by Kathleen Costa
This week we are reviewing Six Feet Deep Dish: A Deep Dish Mystery By Mindy Quigley, the first in a brand new series, and we have an interesting interview with Mindy. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.
Six Feet Deep Dish: A Deep Dish Mystery By Mindy Quigley
Review by Kathleen Costa
“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s…” murder!
— Composer: Harry Warren
Delilah O’Leary is a graduate of culinary school, well-trained chef with high-end Chicago restaurant experience, and set to fulfill her life-long dream of owning her own restaurant. She found the big restaurants too restrictive and wanted to push the envelope more with creative flavor profiles and fresh ingredients as she raises to a new level Chicago’s signature food: deep dish pizza. The perfect locale for her restaurant is Geneva Bay, Wisconsin, since it’s a popular vacation destination and an hour north of Chicago, but it’s also a place for which Delilah has many fond childhood memories staying with her father’s Aunt Elizabeth, “Biz” for short. She is, however, a perfectionist, and with a “soft opening” scheduled, she’s also a worrywart. Her BFF, culinary buddy, and sous chef Sonya Dokter is there to rein her in when she gets a bit too intense, but this venture has definitely magnified some of the cracks in her relationship with fiancé Sam Van Meter. The two met at one of Delilah’s catering gigs, and knowing how much she dreamed of her own place, he agreed to be her partner and main investor, but their styles, their personalities, even their passion for the project are different. Too different?
Six Feet Deep Dish Earns 5/5 Spicy Sauces…Entertaining, Delish Fun!
Delilah hoped this evening’s opening of her new restaurant would be near perfect, however hours before, she discovers the sign has a major imperfection which leads to a final “can’t take this” walkout by her fiancé. Of course, he leaves behind Butterball, a finicky tabby cat, but that’s not much help with more than sixty guest set to arrive. However, the event goes surprisingly well, sans Sam’s attendance, of course, but her Auntie Biz, a staunch supporter, was a bit too grumbly. She complained about the absence of her live-in caregiver Jeremy, being ignored by the head waiter Carson, and how red Delilah’s cheeks were from obviously too much alcohol. Delilah put up with the woman’s attitude, unlike her sister, mainly because she attributed her own love of cooking to her aunt’s patience and talent in the kitchen, but memory issues, phobias, and physical ailments were becoming increasingly worrisome and problematic.
Lois Gorman was a hardly tolerated resident of Geneva Bay. Her aunt had too many run-ins with the woman, and it was obvious why since Delilah had to do her best to ignore comments about spinsterhood and equating her passion to a hobby. It was disconcerting, yet insightful, to learn Lois’s precious grandson was her incompetent, now MIA, waiter Carson, but enough was enough for Carson…he’s gotta go! “Dee” heard he’d gone off with the sommelier consultant, so she went looking for them both. Instead, she finds Jeremy on the ground and her aunt with a gun in her hand.
Spicy Gem! Mindy Quigley has premiered her Deep Dish Mystery series with an outstanding mystery filled with endearing friends, flawed romance, a cantankerous aunt, cheese-loving feline, a mobster’s great-grandson now detective, ex-con dishwasher, and plenty of food talk. The victim was a surprise since two others seemed more in need of a karmic “shot,” but it turned out being quite a “deep” investigation exposing much about the victim, interesting connection, a batch of suspects with intriguing motives, and a plethora of surprising discoveries that made it engaging and very clever. Mindy’s wit and humor was just one more ingredient in this delish drama along with incorporating issues with the elderly and their care and some fascination details from Mrs. O’Leary’s cow and Al Capone to bootleg days. The mystery was a compelling, fun read, tops in my mind, with twists, perilous predicaments, and a surprise arrest with a shocking motive…I didn’t see that coming! The eclectic group of friends and family, good guys and bad, two legged and four-legged alike added to this special addition to the cozy genre. Mindy’s writing style was descriptive and the dialogue did well to illustrate the multi-generational personalities. Another candidate for the Top New-to-Me Read of 2022.
And Recipes, Yeah! With a witty narrative along with detailed insights, instructions, tips, and suggestions, you can enjoy Delilah & Son’s Chicago Deep Dish Pizza, Daniel’s Emergencia Médica Cocktail, Auntie Biz’s Pissaladière, Auntie Biz’s Orange Supremes with Fennel and Arugula, Deep Dutch Pizza, and Red Hot Mama Pizza. Delish!
ALERT! Delilah’s delicious journey continues with book 2, Ashes to Ashes, Crust to Crust. Delilah is eager to enter the “Taste of Wisconsin” culinary contest in hopes of winning the cash prize to support her bottomline, but a suspicious death has her in a personal dilemma. It is currently on Amazon Preorder HERE set to release in April, 2023.
