Wednesday, December 13, 2017



Lee’s Uncle Tío is smitten with the guest chef at a Silicon Valley culinary arts institute. When the woman is arrested for the murder of a fellow chef, a reluctant Lee agrees to help prove Tío’s lady love innocent. But Lee suspects the ambitious, southern belle of a cook might just be guilty. Undercover work at the institute proves to have more pitfalls than whipping up a chocolate soufflé. The killer isn’t done and tries to get Lee out of the way permanently. But just who is the murderer? The accused? One of her two sons? Another inmate from a cooking school with more to hide than dirty dishes? With secrets as plentiful  as sauces, the nagging question remains, if Lee proves the lady chef guilty, will Tío ever forgive her for sending his new love to jail?


Lee Alvarez grew up wanting to be a ballerina. Unfortunately, fate had other plans. At 5’8” she was considered tall for the profession, but more than that, she was a mediocre dancer, at best. She knew if she pursued a career in ballet, she would be relegated to the back line of the chorus. What she was, however, was a crackerjack ferret. She can find anything or anybody just by putting together the facts, no matter how long ago they took place. As the family-run business is Discretionary Inquiries, Inc. an agency specializing in cybercrimes, it was a natural fit. And she loves her job. But solving cybercrimes isn’t all she does. Lee tends to fall over dead bodies when she’s not looking. She hates that.


Lee, how did you first meet your Heather? 

I was minding my own business, thinking about something or other – probably a shoe sale – when I felt this ‘pull.’ I looked up from my mocha macchiato and this woman, we—know—who,  was staring at me over her latte. You never know who you’re going to see in Starbucks these days.

How true is that. Want to dish about her?
Nah, Heather’s okay. Besides, she’d probably pay me back by putting me on a sinking boat. Even though I can swim, I have this shark thing.

Why do you think that your life has ended up being in a book?
Just my luck. Actually, I’m pretty lucky. Maybe I ended up in this book because the author wanted to show a family of immigrants who made good, who may not get each other all the time, but work their darndest at it, and love each other no matter what happens. She thinks we’re one of the American success stories. You can’t beat that type of good fortune.

Did you have a hard time convincing Heather to write any particular scenes for you?
I spend a lot of my time trying to convince her NOT to write particular scenes for me. I mean thank you very much, but she’s not the one who has to dance in a lizard lounge act in Vegas or shinny over a sailboat’s boom in the middle of the Pacific or as in this book, disguise herself as a dishwasher in a cooking school for eight-hours a day wearing a stupid wig and buckteeth.

What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?
I like to play with my cats and my husband, Gurn. Not necessarily in that order.

If you could rewrite anything in your book, what would it be?
Honestly? Not a thing. I suspect it has the right amount of humor, drama, plot, suspense, and action. Anyway, that’s what Heather told me.

Tell the truth. What do you think of your fellow characters?
As most of the continuing characters are my family, thank gawd I like them. My brother, Richard, is the head of IT. He’s a brainiac, but in that techy, nerdy sort of way. And he’s a good guy. Besides, he married Vicki, who gives the Alvarez family a lot of heart. They recently had a baby, my niece, Stephanie. Then there’s Tío, my uncle, retired executive chef of San Jose’s famed Las Mañanitas Restaurant. Everyone should have a Tío in their lives. He gives unconditional love while serving up the best chimichangas ever. My mother, Lila Hamilton Alvarez, believes what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom is our ability to accessorize. She’s also the CEO of the family business, Discretionary Inquires. Everyone else calls it D. I. Not Mom. She would rather eat broken glass than use initials or nicknames. And do not even think about wearing navy blue with black at any time. You will live to regret it. Behind her back, I call her She Who Must Be Obeyed. We may be poles apart on nearly everything in the world, but we are quite fond of one another. I guess it’s that mother/daughter thing.

Do you have any secret aspirations that your author doesn’t know about?
I would like to play the ukulele. But don’t let that get around the neighborhood.

Understandable. Tell us about your best friend.
My best friend is my husband, Gurn Hanson. Maybe that’s why I married him. Yes, he’s got green-grey eyes, a lop-sided smile that just sends shivers through me, but he’s also an ex-navy SEAL, one of the good guys. And he gets me. He brings out the best in me. I tell him everything. He says I bring out the best in him, too. Pretty win-win.

What are you most afraid of?
Sometimes I’m afraid it all might go away. I work really hard to see that it doesn’t, but there are no guarantees in life. Just do your best and hold on tight.

What’s the best trait of another character in the book?
Best: Lila Hamilton Alvarez, my mother, is probably the most perfect woman in the world. She is smart, beautiful, savvy, and never has a bad hair day.
Least: See above.

How do you feel about your life right now? What, if anything, would you like to change?
I wouldn’t change a thing! Not that I have it all, I don’t. But I do have a great job, except when Heather has me chasing the bad guy over rooftops. I have a wonderful, loving family, and I’ve been married for four months to a guy who thinks I’m about as great as I know he is. I even lost two pounds. I mean it doesn’t get much better than that.

Will you encourage Heather to write a sequel?
Could I stop her? Heather’s got a few things going now,  Curtain Call For A Corpse (working title), Book Seven of the Alvarez Family Mystery Series. Then there’s the spin-off Lee Alvarez Novellas based on just Gurn and me. The one out now is called Honeymoons Can Be Murder. She’s working on Marriage Can Be Murder. Let’s face it, she keeps me hopping!


Multi-award winning author, Heather Haven, writes humorous, noir, historical, and romantic mysteries, short stories, and plays. The San Francisco Book Review writes of her Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries set in today’s Silicon Valley, “I found the strongest part . . . is Lee Alvarez herself: strong, competent, and witty, in a growing tradition of tough female detectives . . . All in all, this is a strong work in the genre of the mystery/thriller.” Heather and her husband of thirty-five years are allowed to live in the foothills of San Jose with their two adorable but demanding cats.

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