Kirkus Reviews QR Code
PENNE DREADFUL  by Catherine Bruns


by Catherine Bruns

Pub Date: Aug. 6th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-4926-8425-1
Publisher: Sourcebooks

A talented amateur chef turns pro in an attempt to solve her husband’s murder.

Opening her own restaurant had always been Tessa Esposito’s dream—a dream she shared with her husband, Dylan, whose accounting expertise would have put him in the office while she was behind the stove. Before Dylan’s sudden death in an auto accident, Tessa’s only experience cooking for the public was a couple of months at Sunnyside Up, a local breakfast place. But she’s reeling from losing her young husband, so when Tessa’s police-detective cousin, Gino Mancusi, tries to interest her in a job at Slice, Anthony Falducci’s pizzeria, she’s pretty underwhelmed. At least, until Gino reveals that Dylan’s death was not an accident and that before his crash, he was spending an awful lot of time with Anthony and his brother, Vince. Approximately one minute later, Tessa’s out the door to grab a job application. Anthony snaps her up on the spot, and next thing you know, Tessa’s stretching dough, cooking up her signature sauce (based on her grandmother’s secret recipe), and even whipping up a stromboli or two, hoping to expand Anthony’s meager menu. But stripped-down as the food offerings may be, there are clues aplenty at Slice: weird phone messages, sketchy delivery drivers, bags of white powder stashed in the walk-in, and endless mixed messages about whether Dylan was hitting on Anthony’s daughter, Isabella, or Izzy was chasing Dylan. By the time Tessa sorts out what’s what, she may have made herself her husband’s killer’s next target.

Bruns, author of the Cindy York, Carrie Jorgenson, and Cookies and Chance mysteries, must have the stamina of a short order cook. Her new heroine’s sauce may be spicy, but her plotting needs a bit more polish to break away from the crowded culinary cozy pack.