FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Beaten Until Stiff, Poison Pen Press, 2002

Ashland, Or.  May 25, 2008

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Claire M. Johnson -- Not Your Cozy Culinary Mystery


Mystery author Claire M. Johnson, author of  BEAT UNTIL STIFF and ROUX MORGUE will speak and sign at Bookwagon New and Used Books in Ashland on Friday June 12, 2008 at 6pm.

 Roux Morgue by Claire M. Johnson, published by Poison Pen Press, 2008

If you’re wanting yet another culinary cozy replete with recipes and cute, don’t read Johnson’s works. Instead, think Anthony Bourdain in Kitchen Confidential and Gordon Ramsay’s angry tirades and you’ll be spot on.


Mary Ryan is Johnson’s protagonist, a pastry chef who’s gone through the school of hard knocks and been tested in the kitchens of San Francisco. “I’d done time in too many kitchens to count where I’d had to adopt this bitchy, balls-the-size-of-grapefruits-attitude to get any respect. I was called Senora Cojones behind my back. I didn’t care.” 


In BEAT UNTIL STIFF (Poison Pen Press, 2002) Ryan  finds a dead body in the laundry bag of soiled aprons and table linens, uncovering dirty secrets at American Fare, the tony San Francisco restaurant where she works. ROUX MORGUE (Poison Pen Press, 2008) finds Mary teaching at her alma mater, Ecole d’Epicure, where classical cooking battles to the death with California’s nouvelle cuisine.


Johnson's work has received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and the San Jose Mercury Times. Kirkus says, “Sexual tension, cooking tips and a neatly packaged mystery. All in all,
a tasty tale.”  The San Jose Mercury Times quotes from BEAT UNTIL STIFF
"Despite all the hype, the food business pays barely subsistence wages. A few big name chefs like Brent make a ton of dough, but the majority slog along until they realize they aren't going to make more than about $12 an hour, usually no benefits," and comments, "Johnson draws a bitterly accurate picture of the social climbers and celebrity fans who populate high-profile restaurants, and a fond but tough portrait of the Bay Area."

Claire M. Johnson completed the California Culinary Academy’s program for professional chefs and writes about kitchens and cooking with an insider’s knowledge of detail and authenticity. She was right there in the kitchens of San Francisco and Berkeley, during the emergence of local cuisine, when some of the best known chefs in the nation made their bones. BEAT UNTIL STIFF won the 1999 Malice Domestic Writer’s Grant. For more information on Claire M. Johnson, visit


The Ashland Mystery Readers Group also produces the cable access television show Ashland Mystery, rvtv noir, airing Wednesdays at 7:30 pm on Cable Channel 15 in Jackson and Josephine Counties. Now airing is the episode featuring Alaska writer Stan Jones, interviewed by Ann Sutton.


Ashland Mystery is sponsored in 2009 by Friends of the Ashland Public Library, Bookwagon New and Used Books, Standing Stone Brewing Company and Beverly&David Lively - The Party Place, and produced by the Ashland Mystery Readers Group. For more information contact Maureen Flanagan at 541-552-0743 or visit the group’s website