When a romantic rival
opens a competing restaurant in small-town Wheaton, Alabama, Sarah Blair
discovers murder is the specialty of the house.
For someone whose greatest
culinary skill is ordering takeout, Sarah never expected to be co-owner of a restaurant.
Even her Siamese cat, RahRah, seems to be looking at her differently. But while
Sarah and her twin sister, Chef Emily, are tangled up in red tape waiting for
the building inspector to get around to them, an attention-stealing new
establishment—run by none other than Sarah’s late ex-husband’s mistress,
Jane—is having its grand opening across the street.
Jane’s new sous chef,
Riley Miller, is the talk of Wheaton with her delicious vegan specialties. When
Riley is found dead outside the restaurant with Sarah’s friend, Jacob, kneeling
over her, the former line cook—whose infatuation with Riley was no
secret—becomes the prime suspect. Now Sarah must turn up the heat on the real
culprit, who has no reservations about committing cold-blooded murder . . .
Debra Goldstein furthers the character
development of protagonist Sarah Blair in Three
Treats Too Many. Far from the naïve character in One Taste Too Many, Sarah is once again drawn into a case of
murder. But it doesn’t have anything to do with her family or her ex. This time
she’s defending a friend from a murder charge with the help of her cat, RahRah,
and new puppy, Fluffy. Observing their behavior provides insight to human
Secondary characters from the
first two books make appearances and enhance the cast of characters. Eloise,
the older woman whose boss was killed at the bank in the last book, is now a
strong councilwoman contending with the aggressive Anne Hightower, now a
mayoral candidate. Sarah’s mother, Maybelle, contrasts
to Eloise. Jane, Sarah’s ex’s bimbo (her words not mine) finally gets a
comeuppance, and yet, she’ll probably survive to be a pain for another day.
The Sarah Blair mystery series
is a continuing pleasure to read. My interviews with Debra about her first two
books can be found here and here. Stop by our comments page to leave Debra a message
or ask a question. E. B. Davis
In an effort to get commerce in
from nearby Birmingham, AL, the Wheaton council rejected an Entertainment
district in favor of mixed-use zoning. Jane’s Place restaurant is next to a
veterinary clinic. Has the council traded one set of problems for another?
No question about that. In the earlier books in the Sarah
Blair series, I promoted the concept of an Entertainment District to introduce
the pros and cons of economic development and what might be the driving force
behind different opinions on the subject. In Three Treats Too Many, by having the mixed-use zoning concept
adopted, I was able to explore some of the problems that may occur when
competing interests are involved.
When Jane’s Place opens before
Southwind Restaurant, Sarah’s twin Emily and her partner Marcus’s
establishment, everyone in the neighborhood goes to the opening. Sarah’s
associates are checking out the competition. Have
you known those in the restaurant business? Is there friendly competition
between them? I’ve heard that it can be a cut-throat business due to low profit
margins. So, I wonder if friendly is saying too much.
Birmingham, Alabama, where I live, has become known as a
foodie city. Although there is some rivalry and dislike between some restaurant
owners, that would probably be the case if these individuals owned similar
businesses in another field. Many of our
chefs, at some point, trained under our James Beard winners and then went out
on their own. My observation of those individuals, and their subsequent
disciples, is that they respect and support each other. In Three Treats Too Many, the days of Sarah and Jane being friends is
long gone, but it isn’t only because of the restaurant competition between
Jane, Emily, Marcus, and now Sarah.
Because the veterinarians are
also in a motorcycle club and they have a parking lot, many members of the club
park their bikes there. Wouldn’t they have to get permission to do so from the
council to do so?
I don’t think so. Although it appears that a lot of the town belongs
to this social motorcycle club,
there are only a limited number of bikes being
parked on a pad on the side of the veterinary practice’s building. The riders
aren’t congregating, demonstrating, holding meetings or rallies, or doing
anything else that would require a permit. They aren’t even taking up space in
the actual parking lot. Besides, Wheaton is a small town where the way it is
sometimes takes precedence over the way it should be.
Is Birmingham a big biker area?
To my knowledge, Birmingham has its share of bikers, but no
more than other urban areas. What it does have, according to Guinness World
Records, is the world’s largest motorcycle collection housed at the Barber
Vintage Motorsports Museum. Visits to the museum, a friend who also is a
motorcycle collector, two teachers I met, who did not meet my stereotyped image
of a biker, and a local group that does charity rides sparked me to write the motorcycle
club into Three Treats Too Many.
