Smoky Pimento Cheese for Big Lies in a Small Town

I am very pleased to celebrate the release of Big Lies in a Small Town ( St Martin’s Press) by Diane Chamberlain.  Today marks The Book  Club Cookbook’s Big Lies in A Small Town Party!   


Party on!

About the book:

North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold―until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.

North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn’t expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.

What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?

About the author:

Chamberlain grew up in New Jersey and spent summers at the Jersey Shore before finishing college in San Diego.  After receiving her master’s degree in social work, she focused on medical social work in San Diego and Washington, D.C., before going into private psychotherapy practice in Alexandria, Virginia, where she specialized in adolescents.

She now lives and writes in North Carolina.   Chamberlain writes that the state “has become my true home and has also spawned many settings for my stories. I live with my significant other, John, a photographer, and my sweet Shetland Sheepdog, Cole. I have three grown stepdaughters, a couple of sons-in-law and four grandbabies.”

Chamberlain is the New York Times, USA Today and Sunday Times bestselling author of twenty-six novels published in more than twenty languages. Influenced by her former career as a social worker and psychotherapist, she writes suspenseful stories that touch both heart and mind.

You can follow Chamberlain here:


What I thought…

When Judy contacts me with an opportunity to review a product (like the one of the spice blends) or a book, I jump at the chance.  It was a resounding “YES” when she asked me to be a part of Big Lies in A Small Town Party.   I didn’t even read the book’s synopsis so I went into Big Lies without any prior background or knowledge.

Books about artists (fiction or non-fiction) are my favorites.  As stated above, I had no idea I would be swept up in a tale spanning the WPA-type works of the 1930s to the modern and contemporary art world of today.   Throw in the unlikely heroine, a paroled art student, and a mysterious benefactor with an unusual bequeath.

I do enjoy books that have alternating POVs and the mystery of the tattered mural unfolds through the eyes of Anna Dale, the transplanted Northerner who is selected to paint a mural depicting a small Southern town.  Her story takes place during the late 30s and early 40s.   Morgan Christopher is the convict, sprung from jail due to a strange coincidence.  Hers is the contemporary telling.

Both women are similar in age and are both experiencing some life changing moments.  Anna is dealing with her mother’s mental illness and recent suicide.  During her time in North Carolina, she will be assaulted with other challenges.  Morgan is dealing with being labeled a convicted felon for the rest of her life for something she didn’t do.  Plus, she now has to tackle a restoration project that she is not equipped for.  Did I mention there’s an unrealistic time frame associated with this project?

Luckily, both women have help.  Anna’s comes in the form of Jesse, a teenage artist with extreme talent.  Morgan’s comes in the form of a kindly curator with some art restoration knowledge.

The final pages leave the reader gobsmacked as Chamberlain brings the tale to a conclusion, wrapping up all questions and mysteries.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  If I had any criticism it would be the title.  I was reminded of something like Pretty Little Liars (thankfully nothing like that) or Big Little Lies.   If the tale had had more intrigue regarding the small town, maybe….  Of course, I don’t have an alternate title in mind.

The Food

There’s quite a bit of food in the novel.  There were tea cakes, Southern favorites, sandwiches, breakfasts and family meals.   Nothing really stuck out as a food representative of the characters or the tale though.  I researched North Carolina food and pimento cheese kept popping up.   I know that this is not a true Carolina recipe, but it’s good nonetheless.

Smoky Pimento Cheese


I was inspired by Smoky Pimento Cheese Dip.


  • 1 c. good cheddar cheese, shredded*  (I used Tillamook sharp cheddar.)
  • 1 (4 oz.) jar pimentos
  • 1/4 c. mayonnaise (I recommend Duke’s for this recipe.)
  • 1/4 t. dried chopped onion flakes
  • 1/4 t. smoked paprika (Make sure it’s of good quality.)


  1. Grate chees and place in a medium mixing bowl. *Do not use pre-shredded cheese.  Buy a block and grate your own.
  2. Drain pimentos.
  3. Add pimentos, mayo, onion and smoked paprika to the cheese.  Stir to combine.
  4. Place in refrigerator and let set for at least one hour.

Yield: 4-6 as an appetizer.  (Feel free to double the recipe.)

Obviously, the filling can be eaten on crackers, in sandwiches or straight out of the bowl.

Perhaps there was pimento cheese served as hors d’oeuvres at the mural’s debut and gallery opening.

Thanks again to The Book Club Cookbook.   You can catch up with them here:

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 Total aside:  My original plan was to stuff the pimento cheese inside dough and make some delicious “Spicy Pimento Cheese Bites.”
Luckily, I only tried six and I didn’t waste the rest of the pimento cheese!   Don’t try this at home.  It is a recipe in R&D though.  I think I will make little cheese balls using a small scoop and freeze them before I stuff the bread next time.  Thoughts?

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