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Sadie Hoffmiller has survived eighteen months of nonstop adventures filled with murder, deceit, and danger. She could really use some rest—and maybe even some time to heal—relaxing in the tropical paradise of Kaua'i. However, palm trees and sunshine are not as effective a medication as Sadie had hoped. And when she finds herself entangled—literally—with a dead body, she is forced to face the compounding fears and anxieties that are making her life so difficult to live.
Her determination to stay out of danger and to focus on overcoming her anxieties soon takes a backseat when she meets eleven-year-old Charlie, the son of the woman whose body she discovered near Anahola Beach. Charlies has some questions of his own about what happened to his mother, and he is convinced that only Sadie can help him. If only Sadie were as confident in her abilities as Charlie is.
With the help of her best friend and a local social worker, Sadie dives into another mystery with the hope that, at the end, she'll be able to find the peace and closure that has eluded her.
- Size: 5½ x 8
- Pages: 368
- Released: 02/2012
- Book on CD: Unabridged
- Number of discs: 8
- Run Time: Approx. 10 hrs.
About the Author
Josi S. Kilpack grew up hating to read until she was thirteen and her mother handed her a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond. From that day forward, she read everything she could get her hands on and credits her writing “education” to the many novels she has “studied” since then. She began her first novel in 1998 and hasn’t stopped since. Her seventh novel, Sheep’s Clothing, won the 2007 Whitney Award for Mystery/Suspense, and Lemon Tart, her ninth novel, was a 2009 Whitney Award Finalist. Baked Alaska is Josi’s eighteenth novel and the ninth book in the Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery series.
Josi currently lives in Willard, Utah, with her wonderful husband, four amazing children, one fat dog, and a varying number of very happy chickens.
You snorkel before?”
Sadie looked up from adjusting her life jacket. Konnie was the last woman, other than herself, still in the small boat that had taken them to where the snorkeling was nani—Sadie hoped nani meant wonderful and not deadly.
“Years ago,” Sadie said. “In Waikiki, when my children were younger.”
“I’m not sure that even counts,” Konnie said with a tinkling laugh. Her wide smile fit perfectly on her round face. Her black hair was in one long braid down her back. “Everyone knows O’ahu has the worst snorkeling in the islands. Kaua’i is amazing. Lots of beautiful coral.”
“I can’t wait,” Sadie said, but her tone was flat. She was still trying to figure out why she’d come today. She didn’t like boats or sand or swimsuits, and she wondered if she’d accepted Konnie’s invitation simply because she’d refused most of the other invites Konnie had extended on behalf of the Blue Muumuus, a group of local older women similar to the Red Hat Society Sadie had seen in her hometown of Garrison, Colorado.
“The weather is perfect today,” Konnie continued. “And the tide is just right. You won’t believe the variety of fish you’ll be able to see.”
Sadie nodded, peering over the side of the boat with trepidation. The water was clear enough that she could make out the shape of the coral beneath the shifting surf, and she shivered, thinking about that hidden, undersea world. Coming to Kaua’i was supposed to cure the anxiety that had overwhelmed her after what had happened in Boston, but despite spending three months in a tropical paradise, Sadie was no better off than she’d been before. Only more isolated.
When Sadie had come to Hawai’i with her children ten years ago, she hadn’t been a big fan of being in the ocean, but the displeasure she’d felt then was nothing like what she felt now. Sadie swallowed her fear and forced a smile, determined not to let her anxiety get the best of her in front of the woman who was trying so hard to be her friend.
Konnie lived a few houses away from the condominium complex where Sadie was staying, and she didn’t care that Sadie was a haole—Caucasian—or malihini—a newcomer—to an island not always welcoming to mainlanders. Konnie was big and loud and wonderful in every way, which Sadie found a little bit scary. Well, everything seemed a little bit scary to Sadie right now.
“You ready?” Konnie asked.