Botts and the first murder
victim, Riley Miller, a young chef, have a romantic relationship that seems to
be floundering. Sarah sees similarities between them and her puppy, Fluffy, and
her cat, RahRah’s relationship. What is it that Sarah sees?
RahRah, like Botts, demonstrates alpha male characteristics.
They are both in control, not always kind, and put their own pleasure/desires
ahead of the feelings of others. Riley and Fluffy are quite capable, but they
become subservient in the hopes of pleasing Botts and RahRah. It is this
behavior pattern that Sarah observes. Although she thinks it is amusing
watching Fluffy be dominated by RahRah, she finds the same pattern in Riley and
What Sarah sees contradicts what
people have told her about Riley, who was a flirt and used men for her own
gain. Is Botts more of a user than Riley?
They are users in different ways. Botts is showier and maybe
even a little shady, but both are direct in going after what they want.
Sarah is no fan of Acting Chief
Dwayne Gerard. She is surprised that her boss, Harlan Endicott, a lawyer, and
Gerard act like friends. Is Harland “keeping his friends close and his enemies
closer?” Or has Harlan developed a respect and friendship with Gerard?
Sometimes, people who don’t see eye to eye on things still
find it is more politic to interact with each other. Harlan is a straight arrow
who uses the law to help others. He also, except maybe with Jacob, is a good
judge of character. Knowing that Chief Gerard can be a bit lazy or jump to
conclusions before all the facts are in, he has learned that he can temper
things by using honey rather than coming at Gerard in an attack mode. Harlan
also is good at indirectly suggesting ideas that the chief carries out as if
they are his own.
The vegan dishes that Riley
makes take top honors at Jane’s Place and draws in customers. Is the vegan diet
Just as there are many people who follow the Keto diet or
eat gluten free, a good segment of the population embraces the vegan diet. In
this case, Riley’s dishes are a novelty on the menu, but once people sample
them, they want more.
Because her friend Jacob is the
top suspect in Riley’s murder, Sarah agrees to investigate. Why?
Throughout the Sarah Blair mystery series, the overarching
theme is loyalty and caring for family and friends. Jacob is her friend and
even though she isn’t sure, especially as different facts come to light, that
he is innocent, she won’t allow him to be railroaded if Chief Gerard’s focus is
only on Jacob. The other reason she agrees to investigate is because Anne and
Eloise ask her to. Sarah feels a loyalty to Eloise and although she doesn’t
trust Anne not to manipulate her, she respects Anne’s desire to protect her
Does Sarah always count objects
to divert her attention from something ghastly?
If she does, it isn’t a conscious thing. All she knows when
she confronts something ghastly is that she must let her mind wander, or the
situation will be too much for her to emotionally handle.
What is Rolling Thunder? Do
motorcycle clubs still participate or has it been disbanded?
Rolling Thunder is an advocacy organization. It seeks full
accountability for prisoners of war and individuals missing in action. The
organization has chapters which carry out the group’s mission and do charitable
events. In 1988, as a First Amendment protest, the Rolling Thunder event was
created. Through 2019, at least two hundred thousand motorcyclists gathered
each Memorial Day weekend to ride a designated path from the Pentagon parking
lot around the D.C. Mall area. Problems with extra security needs and
limitations imposed near the Pentagon led to the ride’s official demise;
however, with a different sponsor, the event, or one similar, is planned for
Do military dogs often end up
with PTSD? Is there treatment for them?
"By some estimates, more than 5 percent of the
approximately 650 military dogs deployed by American combat forces are
developing canine PTSD. Of those, about half are likely to be retired from
service.” As canine post traumatic syndrome has become more recognized,
treatment therapies used include vigorous play, love, downtime, and
desensitization counterconditioning. If a dog cannot be rehabilitated at its
home base within three months, the dog is assigned to other duties or
discharged from the service.
Jacob’s sister Anne is on the
Wheaton town council and is running for mayor. Sarah and Anne have never gotten
on well. How does Anne manipulate Sarah? How will Sarah defend herself?
