When researching a novel, we run
across all sorts of eclectic information. One of the things that popped out at
me in writing my latest title, Styled for Murder, concerned edible gold.
Did people really eat this metal?
Apparently so. It’s a popular food condiment in forms such as gold dust, gold crumbles, and gold leaf. An inert metal, it passes straight through the digestion system. But how do you get from gold bars to edible gold flakes?
My hairstylist sleuth, Marla Vail, travels to Naples, Florida to interview a manufacturer. While learning about the production process, she subtly questions the man about his ex-wife. The actress figures prominently into a murder she’s investigating that implicates her own stepfather.
The manufacturer explains how he melts the gold along with silver and copper. This combination makes it easier to produce gold leaf. The molten gold alloy is poured into a square mold. These squares go through rollers where they’re pressed into thin sheets. The sheets are then sandwiched between layers of special plastic to be compressed into thinner widths and longer strips. The next stage is to pound the alloy until it reaches a certain thinness. This means gold leaf is essentially gold that has been stretched thin.
Caterers might buy jars of gold flakes, shakers of gold crumbs, jars of gold powder, and boxes of gold sheets to decorate their foods, but gold doesn’t only have edible properties. It’s been touted as an anti-aging factor in cosmetics, although there aren’t any true health benefits.
Excerpt from Styled for Murder
Marla transferred a smoked salmon roll with rice and avocado to her plate. It was coated with gold beads. “Is this safe to eat?” she asked, lifting a fork.
“Yes, it’s quite all right. Haven’t you heard of edible gold?” Davinia’s eyes crinkled with mirth.
“Not really.” Marla didn’t socialize in the circles where they served such things.
“My former husband learned about it when he was stationed overseas in the army. After Craig came home, he started a manufacturing business in Naples. He says gold is biologically inert and doesn’t break down during digestion.”
“Oh, lovely.” Marla had a distasteful image of the results, especially when she pictured one of Ryder’s diapers with gold flake deposits.
Erasing that image from her mind, she took a tentative bite of the sushi roll. The beads tasted similar to those gelatinous pearls in fancy drinks. They had no flavor but were smooth on her tongue.
She passed on the other items. One piece was topped with a translucent white food and sprinkled with gold dust. Was that raw fish? She’d stick to the smoked salmon as a safer bet. Even the turkey mini wraps with fresh raspberries were decorated with gold crumbles. How bizarre. And how typical of the elite who went all out to impress their friends.
Anyway, she wasn’t here to discuss food, she told herself as she added cream to her cup of coffee and took a sip. At least the drinks hadn’t come with gold sprinkles.
How could she bring the conversation around to the questions she needed answered about Brad and the manager? She’d better start before they got interrupted. Davinia would still have to make final arrangements for her brother, unless she’d passed that duty along to Oscar.
The woman had shown few signs of grief during their conversation so far. Was she glad her brother was gone? Or was she still numb and suppressing her sadness through social niceties?
Marla will learn more when she visits the ex-husband at his manufacturing plant. Is edible gold something you might want to sprinkle on the desserts at your next party?
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About Styled for Murder
Hairstylist Marla Vail flushes out a killer when murder disrupts her mother’s home renovation plans in this stylish cozy mystery.
When hairstylist and savvy sleuth, Marla Vail, gets a frantic call from her mother that there’s a dead body in her shower, Marla realizes this wasn’t part of the home renovation plans. The victim turns out to be the project manager, who had an untrustworthy reputation in town. Disgruntled customers, unpaid suppliers, and the design company’s staff are among the suspects. Which one of them wanted the foreman to pipe down about their shady dealings?
Meanwhile, the lead investigator sets his sights on Marla’s stepfather, Reed, who’s keeping secrets from his family. Reed has a past connection to the victim and won’t come clean about what he knows. As Marla drills deeper, she’s showered with suspicions, but nobody’s willing to leak any information. She needs to hammer down the prospects, or time will drain away and the murderer will strike again.
To flush out the culprit, Marla taps into her pipeline of resources. Can she assemble the clues and demolish the alibis to nail a killer? Or has someone designed the perfect murder?
About Nancy J. Cohen
Nancy J. Cohen writes the Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail. Titles in this series have been named Best Cozy Mystery by Suspense Magazine, won a Readers’ Favorite gold medal and a RONE Award, placed first in the Chanticleer International Book Awards and third in the Arizona Literary Awards. Her nonfiction titles, Writing the Cozy Mystery and A Bad Hair Day Cookbook, have also garnered numerous awards, including the FAPA President’s Book Award and the Royal Palm Literary Award. Active in the writing community, Nancy is a past president of Florida Romance Writers and Mystery Writers of America, Florida Chapter. When not busy writing, she enjoys reading, fine dining, cruising, and visiting Disney World.