“It’ll be fun,” Sadie lied. They were about a quarter mile off the north shore near Anahola. The drive from the inland town of Puhi, where Sadie was staying, would have been beautiful if Sadie had been able to focus. But she wasn’t used to leaving her condo these days and felt nervous whenever she stepped out the door.
“I’m going in,” Konnie said, getting to her feet and causing the small fishing boat to rock back and forth. Sadie forgot to breathe until Konnie sat her voluptuous self on the side of the boat and the rocking evened out. “You can lower yourself in if you’d rather not jump.”
A moment later, Konnie put on her mask and fell backward over the side just like an islander who had spent half her life in the ocean—which was exactly what she was. The ensuing wave caused by Konnie’s splash made the boat rock more than ever, and Sadie clung to the side with both hands. Konnie surfaced and yelled at her to jump in. “One of the tour companies brings tourists out here around noon—times a wastin’.”
Sadie nodded, hoping to appear confident as she sat on the side of the boat and let her flippered-feet dangle over the side. The water was the perfect temperature—not too cold, not too warm. She chose the side of the boat opposite her companions—Konnie and the five other members of the Blue Muumuus—so that if she freaked out once she hit the water, the boat would hide her from their view. Though she recognized her anxiety, so far she’d avoided the actual panic attacks she’d studied up on. But if ever there was a day for all that to change, it was this one.
“You’re okay,” Sadie said to herself under her breath, eyeing the water and keeping her breathing even as she double-checked the clasps of her life jacket. She was the only woman who had chosen to wear one. “You’ll be just fine. You can do this.”
She looked over her shoulder, where six backs bobbed in the water; the snorkeling tubes looked as though they were poking out of six heads of dark hair. The stillness of the bodies bothered her, and she turned away, pulling on her mask and putting the mouthpiece of the snorkel in place. Another deep breath filled her with just enough courage to finally plunge into the water.
She hadn’t considered that the snorkel would fill with water, and her first attempt at breathing was salty and wet. She headed for the surface and spat out the mouthpiece and the water, coughing and sputtering. Her heart raced, and she felt a wave of nausea as she gripped her life jacket with both hands and went to work convincing herself she wasn’t drowning.
After taking a minute to get her bearings, and berating herself for being so dramatic, she replaced the salty mouthpiece of the snorkel and practiced breathing for another minute. Maybe two. Or four.
Konnie rounded the boat, her mask still on while her snorkel lay awkwardly against her left ear. “You okay?”
Sadie gave her a thumbs-up, bit down on her snorkel, took a deep breath, and put her face in the water.
The coral reef was full of fascinating shapes, colors, and textures. She’d been warned that the brain-shaped coral was alive and therefore not to be touched—not that she wanted to touch it. The water was clear enough that no detail of the scene below her was lost. A school of yellow tangs darted beneath her.
It’s beautiful, she told herself even as she felt her heart rate increasing. Ethereal. Amazing. And yet her lungs struggled to draw a breath as she watched a parrot fish lazily swimming a few feet away as though she weren’t there. But she was there. She was in their world, trying to appreciate the resplendence while battling the fact that their world was completely creepy! Some of these things around her were probably poisonous, and there were certainly unseen creatures lurking at the bottom, ready to pull her to the depths and never let her go. She’d seen Jaws.
After twenty seconds, she had to lift her face out of the water. Deep relaxing breaths didn’t help when they were inhaled through a snorkel. Konnie was nowhere in sight, and Sadie couldn’t subdue her growing terror. With her head lifted, she was more aware of her feet dangling deeper in the water and closer to those unseen, bottom-dwelling creatures. She tried to pull her feet up, but would that really deter the monsters lurking beneath her? She’d also seen that movie about the surfer who had had her arm bitten off by a shark. What did Sadie look like from the bottom of the sea?
Sadie spat out the mouthpiece and tried to inhale, but it was as though her mouth were no longer connected to her lungs. She couldn’t get the air in. Why not? What was wrong with her?
