Sunday, July 19, 2020

Penne Dreadful - A Review


PENNE DREADFUL by Catherine Bruns
The First Italian Chef Mystery

Tessa Esposito is coping, though just barely, after a car accident killed her husband. Hoping to get her interested in life and living, her cousin Gino suggests she take a job at Slice, the pizzeria her husband frequented. Although a far cry from her previous job as cook in a more upscale restaurant, Tessa jumps at the opportunity when Gino, who also happens to be a police detective, tells her that her husband's accident appears to be murder. Hoping to learn more about her husband's last days, Tessa is unprepared for the loathing she finds from her new co-workers. Did one of them have something to do with her husband's untimely demise? Is something shady going on there? As Tessa uncovers more surprises about her husband she wonders if she ever really knew him. Will Tessa find the truth? Does she really want to know? 

In PENNE DREADFUL we meet a grieving widow and a whole bunch of suspicious characters. There are so many shady people living in these pages! I certainly don't think I'd be picking up a pie at Slice with that staff! I appreciate Tessa's determination to discover the truth and her realistic emotions as she does. The author has placed her on a roller coaster ride of emotions. She is at times, sad, angry, stunned, and determined...sometimes all at once.

It's fascinating how the mystery in this first Italian Chef mystery unfolds. I like how Tessa peels back the layers of her husband's life almost as if she's peeling an onion for some sauce...and both will make her cry. Although grieving, Tessa never folds, no matter what comes at her...and a lot comes at her!

PENNE DREADFUL is a mystery featuring complex characters circling each other as they look for the truth or try to hide it. There are some high octane scenes that provide an adrenaline rush, as well as scenes to make you laugh. There are also descriptions of Tessa's cooking that will make your stomach rumble. All in all PENNE DREADFUL is a great start to a new series imbued with Italian food and spirit.

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