That sign is on the wall in one of my favorite grease spots, Tiffany’s Original Diner in Maplewood, Mo. The diner really does have a small free library on the wall across from the grill.
My Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper mysteries are set in Maplewood, a quirky redbrick suburb of St. Louis that’s more than a hundred years old. I had to tell my readers about Tiffany’s Original Diner in A Dog Gone Murder, my tenth Josie Marcus mystery, debuting Tuesday.
In A Dog Gone Murder, Josie Marcus investigates dog daycare, including Uncle Bob’s Doggy Day Camp, known for its commercials featuring the dog’s best friend, Uncle Bob. But Josie mystery-shops, she learns how Uncle Bob acts when the cameras are off. Her mother’s new tenant, Frank, who works for Uncle Bob, plans to quit after seeing the man’s true nature. But before he gets the chance, Bob is murdered, and Frank is on his way from the doghouse to the big house.
The police are looking for Frank, and he and Josie’s mother hide out at Tiffany’s Original Diner. Here’s how A Dog Gone Murder describes that part of town:
"That stretch of Manchester Road was Maplewood’s downtown. The two story flat-fronted redbrick shopping district was lined with quirky restaurants and stores, from Airedale Antics for pet lovers, to Kakao Chocolate, to the Book House bookstore.
"Tiffany’s Original Diner was an old school twenty-four-hour diner that served awesome grease. Everything cooked on the grill was bacon flavored, whether customers ordered it or not. Josie thought bacon belonged on all diner food.
"Tiffany’s smelled of lightly fried grease and coffee. The layout was classic diner: a long, narrow room with a counter and red vinyl-and-chrome stools. All the seats were filled and more hungry people were waiting."
Before I had the police barge into my book and arrest someone in a real Maplewood dining establishment, it was only polite to ask Tiffany’s Diner if that was okay. So I stopped by for a late night dinner – two eggs and wheat toast.
I explained my novel plan to the cook at the grill and the waitress behind the counter. "Arrest me!" the cook said. "Use my name."
"You can use my name," said the waitress. Stephanie had blonde hair and a pierced lip. For someone who worked in a diner, she was model slim. "Arrest me!"
"Sorry," I said, "but I have to arrest Frank, the guy in A Dog Gone Murder."
My eggs and toast arrived, swimming in butter. Yum. I discussed hot sauce with a Canadian couple at the end of the counter. And I admired the sign on the wall: "You can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning!" Not only does Tiffany’s have its own library, it also has Rum Chata milkshakes, and there’s a shelf of liquor over the cash register.
Did I say I loved this place?
By the time I ate dinner, the staff agreed that Frank Hyzy could be arrested at the Tiffany Diner.
Then I got the bill – $2.25.
Did I say I liked this place?
A Dog Gone Murder debuts Tuesday. Order your copy from the Book House,7352 Manchester Rd., Maplewood, 314-968-4491, and other independent bookstores. Also available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com as an e-book and a paperback.