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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 began her first novel in 1998. Her seventh novel,
Sheep’s Clothing, won the 2007 Whitney Award for Mystery/
Suspense. Rocky Road is Josi’s nineteenth novel and the tenth book
in the Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery Series.
Josi currently lives in Willard, Utah, with her husband and
For more information about Josi, you can visit her website at
www.josiskilpack.com, read her blog at www.josikilpack.blogspot
.com, or contact her via e-mail at Kilpack@gmail.com.
It sounds like you’ve had quite a trauma.”
Sadie shredded Kleenex in her lap and nodded at Dr. McKay, her new psychiatrist. Trauma sounded like too mild a word to describe what it had been like to discover the body and then fall on top of it in the water. She hadn’t cried about it yet. The tissues were simply for her nerves, and they were not helping as much as she’d hoped.
Dr. McKay consulted the file in front of him. “What happened after you fell in?”
The question transported her back to that moment last week—six days to be exact—when the water had closed over her head. Wild with panic, Sadie had accidently kicked the body, dislodging it from the dock. The body had then floated upward with her. During Sadie’s frantic attempt to get away, her fingers had become entangled in the dark hair, catching her like a net and causing her to pull the body with her as she retreated from the dock toward open water.
She looked at her hands in her lap; she could still feel the hair wound around her fingers. The same deadening panic she’d felt while trying to get away from the corpse pressed in upon her in the small office and rendered her frozen and overwhelmed as she tried to stay in this moment, not that one. The cut on her knee and the bumps and scrapes she’d suffered from falling into the ocean and then being pulled over the side of the boat were healing, but the things in her head had only gotten worse.
Dr. McKay said something about post-traumatic stress disorder and how it could mentally transport a person back to the moment of the incident, igniting the fight-or-flight feelings that had occurred at the time of the trauma.
“I thought that was something soldiers got at war,” Sadie said. She certainly wasn’t a soldier—she wasn’t any kind of hero. When had she ever saved anyone? No, she always entered the story after the horrible things had already happened.
“That’s where PTSD gets most of its attention, but it certainly isn’t reserved only for war-time trauma—it can happen anytime someone encounters something psychologically overwhelming.”
Sadie tried to listen to his words but she could still feel the soft impact of her feet against the bloated body as she’d finally untangled herself from the hair and kicked frantically toward the boat heading toward her. By the time the Blue Muumuus got her calm enough to talk coherently, Sadie had lost all perspective on where she was and what had happened. When her first words were about someone by the dock trying to kill her, they had shared a look that communicated their wonder of why they had invited this unstable haole on their snorkeling trip in the first place. But then Konnie had leaned out of the boat, peering toward the dock.
A moment later, she was screaming too.
What happened next was anyone’s guess—Sadie certainly didn’t remember it, other than she’d been taken to the hospital for an assessment; the Blue Muumuus thought she’d been hurt in the fall. The doctors had kept her overnight and then gave her some pills to help her sleep and arranged for her to meet with someone to “work things out in her head.” Enter Dr. McKay.
“So don’t expect an instantaneous recovery,” Dr. McKay said, bringing her back to the present. “It can take time to repair the psychological injury from such an event, which is what we will work on.” He flipped through the papers in her file and paused to read something else. “It says here you’ll be in Kaua’i until the end of April, is that right? Three more weeks?”
“I fly home on the twenty-second.”
“So you’ll be back home in time for Easter—that’s nice.”
“Do you have plans for the holiday? Time with family, perhaps?”
“My children are spending Easter with me and my boyfriend, Pete, plus his children and their families.” It would be the first time their children would meet one another. She felt more capable of building a replica of the Eiffel Tower out of cheese doodles than successfully pulling off the holiday gathering. It had seemed like such a worthy goal three months ago—the perfect reentry into a life that felt like someone else’s, now that she’d been gone so long.
“That sounds like something to look forward to,” he said, smiling in a way that made him look a little like Mr. Rogers but with glasses and a Hawaiian shirt.
“I really need to be doing better than this when I go home.”
“I understand. I can work in three visits a week during the remainder of your stay. That gives us at least six more visits—maybe as many as nine. I think we can make a lot of progress in that amount of time.”
