to be after Brigid or Manny. With help from an eccentric crew to include his energetic girlfriend the baker, Daniel searches for the missing teens. The tone is set with a cast like Meroe the witch and Serena the donut eating donkey enabling the audience to see deep inside to the heart of the caring heroine. Readers will enjoy this entertaining investigative entry and its Aussie predecessors (see Trick or Treat) filled with food and sleuthing as eccentricity led by witty Corrine seems to be the wave in Melbourne. Harriet Klausner