posted on September 4, 2013 by Leslie Budewitz

Do you really live there?

Bay  BridgeMy first mystery, Death al Dente, first in the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, is set in Jewel Bay, Montana, a small lakeside resort village in the northwest corner of the state, on the road to Glacier Park. It’s a delightful community whose residents relish good food. They love growing it, making it, scouting out great products, cooking, and above all, sharing food—with customers, friends, family, and even dogs. Other locals paint or make pottery or jewelry, raise goats and spin, dye, and sell the yarn, stock quilting supplies, or search out the perfect kitchen items, handmade furniture, and antiques to offer in their village shops.

I must admit, though, that not every resident is kind and generous. Like every town, Jewel Bay’s got its curmudgeons—and the occasional killer

And yes, I really live there.

Since Death al Dente debuted a few weeks ago, readers have been asking me how I came up with this town. What’s my inspiration? A town so charming, they say, sounds right out of central casting for a New England village or a North Carolina hamlet. A place you’d expect to find around the next curve on the coast of Northern California, or over the next ridge in Ohio or Kentucky.

But Montana? Don’t you all wear cowboy boots, ride horses, and hike six miles in the snow before breakfast?

Well, yes. And no. Jewel Bay draws on a host of small towns in Montana, including the one we call home. (As Mr. Right points out, I had to change the name because, after all, I’m killing people off—and we don’t want to move!) It’s a surprising place. It’s a cozy place. And yes, some folks wear cowboy boots. Others wear hiking boots. Some wear clogs, or flip-flops. Hardly anyone wears designer shoes—unless they’re dressing up for the Playhouse or a party. Oh, do we know how to party! Plus we’ve got great summer theater, and community theater in the winter. A world-renowned guitar festival in late summer and music of all genres all year round. And great art and food. Deer, elk, and other wildlife play nearby. We’ve got amazing mountain trails for horseback riding and hiking, rivers and lakes for all kinds of boating, a top-notch golf course, skiing, the Bob Marshall Wilderness, and Glacier National Park—all just a stone’s throw from the Village. Careful as you drive in, though—that really is a one-lane bridge crossing the river where it meets the bay.

Come visit. All you have to do is sit in your favorite chair and turn the pages.

Just be sure to bring your appetite.

Untitled-4Death al Dente

The town of Jewel Bay, Montana—known as the Food Lovers’ Village—is obsessed with homegrown and homemade Montana fare. So when Erin Murphy takes over her family’s century-old general store, she turns it into a boutique market filled with local delicacies. But Erin’s freshly booming business might turn rotten when a former employee turns up dead…

Murphy’s Mercantile, known as the Merc, has been a staple in Jewel Bay for over a hundred years. To celebrate their recent makeover as a gourmet food market, Erin has organized a town festival, a Festa di Pasta, featuring the culinary goods of Jewel Bay’s finest—including her mother Fresca’s delicious Italian specialties.  

But Erin’s sweet success is soured when the shop’s former manager, Claudette, is found dead behind the Merc on the Festa’s opening night. With rival chef James Angelo stirring up trouble and rumors swirling that Fresca’s sauce recipes were Leslie-WEB-Colorstolen from Claudette, Erin’s mother is under close scrutiny. Now Erin will have to hunt down some new suspects, or both her family and her store might wind up in hot water…

Includes fresh, delicious recipes!

Visit Leslie—and read an excerpt of Death al Dente, or check out the recipes—on her website,, or join her on Facebook at

Leslie Budewitz

Leslie Budewitz

Leslie Budewitz blends her passion for food, great mysteries, and her native Montana in The Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. New York Times best-selling mystery writer Sofie Kelly calls it “A delicious new series.” Award-winning author Hank Phillippi Ryan says of Death al Dente, first in the series, “Clever, charming and completely yummy.”

Leslie is also a lawyer. She graduated from Notre Dame Law School, practiced in Seattle for several years, then returned to Montana, where she still practices civil litigation and employment law. Her first book, Books, Crooks & Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure, won the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction and was nominated for the 2012 Anthony and Macavity awards.

A true believer in the power of writers helping other writers, Leslie is an active member of Sisters in Crime and is a founding member of the SinC chapter for new and unpublished writers, the Guppies. She is also a member of Mystery Writers of America, the Authors of the Flathead, and Montana Women Writers.

Leslie loves to cook, eat, hike, travel, garden, and paint—not necessarily in that order. She lives in northwest Montana with her husband, Don Beans, a musician, writer, and doctor of natural medicine, and their Burmese cat, Ruff, an avid bird watcher.

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