Anne manipulates by words and playing on Sarah’s emotions. Highly
intelligent, Anne can whip out an idea that Sarah agrees with in principle and
before Sarah knows it, Sarah is the one doing the behind the scenes work while
Anne gets the glory. When readers meet Sarah in One Taste Too Many, she lacks confidence in herself. She was
married at eighteen, divorced by twenty-eight, and the only thing she got out
of the marriage was RahRah, her Siamese cat. Although never physically abused,
Sarah’s ex-husband mentally abused her to a point that after the divorce Sarah
questions the correctness of everything she does. Anne, demonstrating some of
the same riding roughshod traits as Sarah’s ex-husband, is able to take
advantage of Sarah’s instinctive docile reaction to box Sarah into doing things
Sarah really doesn’t want to do, but as Sarah regains her sense of self-worth
in Two Bites Too Many and Three Treats Too Many, she finds it in
herself to stand up to Anne or at least
to mentally be ready for Anne – up to a point.
Sarah is going out with Cliff. She
questions his relationship with Riley. He explains, but he makes a point of
saying that he would only justify his actions in this one instance. Does that
mean they aren’t in an exclusive relationship? Not sure if this is a good sign
Cliff has issues in his background that make acting in a trustworthy
and honest manner important to him. Sarah, because of her treatment by her
ex-husband, has problems trusting. Consequently, when she questions his
relationship with Riley, her questions come from her inner fear that neither
Cliff nor anyone is what they seem, while Cliff reacts as he does because he
believes a relationship implies trust. Although both may want an exclusive
relationship, their emotions may preclude it from being with each other.
After Riley’s death, Jane asks
Grace, Emily’s younger chef, to become a chef at her restaurant. Grace refuses
Jane’s offer. Why does Sarah think it could be Grace’s motive for murder?
Sarah tries to find a motive for everyone, other than Jacob,
to have killed Riley. Sarah thinks Grace may be too guilty to take the job or
have done it, but wants to demonstrate a loyalty to Emily and Marcus so that
when she finally takes the job, no one will suspect her hands are dirty.
When Sarah and Harlan walk dogs
at the shelter, Sarah finds out the Jacob lied to him. But Sarah lies to
Harlan, too. She claims not to have known that Jacob and Riley dated in the
past, but Mandy and Grace just told her that they did. Why did Sarah lie to
That lie may have been an author mistake or that Sarah
believes her conversation with Mandy and Grace had an element of
confidentiality to it. She also may believe she can learn more, for her amateur
sleuthing, by leaving the door open for Harlan to talk.
Most defense attorneys know that
some of their clients are guilty. Why is Harlan so distraught about Jacob being
Harlan is a small-town lawyer with a big firm brain. No
matter what kind of case he is handling, he does the best job he can for his
client. But, as I previously mentioned, he is a straight-shooter and he expects
that when he deals with other people. It’s not Jacob’s innocence or guilt that
upsets Harlan, but the fact that Jacob lied to him.
Is Sarah interested in Dr.
Glenn? She seems relieved that Carole turns out to be his sister.
Yes. But Sarah is disturbed by her interest in him because
of her relationship with Cliff. She can’t understand how she can be in a
relationship with one person but feel excitement about another.
Is it the other’s smell that
repels cats and dogs? I didn’t know that.
In doing research about the relationship between cats and
dogs for Two Bites Too Many, I came
upon that tidbit and it stuck in my head until it founds its way into Three Treats Too Many. Its true accuracy
hasn’t been proven, but it is recommended that a dog and cat be introduced to
each other very slowly to give them time to establish a relationship built on
Why does Harlan second guess
Sarah? Will she ever tell him off? Will he ever tell her he loves her?
Harlan doesn’t really second guess Sarah, he simply doesn’t
want Sarah to get hurt. Consequently, he believes she should leave any
investigating to the proper authorities – Chief Gerard or him. Harlan gave her
an opportunity to work, recognizing her lack of skills and confidence. In his
own way, he helped nurture her personal growth between books 1 and 3, but he
doesn’t want to rush her or take advantage of their relationship – again, trust
comes into play. When he tries to make the slightest move, she is torn, but her
decision not to jeopardize her job overrides any interest in having a
relationship while she works for him.
What’s next for Sarah, RahRah,
I’m excited about Three
Treats Too Many and the many opportunities for character growth that it
leaves open. I enjoy introducing new scenes and new characters. Book 4 in the
series, Four Cuts Too Many, has
already been turned in and will be out in June 2021. Still set in Wheaton, it
will take a wider look at the Carleton Junior College campus. There will be
another book in the series out in 2022.