“Okay,” she said. “So, I just come to you and talk about it and this will go away?” Maybe she’d be bright and shiny and new by the time she returned to Garrison. She hoped so, but she didn’t really believe it.
“I certainly can’t make guarantees, but we’ll process things together, and as your thoughts are cleared up, it will start to make sense.”
“Sense?” Sadie repeated. “Really?”
“Well, a kind of sense.”
“How is that possible?”
He smiled. “One step at a time,” he said. He looked down at his papers again. “Do you know much about the woman whose body you found?”
“She was a drug addict.” Sadie stared at the floor. She felt her throat thicken but refused to give in to the emotion. She preferred numbness. “She’d been missing for a week before anyone reported she was gone.”
“That’s very sad,” Dr. McKay said.
Very sad? Sadie repeated in her head. She was paying this guy a hundred bucks an hour for very sad?
“I’m curious,” Dr. McKay continued, his tone of voice changing. “What kind of support system do you have, Sadie?” He lifted another paper to read the one underneath. “Colorado is a long way from here.”
“I have good support,” Sadie said. “I have a good relationship with my children, Breanna and Shawn. And Pete—he’s my boyfriend.” She felt a little silly saying it like that. She wasn’t a teenager after all.
“You’ve talked to them about this?”
Sadie shifted in her chair and settled on a shrug. Of course she hadn’t talked to them about this. “My cell phone went dead while I was in the hospital, and I’ve been sleeping a lot since I got released.” She shredded more Kleenex. “But I sent them all e-mails yesterday telling them I was fine. My friend Gayle will be coming to stay with me for the last week of my visit—I’ll tell her before then.”
“I wonder why you’re not comfortable confiding in her now, or in any of the rest of your friends and family,” Dr. McKay said. She chose not to answer. He allowed the silence for nearly a minute then mentioned something about the cathartic healing that talking to her loved ones could invite.
“I’d like to give you a couple of prescriptions,” he said when he finished. “One’s an antidepressant for you to take on a daily basis; based on your intake evaluation from the hospital, I think it would be helpful. The other medication will give you a kind of quick fix when your anxiety peaks. Are you open to that?”
She nodded. The pills the hospital had given her to help her sleep had run out. Having another medicinal lifeline was certainly welcome.
Dr. McKay also trained her to breathe in a way that would help calm herself down—drawing in a breath while counting, then exhaling it to the same count. Sadie practiced it with him; it seemed elementary.
When her hour was up, Sadie gave him a sheepish “thank you” and agreed with Dr. McKay when he reminded her that this would be a process and that they would go at her pace. As Sadie left the office, she wondered if she would go to her next appointment on Thursday. She didn’t want to, and yet she did want to get better. It was just hard to think that talking to him would really give her what she needed.
The trip home was a blur of anxiety and attempts to keep from completely freaking out. If not for feeling desperate to get the prescriptions filled, she’d have gone straight home, but she tried to see it as a small miracle that she’d gone into the grocery store, waited in line at the pharmacy counter, and ordered the medicine to be brought to her house that afternoon, all without screaming.
When she walked passed Konnie’s house, less than a block away from the condo, she held her breath, then winced when Konnie called her name from the doorway. Luckily, Konnie was just leaving. She only had enough time to hand over a Tupperware of shoyu chicken and rice that Sadie could heat up for dinner. The chicken was from last night, Konnie explained, but would reheat well in the oven at 200 degrees for an hour. Sadie thanked her and then practically ran home, holding the Tupperware with both hands.
Inside the condo, she turned the lock three times to make sure it was secure. “One, two, three.” Then she hurried to the back sliding door and made sure it was locked too, just in case. “One, two, three.”
All the drapes were pulled, and she tugged at the curtains above the kitchen sink to smother a sliver of sunlight that was sneaking through. She took a deep breath, telling herself that she was safe now—she didn’t have to leave the condo for two more days . . . assuming she’d keep that appointment with Dr. McKay. Did she feel better for having gone to the first appointment? She couldn’t tell, and so she stopped thinking about it all together.
