Character Name: Helene Greenberg
Tell us a little bit about yourself--both something we learn from the Cape Cod Foodie mysteries and something that readers might not guess.
Sure! My name is Helene Greenberg. For 25 years, I was a legal psychologist with the Manhattan DA’s office, where I evaluated countless people facing criminal charges. When I retired, I moved to the town of Fair Harbor on the Cape, where I’m now a librarian, a job I much prefer. My next-door neighbor, Samantha Barnes, the Cape Cod Foodie, says I am like no other librarian you ever met. Perhaps. Who am I to say? I am 60-ish with a mane of curly silver hair that I don’t even try to tame, a penchant for t-shirts that say things like “Don’t judge my journey,” and very little tolerance for fools.
What you might not guess is that I am a dog whisperer. Sam’s ginormous dog, Diogi (as in D-O-G, get it?) pretty much listens to nobody (particularly not to Sam). But me, he wuvs. Me, he obeys. Here’s a little excerpt (told from Sam’s point of view) from the latest Cape Cod Foodie mystery, MURDER IS NO PICNIC, if you don’t believe me:
We settled ourselves around the table, and I introduced Diogi, who obligingly offered Clara his paw, a new trick he’d learned from our neighbor Helene. Diogi wuvs Helene and will do anything for her. Not so much me. Me, he pretty much ignores.
How did you first meet your writer?
I first met my writer in A SIDE OF MURDER, the first of the Cape Cod Foodie mysteries. It was then that I also first met Sam, a disgraced but resilient ex-chef who had retreated home to Cape Cod, where she found herself juggling a new job as the local paper’s “Cape Cod Foodie,” a complicated love life, a posse of just-slightly-odd friends (which apparently includes me), a falling-down house, a ginormous puppy and a propensity for falling over dead bodies. And for solving crime.
Want to dish about him/her?
Sure. I love to dish! If I do say so myself (being a figment of her imagination so to speak), Amy’s led quite an interesting life. She’s an unapologetic cheerleader for Cape Cod, where she has spent almost every summer of her life sailing, swimming, and, of course, eating! She’s lived in both Rome and New York and was a book editor, a restaurant reviewer and a journalist before leading employee communications at a global bank. A few years ago (with the final college tuition bill paid!), she waved goodbye to Wall Street to write full time (and spend more time sailing on the Cape!).
Also, let the truth be known: Amy Pershing is just an okay cook. But she is an absolutely dedicated foodie. And, in the immortal words of Julia Child, “People who love to eat are always the best people.”
Why do you think that your life has ended up being in a book?
My writer seemed to think Sam needed a more, shall we say, mature influence in her life. Someone who would repeatedly tell her to be “very, very careful.” Not that she ever listens. (Unlike Diogi.) Here’s how Sam describes our relationship in MURDER IS NO PICNIC: I’d also made a trusted friend of Helene, who, as a former police psychologist, was very good at reassuring me that I was not crazy. At least not all the time.
Who's your favorite character? Why?
It’s got to be Sam. Or maybe Diogi. In my mind, they’re kind of inseparable.
Who's your least favorite character? Why?
Anybody who threatens Sam or Diogi in any way.
What's next for you?
That would be telling! But I think you can rest assured that I will continue to tell Sam to be very, very careful and Sam will continue to ignore my counsel.
About Murder is No Picnic
The Fourth of July is coming, and for professional food lover Samantha Barnes, it’s all about the picnic. Okay, and the fireworks. And the parade. But mostly the picnic. What could be better than a DIY clambake followed by the best blueberry buckle in the world? Sam has finally found the perfect recipe in the kitchen of Clara Foster, famed cookbook author and retired restaurateur, and she’s thrilled when Clara agrees to a buckle baking lesson.
But when Clara dies in a house fire blamed on carelessness in the kitchen, Sam doesn’t believe it. Unfortunately, her doubts set in motion an investigation pointing to the new owner of Clara’s legendary restaurant—and a cousin of Sam’s harbormaster boyfriend. So, in between researching the Cape’s best lobster rolls and planning her clambake, Sam needs to find Clara's killer before the fireworks really start....
About Amy Pershing
Amy Pershing, who spent every summer of her childhood on Cape Cod, was an editor, a restaurant reviewer and a journalist before leading employee communications at a global bank. A few years ago she waved goodbye to Wall Street to write full time. Murder Is No Picnic is the third of the Cape Cod Foodie mysteries featuring Samantha Barnes, a disgraced but resilient ex-chef who retreats home to Cape Cod where she finds herself juggling a new job as the local paper’s “Cape Cod Foodie,” a complicated love life, a posse of just-slightly-odd friends, a falling-down house, a ginormous dog and a propensity for falling over dead bodies. Elizabeth Gilbert called the first book in the series, A Side of Murder, “the freshest, funniest mystery I have ever read,” and Kirkus Reviews gave the second book, An Eggnog to Die For, a starred review, saying, “A delightful sleuth, a complex mystery, and lovingly described cuisine: a winner for both foodies and mystery mavens.”