Penne Dreadful: An Italian Chef Mystery By Catherine Bruns: Review/Giveaway/Recipe

Aug 31, 2019 | 2019 Articles, Food Fun, Kathleen Costa, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Kathleen Costa

This week we have a review of Penne Dreadful An Italian Chef Mystery by Catherine Bruns, plus some fun recipes. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Penne Dreadful, and a link to purchase it from from Amazon.

Penne Dreadful: An Italian Chef Mystery by Catherine Bruns

Introducing…Tessa Esposito!
Welcome to Harvest Park, New York, and to the highs and lows, ups and downs in the life of Theresa “Tessa” Esposito. Tessa is a chef working at the Sunnyside Up Café, and as tomato sauce is not only her award-winning speciality, but her passion, she dreams of one day opening her own restaurant. Sadly, however, in Tessa’s case, dreams get derailed. Her husband of six years was killed in a tragic automobile accident, and after a month now, she is slowing emerging from the depths of grief. Dylan Esposito had been a CPA for a large healthcare firm along with preparing taxes and financial reports for several private clients. Together they lived in a lovely Cape Cod cottage, dreamed of starting a family, and always knew someday they would own that restaurant. But, all of that has changed, and even though she knows Dylan would want her to find a way to move on, it has been a struggle. Tessa is about to learn the struggle is worse…

mysteryCooking has always been Tessa’s best therapy: “the aroma, the spices, the way preparing the food made [her] feel—relaxed, confident, and in control.” But, it is her family and friends that have provided her the greatest support. Tessa’s cousin Detective Gino Mancuso pops in to share a bowl of her penne pasta smothered in her mouthwatering tomato sauce, but his news sends Tessa into an emotional tailspin. The accident, the accident that took her husband’s life, was not an accident. Can’t be! Her husband was a good guy, well liked, and it escapes her as to whom would have reason to murder him. But, evidence was suspicious and tracing his last moments have led authorities to a link with which Tessa can provide some assistance. The only time and place Dylan’s car could have been tampered with is when he was having lunch at his frequent hangout, Slice Pizzeria. Dylan did the owner’s monthly books, and checking more closely into the last place Dylan was before his tragic accident seems to be a logical lead. For Tessa grief turns to resolve; she’ll do anything to get answers and justice. “Cook Wanted” gives her an “in,” and getting directly involved in the investigation gives her a purpose.

I am an eager fan of Catherine Bruns’ work, so I knew I’d not be disappointed with her new series…An Italian chef? Tomato sauce? Murder? Of course! Catherine‘s entertaining writing style uses a well-written first-person narrative from Tessa’s perspective including a compelling plot, some contemporary issues, vivid (some mouthwatering) descriptions, and entertaining banter to illustrate tone, emotions, and personalities. There was so much to unpack in this story that only the lateness of the hour forced me to pause. There were several personal and professional motives to sift through, close family, best friends, old boyfriends, secrets revealed, a few more victims, life-threatening peril, satisfying karmic justice, and some great characters that I look forward to following. Pet lovers will enjoy Luigi, the spoiled tuxedo kitty, who seems destined to have an important place in the series. Family and karma are always themes in Catherine’s work making this a 2019 favorite!

Mangiamo! Let’s eat, Catherine Bruns style! Along with the characters partaking in mouthwatering Italian cuisine, Catherine includes easy-to-follow recipes to enjoy ourselves: Never-Fail Pizza Crust (see below) and Pepperoni Pizza, Tessa’s Tantalizing Tomato Sauce, and ‘Good to the Last Bite’ Stromboli. Don’t miss this one!

Never-Fail Pizza Crust
Recipe in Penne Dreadful By Catherine Bruns

1 25-ounce package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2-1/2cups bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
In a medium-sized bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar into warm water. Wait about 10 minutes or until the mixture looks creamy.
Stir in the flour, salt, and olive oil, beating by hand until smooth.
Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes.
Lightly flour a surface on your counter, then roll out the dough, patting or rolling it into a round.
Transfer the crust to a lightly greased pizza pan, and spread the desired toppings on top of the crust.
Bake in a preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
Let the pie cool about five minutes before serving.
Makes about 8 servings.

Specialty Sauces
By evermine Bloggers
Blog – Roasted Heirloom Tomato PizzaSauce
Stephanie Rose is a gardener who lives in Vancouver, BC, Canada, where she has grown over 100 edibles, 400 perennials, and countless other plants in her small urban yard. She writes DIY garden projects, yummy recipes, and crafty goodness at Garden Therapy where she hopes you will find something to inspire you to get outside for a little, well, garden therapy.

Be a Big Fan!
Catherine Bruns has also penned some of my favorite cozy series that true fans should not miss. Her seven-book Cookies & Chance Mystery series follows Sally Muccio and the cryptic messages found in her fortune cookies. The three book Cindy York Mystery illustrates the murderous side of real estate. The two-book Carrie Jorgenson series in the GHP Aloha Lagoon Mystery multi-author collection gives us a delightful Hawaiian setting. When asked how writing has impacted her life, she replied, “It’s changed forever. If I don’t write for a day or two, it feels like part of me is missing. I can’t imagine doing anything else and wouldn’t want to.”

Don’t miss out on any of Catherine’s work especially her new series!
Be a Big Catherine Bruns Fan!
Catherine Bruns Books (Facebook)
Catherine Bruns (Website)
Catherine Bruns (Newsletter Sign Up)

To enter to win a copy of Penne Dreaful, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “penne,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 7, 2019. If entering via comment please include your email address and if entering via email be sure to include you mailing address (in case you win). US only. 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 check our our new mystery podcast!

You can use this link to purchase this book from Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

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.


  1. Haven’t read this author before but I’ve been hearing good things about this book. Would love to read.

    • Oh, you’ve got to read Catherine’s work…you’ll love it!

  2. Sounds interesting. Bruns is a good author. Count me in!

  3. Such a great author – would love to win one of her books, especially this one since it’s not in my library – trwilliams69(at)msn(dot)com

  4. Such a great series. One of my favorites.

  5. Love this author. Thanks for the giveaway.

  6. Wonderful and delectable giveaway which is a real treasure. Thanks.

  7. Great author. Would really like to read.

  8. Thanks for the chance! JL_Minter(at)hotmail(dot)com

  9. Thank you so much for this chance. pgenest57(at)aol(dot)com

  10. Thank you for the chance I’d love to read it and review too.

  11. Just froze a bushel of tomatoes
    for winter use – spaghetti sauce,
    stuffed peppers, etc. Sounds
    like an interesting read.
    thanks for offering a copy of
    the book.

  12. Thanks for offering this chance!

  13. lindaherold999(at)gmail(dot)com

  14. We have a winner!


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