She headed for the boat, knowing she had to get out of the water. Now. Once she reached the side, however, she couldn’t figure out how to get in. The rim was too high for her to grab onto. Her gasps were ragged and noisy, making it sound like she was drowning even though her head was out of the water. She couldn’t see any of the Blue Muumuus.
What if she passed out in the ocean? Would the fish eat her before anyone discovered she was gone?
You are being ridiculous, she told herself, ripping off her mask in hopes it would help her breathe. She clutched at her life jacket and closed her eyes, trying to pretend she was simply resting on a punctured water bed. After a full minute, her lungs opened up again. She took long, deep breaths and tried to clear her head. She felt oxygen returning to her brain as her body relaxed.
Then something touched her foot, and her eyes flew open in panic. She began thrashing toward the shore.
She had to get out of the water!
That the boat was right there or that Konnie or the other women would certainly have helped her get in it didn’t cross her mind until she was crawling onto the sand, coughing and spitting up water, her lungs and arms burning from her desperate swim to shore.
The sand turned from wet to dry as she crawled out of the ocean; the shore was littered with sticks, rocks, and broken shells left behind by the tide. This wasn’t one of the groomed beaches like they had in Florida, where machines cleaned up the shoreline before the tourists woke up. This beach was natural and messy, and the sand stuck to her wet skin. Something cut her knee, reminding her that she should stand up. But she didn’t want to do anything that would slow down her escape.
Finally, she collapsed, the bulky life jacket keeping her face out of the sand while she once again focused on breathing like a normal human being. It felt like forever before she felt safe. Her thoughts turned to how she would apologize to her new friends, who probably thought she was absolutely bonkers. She wasn’t so sure they weren’t right.
The nightmares that had plagued Sadie after her trip to Boston had led to insomnia and too many late-night infomercials that had provided her with more kitchen gadgets and exercise equipment than she could ever use. When her friend Gayle, her son, Shawn, her daughter, Breanna, and her boyfriend, Pete, had sat her down for an intervention, they told her she needed to get away for a little while. Unwind. Relax. At the time, she’d been optimistic about the change of environment—who wouldn’t want to go to Hawai’i?
But, though she was no longer ordering useless items off QVC, she still stayed inside most of the time, and the only people she interacted with were the Blue Muumuus every few weeks. She slept through the afternoons and was awake most of the night, double-checking the locks at regular intervals.
The only other time she left the condo was to do her job cleaning the additional seven condos in the complex that were rented out by the week. Housekeeping in Hawai’i was very different from housekeeping at home—sand got everywhere, and mildew was a constant battle. It was good to have something to do, though, and the cleaning job was her way of paying rent to her friend Tanya, who owned the complex but preferred her husband’s ranch in Arizona this time of year.
It was because of Tanya that Konnie even knew Sadie had moved in. Konnie had said any friend of Tanya’s was a friend of hers, but Sadie couldn’t help feeling like she was a burden all the same. The women, all of them grandmothers—tutus in Hawaiian—were very nice, but Sadie had yet to really feel like she was a part of their group.
“I need help,” she admitted out loud as water dripped off her long hair. She had grown it out past her shoulders, longer than it had been in decades. Before leaving Garrison, she’d had her stylist lighten it, in hopes that she’d have more fun as a blonde, but she hadn’t kept up the color, and it had faded to a brassy grayish-yellow. Two inches of gray roots had grown out since her arrival. The climate seemed to accelerate how fast her hair grew, and she lacked the courage to go to a salon full of strangers. Most days, she tied her hair back with a bandana and avoided mirrors, blaming her lack of style on the humidity.
Her senses refocused, and she could hear the incessantly pounding waves. The admission that whatever she was dealing with was more than she could handle on her own washed over her and filled her with both fear and relief.
“I need help,” she said again, wondering if it would be more powerful a second time she said it. It was. She did need help, and she needed it soon. Things had happened to her, scary things that had obviously taken their toll on her mental health. She needed to get back to who she was; she needed to feel whole again. Though she talked to her family and friends on a regular basis, she’d kept how bad things were to herself. She didn’t want them to worry. What would they say if they knew the truth?