Be a Fan of Mindy Quigley!
“Minty Fresh Reads. Murder and mayhem, with a sprig of mint.” Mindy Quigley is a breath of fresh air with her new Deep Dish Mystery series, but she’s not a new author. Her Lindsay Harding Mystery series stars hospital chaplain Lindsay Harding is also a delightful cozy that fans should not miss. She is also part of the Cozy Case Files Volume 16, which at the time of this post is FREE…check it out!
Interview with Mindy Quigley:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Mindy: Gosh, forever. I remember going off-piste on an assignment in sixth or seventh grade, rewriting the ending of Romeo and Juliet so that Juliet lived and ended up with Benvolio. Apparently, I was the kind of twelve-year-old with the audacity to revise Shakespeare. I can’t remember why I didn’t spare Romeo and make it a happy ending all the way around. Maybe I thought he had it coming because he offed Tybalt? More likely, I had a serious crush on Bruce Robinson, who played Benvolio in the 1968 movie version we watched in class. Google “Bruce Robinson Benvolio” and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
KRL: LOL When did your first novel come out, what was it called, and would you tell us a little about it?
Mindy: A Murder in Mount Moriah, the first book in my Mount Moriah Mysteries Series, was published in 2014. The protagonist is a young, female hospital chaplain in North Carolina. Early in my career, I worked with the hospital chaplaincy department at Duke University Medical Center and was fascinated by the chaplains and the work they did. It’s a really unusual job – part therapist, part social worker, part minister – and they often got drawn deeply into the lives of patients within a short space of time.
Years later, the idea of putting a chaplain at the heart of a murder mystery popped into my brain. Even though chaplains’ work gets pretty heavy, my books are funny. People who work in hospitals would never be able to get through the day without humor, and that goes double for chaplains. The first book begins with a Civil War reenactment in my protagonist’s hometown producing a real casualty. Although the murder takes place in front of hundreds of spectators, no one seems to have seen how it happened.
KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense and if not, what else have you written?
Mindy: My “novel in a drawer” is a middle-grade sci-fi adventure set in Scotland about a girl who uses both brain and brawn when her life takes a sudden, catastrophic turn. I truly love that book, and one day I’ll dust it off and share it with the world.
KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series?
Mindy: I was listening to an interview recently on the Poisoned Pen Bookstore’s YouTube channel where the author said she wished she’d written a book that was easier to describe. My Deep Dish Mysteries series is the total opposite. It can be summed up in two emojis: the pizza slice and the cat face.
The books are about a chef, Delilah O’Leary, who moves to the charming lakeside resort town of Geneva Bay, Wisconsin. The town is based on Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, which has a long history as a mobsters’ hideaway, millionaires’ playground, and vacation mecca, kind of the Hamptons of the Midwest. I grew up in Chicago, and Lake Geneva was the place we went to gawp at the big mansions and see how the other half (or maybe the other 1%) lived.
As for the characters, Delilah opens a deep-dish pizza restaurant in partnership with her wealthy fiancé, with whom she also shares a rather shonky, strong-willed cat named Butterball. One of the characters is a police detective who happens to be the great-grandson of Al Capone. It’s a great small-town setting, and of course, there are plenty of murders to keep things interesting.
Whether I intend to or not, I always end up exploring aspects of my own personality through my characters. Like me, Delilah struggles with perfectionism and a tendency to be controlling. Her best friend Sonya taps into the sassy commentary that’s running in my head pretty much 24-7. And the cat? Like all cats, he doesn’t care much about anyone’s opinions but his own. I guess he’s my unbridled id!
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to experience from your work?
Mindy: When you think of a show like Modern Family, it’s not about LGBT rights, but Americans getting to know the gay couple in that show helped move the needle on marriage equality. I know too many people who have to put up with prejudice, bullying, and other garbage simply because of who they are. My writing uses a very light touch, but I think being able to laugh about differences helps “defang” social issues and expose our common humanity. In my books, love always wins, and I’ll keep on writing until love wins in the world, too.
KRL: What is your ideal time to write?
Mindy: My husband and I trade off putting our son to bed each night. On my nights off, I write from 7 to 9 or 10 p.m. I still have a part-time day job, and during working hours, I get pulled in a million different directions. In the evening, though, email and social media are quiet and I can focus. The only downside is that I often have trouble sleeping if I’m in the throes of a plotting dilemma. My brain can’t switch off until I’ve figured out what happens next.
KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?
