Friday, July 6, 2018

Murder and Marinara (An Italian Kitchen Mystery)

Author:  Rosie Genova
Genre:  Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9780451415141
Berkley Obsidian
336 Pages
$7.99; $5.99 Amazon
October 1, 2013

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When Victoria takes a break from penning her popular mystery series and moves back to the Jersey shore, she imagines sun, sand, and scents of fresh basil and simmering marinara sauce at the family restaruant, the Casa Lido.  But her nonna's recipes aren't the only things getting stirred up in this Italian kitchen.

Their small town is up in arms over plans to film a new reality TV show, and when Victoria serves the show's pushy producer his last meal, the Casa Lido staff finds itself embroiled in a murder investigation.  Victoria wants to find the real killer, but there are as many suspects as tomatoes in her nonna's garden.  Now she'll have to heat up her sleuthing skills quickly...before someone else gets a plateful of murder.

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Victoria Rienzi writes mysteries under the name of Vick Reed.  When it's determined that she needs a temporary break from writing her series, she returns home to her roots to write about her family.  But when she arrives she doesn't expect to see the man who sent her running away in the first place...working in her family's restaurant as a sous chef.

Once she realizes she'll have to work with him she decides to make the best of it and tells him she refuses to discuss their past together.  But that's not all: she learns from her family that a smarmy TV producer is going to film a reality TV show in their little town, and they've organized a protest against it.

But things take a turn when Gio Parisi - the person running the show - turns up at the restaurant and Victoria realizes she needs to serve him and get him out before her family returns and finds him there.  But what she also doesn't expect is that when she heads out to the kitchen garden not too long after, she finds Gio dead nearby...

Now the restaurant is losing customers because everyone thinks he developed food poisoning from their food.  And Vick also discovers that her nonna wants her to put her deductive skills to use to find the killer before they have to close their doors for good...

I know this series didn't last too long, but it sounded cute anyway, so I prevailed...at least until I discovered we're up to our ears again in a love triangle.  When, oh, when will authors realize a love triangle is not all that interesting to read about?  Personally, I detest them.  Think of it this way:  What if the situation were reversed and it were one man stringing along two women?  You'd think him a dog and the women trying to snag him were desperate.  So why is this any different?  It's not much better, waffling between two men, really.  Is there a lack of women in this town (or any of the others we read about)?  Most people don't date two people at the same time (at least with the other person's knowledge) waiting for them to make a decision on which man she'll choose.  Geez, enough with the love triangles already.  If you're going to throw in a romance, make it a romance, not another silly woman who hasn't got the brains to decide which man she wants in her life.

Anyway, although others might find the idea interesting, it's gotten to the point with me that if I even get a whiff of a love triangle I stop reading the book and vow never to pick up any more in the series; and if the author writes a different series, I usually look for it at the bookstore and if that one goes in the same direction, I never read another by the author.  I want to be entertained, not read a soap opera.

Besides that little tidbit of annoyance, the characters are all stereotypical - Italian family has a decades-old restaurant, a crusty nonna, an over-the-top mother who wants grandchildren (Thank God for parents who understand their children aren't baby-making machines who marry and then are expected to pop them out on a regular basis just to keep their mother happy).  Babies come in their own time and at the right time, and mothers like this are the reason people move as far away from them as possible; the son is a police officer, and of course, the ex-boyfriend is dark and brooding.

While the ending tied everything up together nicely, just as it's supposed to, it also did the typical will-she-or-won't-she with the "boyfriends" whom, of course, she managed to alienate in this book in the usual way but will probably have them chomping at the bit for her in the next.  It doesn't really matter, because I won't be there to read it.

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