Book Bites: Claire O’Dell and A Study In Honor

Book Bites is Cooking the Books‘ more easygoing cousin. Authors talk about their book and share a recipe, all in one tasty bite. 

I’m slammed on deadlines, so please accept many apologies that this is a little late. And hey! It’s a new Book Bite! This time from author Claire O’Dell! Welcome, Claire, and thank you for Sarah’s delicious recipe!

Claire O’Dell writes:

Amazon |  B&N |  Powells |  Indie Bound

When Dr. Janet Watson loses an arm in America’s New Civil War, she returns to Washington, DC to reassemble her life. She ends up sharing an apartment with special agent Sara Holmes, who is quirky, brilliant, and given to ignoring boundaries. She also cooks.

What an inadequate word, I thought. To say that Sara cooked was to say that Dali used a paintbrush. I had watched her at work, plucking fresh herbs from her miniature garden, dashing sesame oil into a shallow pan, and her hands moving rapidly as she diced and chopped and stirred.

 Do you cook? she had asked me that first day. Yes, I did, but nothing like that.

All of a sudden, I had the clearest image of her doing the same for others over the years. A carefully prepared meal of favorite dishes. A warm hand laid on the agent’s shoulder–but lightly because she did not want to upset the equilibrium of terror and determination. Was this how my mother had felt, sending her children off to university, to marriage, to war?

Sara is difficult, but she takes care of her friends–in her own way. Here is my best approximation of one meal that she cooks for Janet after an emotionally wrenching day:

RECIPE: Sara’s peppercorn soup


  • 3 pounds chicken, cut into pieces
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tb chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 Tb paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 chicken bouillon cubes, crumbled
  • 5 Tb basil
  • 1 Tb whole black peppercorns
  • Salt to taste


  1. Puree all spices except the peppercorn in a blender or food processor
  2. Add chicken, peppercorn, and pureed spices to a large pot, along with 8 cups of water
  3. Bring to a boil and simmer 2-3 hours
  4. Serve warm.

Claire O’Dell grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC, in the years of the Vietnam War and the Watergate Scandal. She attended high school just a few miles from the house where Mary Surratt once lived and where John Wilkes Booth conspired for Lincoln to die. All this might explain why she spent so much time in the history and political science departments at college. Claire currently lives in Manchester, CT with her family and two idiosyncratic cats. You can find her on Twitter at: @claireodell99


One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s