by Cynthia Chow & Sandra Murphy
This week we have reviews of 4 food mysteries for you to enjoy for your Mother’s Day celebrations-Ashes to Ashes, Crust to Crust: A Deep Dish Mystery by Mindy Quigley, Cinnamon Twisted: A Deputy Donut Mystery by Ginger Bolton, Death by Chocolate Marshmallow Pie: A Death by Chocolate Mystery by Sarah Graves, and Death by Iced Coffee: A Bookstore Café Mystery by Alex Erickson. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of all 4 books and links to purchase them at the end of each review–you may not be able to see the Amazon links if you have ad blocker on.
Ashes to Ashes, Crust to Crust: A Deep Dish Mystery by Mindy Quigley
Review by Cynthia Chow
It hasn’t been long since Delilah O’Leary opened her deep-dish pizza restaurant in Geneva Bay, Wisconsin, so she’s doing everything she can to keep her pizzeria afloat and profitable. On the top of her list is winning the tourist town’s Taste of Wisconsin Cook-Off, as its $10,000 prize and resulting glut of publicity would definitely boost sales and help her to make the much needed repairs. While the pizzeria staff is getting their fill of pizza tastings and sausages, Delilah and her best friend and fellow chef Sonya Perlman-Doktor (the “Son” of Delilah & Son Pizzeria) are determined to perfect a prize-winning deep-dish pizza recipe. The last thing Sonya needs is the news that the guest celebrity judge will be Graham Ulrich, who detests Sonya for having an affair with his wife. Delilah has her own distractions in town, as not only is her ex-fiancé Sam Van Meter is back in Geneva Bay, his new girlfriend is the Juice Revolution smoothie shop owner and rival contestant Joran Watts. Before Delilah has a chance to wrap her head around this discovery, a smoothie-drinking customer Ronald Wong collapses and falls over dead, possibly jeopardizing the entire cook-off.
As alarmed as Delilah is over this latest calamity hitting Geneva Bay since her return, she has her hands full with repeated cases of vandalism inside her pizzeria despite the doors being locked and no one found inside. Her impossible-to-please Great-Aunt Biz O’Leary is being particularly cantankerous as well, meaning that Delilah knows that they are overdue for what is sure to be an uncomfortable but long-overdue conversation. As if that wasn’t enough to have on her plate, Delilah must continue to work fifteen-hour days, six-days a week, keep her staff employed, and figure out a way to prevent her aptly-named cat Butterball from getting in further fights or expanding his waistline.
This second in the series quickly introduces a number of quirky characters who are all easily distinguishable and feel right at home in this town. While Delilah’s relationship with Detective Calvin Capone seems to be going promisingly well, it’s easy to see why she initially fell for Sam’s charms. The detective’s fellow officers are just as entertaining, and while they might not be the brightest, they are willing to take advice for an amateur. Which is something that Detective Capone is going to have to learn to do, as Delilah isn’t about to stop doing everything she can to protect her business and her family. An inability to ask for help or admit to being less than perfect is something of an O’Leary genetic trait, so it will be a challenge for both Delilah and her aunt to give up any of their responsibilities or control. Watching them grow as individuals is as compelling as the seductive descriptions of the pizzeria’s creations, and readers will be entranced by the recipes that include one for an Eggplant Ndjuda Deep-Dish. This is a welcome addition to the vast foodie mystery genre sure to please fans looking for reads featuring overly-indulged felines, small-town drama, and a flawed but very relatable heroine.
Cinnamon Twisted: A Deputy Donut Mystery by Ginger Bolton
Review by Sandra Murphy
Emily Westhill is part owner of Deputy Donut with her father-in-law, the former police chief. Business is going well, her relationship with Brent, a detective, is moving right along, and their best friends are getting married.
A new customer is acting oddly, sitting at her table for three hours, seeming to study Emily and the employees. When she’s back a second day for a repeat, Emily stops to talk to her. The woman asks to meet Dep, Emily’s cat, who greets customers through the office window. Emily’s surprised when the woman presents Dep with a catnip donut, and then she bolts out the back door, dropping part of an earring along the way.
There were several people passing by the shop at the time, could one of them have spooked the woman? She’d mentioned the cabin she was renting so Emily goes by to drop off the earring. Too late. The woman is dead, and the new police chief thinks Emily makes a fine prime suspect.
There’s an envelope addressed to Emily found in the woman’s house, middle of the night prowlers, strange holes dug in the back yard, a new neighbor who might have an alibi but won’t tell, and Brent’s out of town.
The plot is full of twists and turns, red herrings, and hinted clues. Emily and Brent are a perfect couple, whether or not they realize it. Dep steals every scene she’s in, and that’s most of them. Although Emily is careful and doesn’t take risks, sometimes danger finds her.
This is the seventh book in the series. With a clue as to what will happen next, readers will be anxious to read book eight. At the back of the book find recipes for cinnamon twists from scratch, cinnamon twists fast and easy, quick pesto and mozzarella twists, mustardy potato salad, and fruit punch.