She flipped onto her back, staring up at the blue, blue sky and wondering how her life had become so dark. Optimism had always been Sadie’s foundation. It had gotten her through her husband’s death more than twenty years ago. It had helped her raise her two children by herself. But in the wake of what had happened in Boston, she’d lost her confidence, and her world had been spinning out of control ever since.
Getting to her feet, she yanked off her flippers and looked out at the water that appeared so innocent now that she wasn’t in it. The Blue Muumuus were back in the boat, heading toward the shore, and she felt overwhelmed by embarrassment and shame, while grateful she wouldn’t have to consider swimming back to them. They had been so kind to her, and she had so little to give back. Now she’d ruined their adventure.
Konnie waved her arms, and Sadie waved back to indicate she was all right. The saltwater was beginning to dry the sand to her skin, making her feel like a big worn-out piece of sandpaper. The cut on her knee stung; she’d need to wash it out with freshwater.
A small boat dock had been built into the rocks along the beach, and Sadie headed toward it with a flipper in each hand. The floating dock moved gently beneath her feet when she stepped on it, and she froze for a moment, afraid she might fall in.
Konnie pointed the boat toward the dock, and Sadie walked slowly down the weathered boards, dreading the explanation of her bolt to the shore. What could she tell them other than the truth? Hi, my name is Sadie, and I’m losing my mind. Congratulations on winning front-row tickets to the show!
When she reached the end of the dock, Sadie waited for the boat like a penitent child. Watching the water lap against the sides of the wood that was green with moss and other sea life gave Sadie the chills. Long strands of dark seaweed flowed alongside, like the hair of a mermaid from some long-ago fairy tale. Sadie watched it move, fluid and graceful, and tried to draw calmness from its easy motion.
After a few seconds, however, she realized the seaweed was black, not green. Despite her misgivings, she bent down to get a closer look into the water and was soon on her knees, peering at the underside of the dock where what she thought was seaweed was actually hair connected to a human head.
Scrambling to her feet as fresh panic descended like a hammer, she screamed for help at the same moment that she lost her balance, dropped the flippers, and plunged headlong into the sea that had already claimed one victim.
She Did it Again
by DeAnn - reviewed on September 06, 2012
Another fun book from Josi Kilpack. I love Sadie and her adventures and this did not disappoint. This one is in Hawaii and I was immediately drawn in to the location. I did miss that Pete wasn't in the book as much - but I think it made Sadie's character a little more rounded.
Banana Split hits the spot
by Cindy - reviewed on March 11, 2012
Once again, Josi has found a way to engage readers to the point that sleep just isn't an option until you find out who dunnit. Not only do we love Sadie because she is so real, but in this novel, we bond with her as we connect with her vulnerability. Not only is Banana Split a great suspense novel, but also treats the results of trauma and anxiety in a realistic and compassionate way. Well worth the read, and the great recipes are always a fun bonus!
Another Josi hit!
by Joyce - reviewed on June 19, 2012
Josi has done a great job of making us feel as though we were in Hawaii with Sadie. Enjoying the fragrance of the beautiful flowers and the salty sea. She keeps you guessing to the very end. It's always fun to see if you can guess the outcome and who was behind it all. Enjoy!!
by LuAnn - reviewed on July 15, 2012
Okay, I was hooked! I stayed up way too late last night and got up way too early this morning to finish this installment in the Sadie Hoffmiller series, but it was well worth it. I love this character, and I love the way she is drawn into the mysteries, despite the fact she tries hard not to be, especially in this story. I read Lemon Tart when it first came out, but I've missed a couple in between. I promise I will go back and read the ones I missed, because I really want to know more about Sadie.
