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Add Cyanide to Taste
Karmen Spiljak. Spiljak, $10.99 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-65-00-26388-6
The 14 well-crafted culinary noir stories in Spiljak’s debut collection efficiently establish character and mood. While many are traditional narratives, the star of this feast is “The Collectors,” which recounts its ominous plot through a series of email exchanges. The opening banter between two friends turns darker with the reveal that a member of their academic team researching Neolithic mass graves has gone missing in the same Austrian location that a journalist disappeared from years earlier, both possibly as the result of food tampering by one or more persons seeking to preserve some deadly secrets. Another high point is “Dark Velvet,” which follows its effective opening tease (“All families have their secrets; ours has a curse. We rarely bring it up but it continues to exist in the shadows”) with a twisted story involving a cake recipe rumored to require human blood as an ingredient. Crime fiction readers who are also foodies will appreciate the recipe section following the stories, prefaced with the tongue-in-cheek warning, “please don’t add cyanide to any of the dishes.” Fans of Rob Hart’s Take-Out and Other Tales of Culinary Crime will feel sated. (Self-published)

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on 01/21/2022

Release date 09/01/2021