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Virginia Rich

Virginia Rich, the creator of the Eugenia Potter mystery novels, was in her early sixties when she began writing mysteries. Rich was married to cattleman Ray Rich, and lived on a working cattle ranch near Tucson, Arizona. She also spent a number of months a year at her cottage off the coast of Maine.

Rich was born in Sibley, Iowa. She wrote a food column for the Chicago Tribune under the name of Mary Meade, and served as food editor for Sunset Magazine. Her Eugenia Potter character was an attractive widow and culinary sleuth, who also had a ranch in Arizona and spent time in a small coastal Maine town.

Rich completed three books prior to her death in 1985. The Cooking School Murders (1982), The Baked Bean Supper Murders (1983), and The Nantucket Diet Murders (1985) were a hit from the beginning. Her vivid description and unique characters helped her quickly gain readers with her first book. She developed a large following and loyal fans were saddened by her death at the age of seventy-one.

Several years after her death, Rich’s family approached novelist Nancy J. Pickard, asking her if she would complete an unfinished Eugenia Potter manuscript. Pickard was the author of the Jenny Cain novels, and more recently, the Marie Lightfoot series. Born in Kansas City, Missouri and raised in Kansas, Pickard also was a writer of small town stories.

The Rich family believed Pickard was the writer that could carry on the beloved character Rich had created. Pickard agreed to the challenge, and received several boxes of notes, character sketches, and plot lines. She sorted through the massive amount of material, and completed the manuscript. She later commented in an interview that finishing a novel someone else had started was difficult.

Pickard then wrote two more books using the characters and notes Rich had collected for future stories. The three Pickard books were The 27 Ingredient Chili Con Carne Murders (1993), The Blue Corn Murders (1998), and The Secret Ingredient Murders (2001).

The Rich/Pickard novels with Eugenia Potter as the extraordinary chef and crime-solver have provided readers with hours of enjoyment. All six books are filled with delicious recipes and interesting characters, and are still available for purchase.


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