Monday, May 23, 2011

Review: A Pizza to Die For

Summary: Though it’s an unseasonably chilly October in Timber Ridge, North Carolina, Eleanor Swift is warm and cozy in A Slice of Delight—her scrumptious pizzeria. But when snooty Judson Sizemore breezes into town to open an upper-crust pizza parlor nearby, Eleanor’s biggest worry is that her beloved restaurant’s days may be numbered…until she hears Judson’s days have come to a most gruesome end…

Since half the town saw Judson causing a ruckus in A Slice of Delight before he expired, Eleanor and her saucy sister, Maddie, are the prime suspects. The only way out is to prove their innocence. Soon, a little surreptitious sleuthing reveals that the dough behind Judson’s impending pizzeria came from Timber Ridge’s resident recluse: crusty oddball millionaire Nathan Pane. It turns out he’s Judson’s long-lost uncle…and someone is after him, too.

As Eleanor digs deeper, her suspect list grows longer than the local soccer team’s pizza order—and life in the once quiet town heats up like Maddie’s five-alarm Volcano pie. Could it be Judson’s gold-digging sister? Or her secret boyfriend? Between working on the case, keeping her customers happy, and even finding time for an old flame, Eleanor’s plate is full. But with an unhinged murderer closing in, she’ll have to move very quickly—and very carefully—because the killer is already much closer than she thinks… -- Kensington

After a few weeks of reading (and enjoying) cozies, I've decided that it might not be the best thing for my diet. For some reason, I am not only drawn to cute cozies, but I'm also attracted to the series that pertain for food! I love reading about food and if recipes are included in the book, all the better. So when I found out that there is a series of Pizza Lovers Mysteries, I just knew I had to check one out!

A PIZZA TO DIE FOR by Chris Cavender is the third book in the series, and it does talk about pizza a lot! I was hungry and craving good pizza (we don't have good pizza here in Central Pennsylvania) the entire time I read this cute story. There was even a yummy sounding recipe for a Deep Dish Pizza Filling and Topping included in the back of the book. While I'm not a fan of thick crusts, the recipe did look awfully good.

I find it difficult to write reviews about cozy mysteries. I think readers either like this genre or not. Having said that, I did find A PIZZA TO DIE FOR to be a good read. It was a fun way to spend a few hours and just escape from life. The story was cute, the cast of characters was likable, and the mystery kept me guessing. As far as I'm concerned, that's what I look for in a cozy.

The Pizza Lovers Mysteries are about Eleanor, a young widow who runs a small town pizzeria in North Carolina. She also likes to help solve murders in her free time. In A PIZZA TO DIE FOR, a slick guy comes to town an decides to open a fancy pizza joint -- right down the street from Eleanor's shop. When he is mysteriously found dead in his new restaurant, Eleanor is a prime suspect. With the help of some friends, Eleanor proves her innocence while, at the same time, finding the real murderer.

I really liked Eleanor's character as well as her spunky sister. In addition, I thought the supporting characters were intriguing, especially some of the people involved with the victim. I found that the mystery was a good one. I didn't solve the crime until the very end of the book, but I admit that I don't spend a lot of time trying to figure out the culprits when I read a cozy. And there were quite a few twists and surprises that made things interesting for me.

While I would have preferred to start on the first book in the series (because that's my natural inclination), I didn't have any problem following the story or the characters. There were plenty of references to the past two books (without spoilers!), and A PIZZA TO DIE FOR definitely worked as a stand-alone. That's probably because the author of the book, Chris Cavender, is a long-time pro at writing mystery novels. Chris Cavender is actually a pseudonym for an author who has been nominated for an Agatha Award and been on the Mystery Booksellers Association national bestseller list nine times.

I did have to chuckle at a scene in A PIZZA TO DIE FOR when one of the characters references an old mystery series that was dropped by the publisher. I have a feeling this was a little jab from the author, and I found it to be quite funny!

If you are fan of cozies or foodie books, then I definitely suggest trying out A PIZZA TO DIE FOR or any of the books in the Pizza Lovers Mystery series!

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a "somewhat" regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! It's appearing one day early this week because I have a scheduled tour for tomorrow. Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


Peaceful Reader said...

I adore pizza and reading it about would defitetely make me hungry for it. The fact that is written by a well-known mystery writer with a pseudonym adds to the mysterious fun! Great reveiw.

Anonymous said...

Now I so want pizza! This sounds like an enjoyable mystery.

Anonymous said...

Ok, that is a seriously yummy cover. Oh, sounds like a good story, too...;O)