Another great mystery from Josi Kilpack
by Stephanie - reviewed on March 26, 2012
First line: "You snorkel before?" Another great Sadie Hoffmiller mystery! Sadie goes to Hawaii to get away from her life and relax. The last year and a half really have taken toll on our heroine and it's showing. Unfortunately for Sadie, she lands in the middle of another murder mystery and she's not up to the task. But when a young boy is involved, she decides she needs to solve this one last mystery. This story is different than the previous ones and I had a hard time getting into it at first. Then I realized what Josi has done. She's showing us the natural results of being in the middle of traumatic scenes: post-traumatic stress disorder. Sadie can't go on without being affected which makes us care for her even more than before. This book is not a quick read. It takes us into the mind and life of someone suffering from PTSD. It's interesting watching Sadie lose confidence in herself and her skills but still unable to keep away from being an amateur detective. Another great book from Josi Kilpack! Go, Josi! Rating: PG L: No S: No V: Dead body, Liked: Setting Island slang Recipes Disliked: Not figuring out 'whodunit'
by Terri - reviewed on March 11, 2012
I just finished reading Banana Split today. I had a hard time putting it down. Kept me guessing until the end, and I loved the Kauai setting!
Another Sweet & Satisfying Read
by Rachelle - reviewed on August 13, 2012
BANANA SPLIT was my favorite book in the Sadie Hoffmiller culinary mystery series. It may have had something to do with the fact that the book is set in beautiful Kauai, which I just traveled to in May. But the biggest reason I liked this book is that the writing is solid, the characters are developed, and Josi had my mind spinning trying to figure out whodunit. It seemed like everyone was keeping a secret and although Sadie was in a fragile state of mind, she still pulled off an excellent investigation to help a young boy answer questions about his mother's death.
I enjoyed the setting of Hawii.
by angie - reviewed on March 11, 2012
This one was set in Hawii. At first I was a little bugged with how diffarnt Saddie was her whole depression and all,but it got better as it went along.The was one thing that really left me hanging though it had to do with the Mandie and the Hotel owner. I don't want to give away what happend, But I felt the whole thing with them and what they did to Saddie really didn't make sense to me. Their Beef wasn't with Saddie it was with someone else and she was going to leave in the morning . I just felt like that wasn't explained very well. Other then that I really enjoyed the book.
by CourtneyMae - reviewed on March 12, 2012
Josi Kilpack has done it once again!! The adventures of Sadie never fail to leave me wanting more! This was especially true for her latest adventure! Full of twists and turns that make you gasp, and wish that you could read faster! I only wish I didn't read them so fast! The I wouldn't have to wait as long for the next one! Truly a masterpiece! A definite must-read!
Delicious! Scrumptious! I loved it!
by Jennifer - reviewed on March 13, 2012
Banana Split shows us a different Sadie than we've seen before--she is not the obsessive perfectionist we're used to. Sadie is reeling from her horrible experiences over the last 18 months, most recently the near murder by a trusted friend. She goes to Hawaii to "get away from it all." Instead of organizing things, participating in community events, and cooking for her neighbors, Sadie has become scared, anxious, and depressed. And to top it all off, she finds a body--which terrifies her worse. I loved the theme of healing that Josi wove throughout the book. The only way Sadie can help herself snap out of her funk is by helping others. It is as usual action-packed, and exciting, but I felt like it was deeper--a more serious look inside our favorite heroine. Not to mention the new colorful characters, and intriguing mystery. You'll never guess who dunnit!
Banana Split Does Not Disappoint!
by Julie - reviewed on March 20, 2012
Banana Split was so different than any of the other books. At first I wasn't sure if I liked the new Sadie. Where she was previously strong, she was now weak. The relationships she'd relied on in the past weren't there anymore, and Sadie was so un-Sadie-like. But then I realized that this was author genius. Kilpack had taken our beloved character to the edge and pushed her over. It was up to the reader whether they would come along for the ride to see if Sadie could claw her way back or just let it all go. So, with an un-Sadie, an incredible setting, and a dead body, what's a reader to do? Read on. This mystery has several twists and turns that keep you guessing to the very last chapter. Kilpack is one of the best mystery writers in the business and this one does not disappoint.