Phyllis Entis

Award-winning mystery writer and food safety microbiologist


Starting the day with a smile

5star-flat-webThere’s nothing like a great review to bring a smile to an author’s lips and put a song in her heart. Well, I am smiling and singing like a happy fool today, after receiving this review from Susan Sewell of Readers’ Favorite.

The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper (A Damien Dickens Mystery Book 3) by Phyllis Entis is a fabulous sleuth mystery set in the 1980s. On their slightly misrepresented honeymoon cruise, Damien and Millie befriend Barbara, a psychiatric nurse. Never expecting to see her after they disembark from The Yankee Clipper, Damien and Millie are surprised when Barbara walks into their office and asks for their protection. Barbara explains that she is not a nurse, but is a journalist for a Montreal newspaper. Something that Barbara has discovered has put her in danger, and now someone is following her. Before Damien and Millie can determine why somebody is following Barbara, she is the victim of a hit and run accident. When Barbara regains consciousnesses, she can’t remember anything. What did Barbara uncover that is so vital that someone wants her dead? The only answer to be found is in the coded notes which Barbara hid in her hotel safe. With the lack of police cooperation, Damien and Millie have to decipher the notes before it is too late and Barbara is murdered in her hospital bed.

The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper (A Damien Dickens Mystery Book 3) by Phyllis Entis is an intense and exciting sleuth mystery. Damien is again confronting his arch-enemy, Turpin. Turpin has the city authorities in his pocket, deviating the objectivity of the municipal’s law enforcement, making Damien’s life more difficult. Millie and Damien’s relationship is realistically meeting some roadblocks that they have to address. Damien meets these issues in his usual well-meaning and hard-headed way. This is the third Damien Dickens Mystery novel and the books just keep getting better. Hershey, the Labradoodle, is introduced in this episode and it seems like he is going to make a marvelous addition to the series. Damien’s dicey exploits are thrilling and addictive. I can’t wait for his next mystery, and I highly recommend his adventures to those who enjoy reading whodunits.

And for the icing on the cake, Susan added this message to me:

I do love your Damien Dickens Mysteries! I am pleased and impressed with how your stories continue to improve.I am interested to find out how Hershey is going to fit in and am anxious to see what happens with Turpin. Great work and keep writing! I can hardly wait for the next episode!

Thank you Susan Sewell for your enthusiastic reception of The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper. I am already at work on Damien and Millie’s next adventure.

Leave a comment

A Decade of Old Habits

Long before Gone Writing, long before Damien Dickens, long before Prompt Prose, and long before eFoodAlert, I conceived and wrote a book about food safety.

My book, I decided, wasn’t going to be a scientific treatise, incomprehensible to the general public. Nor was it to be a dumbed-down ‘Food Safety for Dummies’. It would contain sufficient scientific weight to be used as a college-level textbook; however, the information would be presented in a casual, accessible manner, with a minimum of jargon.

In 2004 I submitted my idea to Jeff Holtmeier of ASM Press, the publication arm of the American Society for Microbiology. He was excited by the concept, presented it to his editorial board, and, to my excitement, ASM Press offered me a publishing contract. After almost two years of writing, followed by a year of editing and preparation for publication, Food Safety: Old Habits, New Perspectives was born.

Today, January 8, 2017, I am celebrating the tenth birthday of my book with, I must admit, mixed feelings. The good news is that Old Habits (my working title) is as relevant today as it was the day of its release. The bad news is that Old Habits is as relevant today as it was the day of its release. Despite the passage in the US of the Food Safety Modernization Act, despite stepped-up enforcement of food safety regulations and criminal prosecution of the most egregious violations of the law, we still confront many of the same issues about which I wrote ten years ago. And we are still woefully deficient in educating consumers in safe food-handling practices.

Ten years ago, I wrote:

We live in a world in which we are vastly outnumbered by microbes. We touch and are touched by millions of microscopic beings every day. We cannot – nor should we want to – avoid this contact. After all, most microbes are either beneficial or benign. Even so, we can’t ignore the health risks presented by a small minority of pathogens that may be present in our environment, including in our food and water. We owe it to ourselves, to our families, and to our communities to take all reasonable measures to ensure the safety of our food and water supply.

Some old habits are good ones; they should not be changed willy-nilly. But old methods need to be reappraised in the light of new information, and new habits should be formed as new procedures and technologies are developed and validated.

Each of us – consumer, restaurant owner, food service worker, meat or poultry producer, farmer or food processor – must make a commitment to learn correct procedures and to apply them consistently. No one (except for those few who deliberately contaminate food) intentionally causes foodborne illness, nor would food producers or processors make a conscious decision to save money by cutting corners if they knew that a food poisoning outbreak might result.


Food Safety: Old Habits, New Perspectives is available from Amazon in print and Kindle editions.