Mindy: I usually write in order, starting with Chapter 1. It’s probably my training as a project manager, but I treat the plot and subplot like a complex, multifaceted project.
To me, it doesn’t do much good to focus on the main story arc and forget about the subplots. Plot points have a domino effect. If your main character’s house gets broken into, she has to clean up the mess, get a locksmith, live somewhere else for a while, or whatever. She might become paranoid about being left alone. Actions have consequences, both in real terms and in terms of character development.
I usually plot my novels using little paper strips. I write down the significant plot and sub-plot moments, then I lay them all out in order. Sometimes I realize that something that I’d planned to happen late in the novel actually needs to happen earlier, so that other, dependent plots can be set in motion. Many times, I realize that what sounded good inside my brain doesn’t make a damn bit of sense when I look at it alongside everything else.
When I finish this paper plotting process, I type everything into a Word document with my book’s title. So usually, by the time I actually start writing, I already have a 2-3 page plot document to structure my work. It avoids the dreaded blinking-cursor-on-blank-page and instills me with confidence that I know what story I’m going to tell.
All of this is, of course, highly mutable. For the third book in the Deep Dish Mysteries series, I tried “pantsing,” as winging it is called in writer parlance. The stress of not knowing what happens next took years off my life. Never again!
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Mindy: I found an agent for A Murder in Mount Moriah almost immediately, within about six weeks of starting to send out query letters. I thought I was some sort of literary wunderkind! LOL. But finding a publisher was a struggle. Although my character is a minister, it didn’t fit comfortably in the Christian literature category, and it touched on some social issues that weren’t found in cozy mysteries very often back then. It finally landed at a small publisher that’s now defunct, but in those early days of Kindle and Audible, the series was fortunate enough to be able to get a lot of visibility without having a gigantic marketing machine behind it.
I was at a conference recently, talking to the awesome, hilarious mystery and romance writer Julie Lindsey (read her books!). We both mostly write on contract for large publishing houses now, publishers who give us fairly clear guidance on what to write. For my new series, the Deep Dish Mysteries, for example, I knew the publisher wanted a small-town setting with pizza and a cat. But when I wrote the Mount Moriah Mysteries, I didn’t have an agent or publisher, so I just wrote what I wanted. Julie said the same about her first series. Although she and I were both writing cozy mysteries, neither of us really had a clue what a cozy mystery was, or how many different sub-genres there are within each genre’s designation. Romance > Paranormal > Werewolves & Shifters, anyone?
KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?
Mindy: Toward the end of 2018, I felt like my writing career was at a crossroads. I was wondering if I could continue down this road, which is so fraught with rejection. I’d decided that my 40th year was going to be decisive for my writing. But by October 2019, my 41st birthday loomed, and I still felt like an impostor. I blew out the candles on my birthday cake with a heavy heart. The year had come and gone with no real progress. My day job ramped up and I felt pressure to follow the steady paycheck and turn my back on my writing “hobby.”
Then, two days after my 41st birthday, I got a message from Lyndee Walker, a bestselling crime novelist I’d met at a few conferences over the years. She thought I might be a good fit to pitch for a new cozy series involving pizza and a cat. I pitched my idea, and I got the contract.
When I told my sister about this unexpected turn of events, she reminded me how only weeks earlier, I’d decided to throw in the towel on my writing dreams. “You never know when your pizza cat mystery will come along,” has since become our family’s version of “Persistence pays off.”
KRL: Who are your writing heroes?
Mindy: I’m currently reading Richard Osman’s latest Thursday Murder Club book, and I’ve finally gotten around to starting Sujata Massey’s Perveen Mistry series. Richard Osman has a gift for creating distinctive, charming characters, and damn, is he funny! Massey’s books are blowing my mind. Her gift for sumptuous, tactile details is remarkable.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Mindy: My life is basically a long collection of surreal incidents and brushes with fame. I did voiceover work for a short Claymation film. I worked for several years as the personal assistant to Sir Ian Wilmut, the scientist who cloned Dolly the sheep, and co-authored a paper with him. I was a contestant on a game show in the UK (I lost). I worked for a research clinic funded by J.K. Rowling, and once she and I stood in a shower together – it was off, and we were fully clothed! I had dinner in a castle with a man who’d just won the Nobel prize in Medicine. I helped Virginia Senator Mark Warner kill a millipede during a cocktail party. I could go on, and it only gets weirder.
KRL: Wow those are all interesting and surprising!
To enter to win a copy of Six Feet Deep Dish , simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “dish,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 29, 2022. 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–we will delete it 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 with an episode perfect for your Halloween listening.
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