The Cap’n Crunch cereal Sadie had had for breakfast while watching M*A*S*H reruns at noon had worn off, but the chicken would take too long. She put it in the fridge and opened the freezer to survey her options. Turkey pot pie or a bean and beef burrito. She’d fallen so far from the woman she once was.
The Sadie she used to be cooked everything from scratch, both for nutritional reasons and because she loved to cook. The Sadie she used to be wasn’t afraid of leaving her home, in fact she kept herself very busy outside of her own four walls. The Sadie she used to be was strong and capable and self-assured.
This new Sadie was a rather pathetic version of the woman she’d been six months ago. It would be nice to blame the changes on having found a body in the ocean last week, but she’d been spiraling for months. Every day she hoped the next day would be the day something changed. Tomorrow, she’d have energy, motivation, and purpose. Tomorrow, she’d rediscover the woman she used to be. But tomorrow wasn’t today, and so this Sadie pulled a burrito out of the freezer and dropped the frozen brick onto a microwave-safe plate.
It wasn’t until she removed the burrito from the microwave two minutes later that she noticed the light blinking on the answering machine. Like everything else in the condo, the phone hadn’t been updated in fifteen years. Her cute little notebook computer and cheap printer were the most modern things here, but Sadie liked that she knew how to work everything. Only a few people had the direct number to the condo though, and she pushed the button while adding a dollop of sour cream to her lunch.
“Hey, Mom, it’s me,” Shawn’s voice said. “I got your e-mail but haven’t talked to you for a while. I’m hoping that’s ’cause you’ve taken up surfing. Call me when you get a second.”
Sadie smiled sadly. Shawn was such a good boy, and though she didn’t think he was struggling as much as she was, Boston had taken its toll on him as well. The old Sadie would have known how to help him. Instead, she worried his burdens would be too much for her to handle along with her own. Maybe he sensed the same thing. Their conversations had become rather shallow. She missed her boy and the relationship they used to have, but she didn’t know how to fix it.
The next message started playing, and her mood fell even more. “Sadie, it’s Pete.” His voice was open and even—a tone she’d come to hate because it meant he was playing police detective with her. “I talked to the Kaua’i police and am wondering why you didn’t tell me what happened. Call me, okay?”
She looked at the phone and felt her stomach drop. Pete had talked to the Kaua’i police before Sadie had left for Hawai’i, asking them to keep an eye on her. She didn’t really know if the police had done so or not—she’d hadn’t met any cops until last week—but it had been sweet of Pete to go to the trouble. Either they had informed him of what had happened or he had called them to check up on her. She should probably be grateful it took six days for him to find out, but now she would have to come up with an explanation. Would Pete buy the argument that she’d taken it in stride and therefore didn’t feel it was important enough to talk about?
The thought of being so flippant brought back the moment when her hand had pushed at the arm of the dead body. The skin had felt slimy, and the memory of it made Sadie wince. She clenched her eyes shut, and sweat broke out on her forehead.
Go away, she commanded the memories. Leave me alone.
Island Teriyaki Chicken
1 cup soy sauce (Aloha brand is best)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup water
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon ground ginger (more to taste), or a 1-inch piece of ginger root
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, or 3 pounds any type bone-in chicken
Twenty-four hours before serving, combine everything but the chicken in a saucepan and bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Boil one minute. If grilling chicken, reserve 1⁄2 cup of sauce. If using chicken breasts, tenderize the meat. Combine sauce and chicken in a zip-top bag or airtight container. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator overnight. (For a quick-cook method, you can skip marinating, but the flavor of the meat won’t be as strong.)
To Bake: Arrange chicken breasts and marinade in 9×13 pan. Cover pan with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
To Grill: Discard marinade. Grill chicken on medium-high heat until cooked through. Use reserved sauce to enhance grilled chicken as desired.
Slow-Cooker Method: Combine everything in a slow cooker and cook on low heat for 8 hours. If using ginger root, remove root after 5 hours.
Serve with white rice.
Note: To make shoyu chicken, a Hawaiian version of teriyaki chicken, add the following ingredients to the marinade, then follow the rest of the directions as stated:
1 teaspoon black pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon oregano
up to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
up to 1 teaspoon paprika
up to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
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.
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