Death by Chocolate Marshmallow Pie: A Death by Chocolate Mystery by Sarah Graves
Review by Sandra Murphy
In Eastport, Maine, Jacobia (aka Jake) and her best friend, Ellie, run The Chocolate Moose. If you have a craving, their pies, cakes, scones, cookies, and more will fill it —when they’re not involved in solving a murder, that is.
It’s not like they go looking for trouble. This year it’s the art fair that started it, sort of. The Moose had an excellent following until Choco’s opened across the street. They sell cheap chocolate and baked goods, none made on the premises.
After the new shop owner, Brad, tells people lies about the food at the Moose, Jake confronts him. Much to her dismay, he looks familiar — and then it dawns on her how she knows him.
Jake wasn’t always an upstanding citizen. In her past, she was a bookkeeper for the mob and laundered money for them. When her marriage fell apart, her son was in jeopardy from being too rich and too spoiled, and the feds started looking into the mob. Jake and her son, Sam, made a run for it and ended up buying a fixer-upper, emphasis on fixer, in Eastport. Now it seems her past has caught up with her.
But when Brad’s body is found in his store, it’s not Jake who’s in trouble. Ellie and Jake are on a deadline to solve the murder before another body turns up.
At home, Jake’s dad and stepmom are having a major disagreement. Her son has taken to spending the night at her house instead of his own, the top on her convertible Fiat is stuck in the down position, no matter the weather, and Ellie’s daughter wants a chocolate marshmallow pie for her birthday.
This is book six in this spinoff from the Home Repair is Homicide original series (16 books.) Jake got her house in almost-repaired shape so she and Ellie opened the Moose. I enjoy the books, but I do have one problem. Jake falls, trips, face plants, gets stung by hornets, and breaks into crime scenes without much of a plan. It turns out right in the end, but in the meantime, she bounces back from more injuries than Bruce Willis in the airport movies. At the back of the book, find a recipe for chocolate marshmallow gingerbread.
Death by Iced Coffee: A Bookstore Café Mystery by Alex Erickson
Review by Sandra Murphy
On the hottest day of the year, the town of Pine Hills, Ohio, has their first marathon scheduled. Even though she’s not a runner, not even someone who exercises on a regular basis, Krissy Hancock promised her friend Rita that she’d run the race. After all, it’s for charity. How bad can it be? Running across the Sahara with a Dixie cup of water bad, that’s how bad.
Of course, in that kind of heat, tempers are short. What started as a hundred runners, quickly dwindled to less than half that number before the race even started. There’s a near fist fight that’s reduced to loud threats, thanks to bystanders. It’s too hot to fight anyway.
About the time Krissy is trying to decide whether she’s hallucinating or ready to pass out, a body is found, but the cause of death is not from the heat. It’s from the strangulation marks around the victim’s neck.
Even though she’s been warned to stay out of investigations, Krissy can’t seem to help herself. She asks questions, she snoops, and she goes where she shouldn’t and when she shouldn’t. With a boyfriend who is a patrol officer, his mother the Chief, and a detective who has resorted to handcuffs and a trip to the station, she still has to find out what happened herself.
Her reason this time is that she saw Rita’s boyfriend, Johan, going into the woods before the race. He was with a blond woman, definitely not Rita. He was supposed to be out of town. The victim had enemies, business and personal, so it’s a challenge to learn that many alibis and motives. Despite being warned off, Krissy is going to try.
This is book eleven in the series. It’s a stretch to understand how Krissy can find the energy to investigate after getting so sick from the heat. The motive is more convoluted than I expected so the killer wasn’t apparent. It was a nice change to read about hot summer days and iced coffees when “we struggle to get temps above the fifties.”
To enter to win a copy of all 4 books, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “mother’s day,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 20, 2023. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode went up this week.
Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.
Great list of books! Count me in!
An amazing lineup of books/authors. Thanks for the chance to win.
Thanks for reading and posting! -Mindy Quigley
Wow! They all sound so good! I don’t know if I could choose a favorite. I love mysteries. I love the covers too. Of course, now I want some sweets. Thank you for this awesome chance!!
Ashes to Ashes, Crust to Crust by Mindy Quigley, Cinnamon Twisted by Ginger Bolton, Death by Chocolate Marshmallow Pie by Sarah Graves, and Death by Iced Coffee by Alex Erikson all sound like delicious cozy books that will make the reader hungry for more!
I love reading culinary cozies. All four sound amazing. Would love to read all four.
Four more series that I didn’t know about.
All sound like good reads. thanks
These all sound great. Thanks for the chance.
Thanks for the opportunity! tWarner419@aol.com
Thank you for the chance.They all sound great.
I like reading culinary cozies. I have read one book each by two of the authors and would really enjoy reading these books. Thanks so much for the chance.
This is an awesome group of authors!! Thanks for the chance to win!! lindaherold999(at)gmail(dot)com
Great giveaway. Thanks for the chance to win some great books!!
They all sound fantastic! I want to read them all. And then of course check out all the other books by these authors. I love cozy foodie mysteries.
Absolutely bliss awaiting us readers. I wish to thank you dear authors for the hours of fun you provide for us eager readers. I love traveling to your worlds and interacting with your characters and trying to help solve the mysteries. Brava to all of you.
Thanks everyone for entering we have a winner!