This was a new cozy mystery series by Leslie Budewitz that I selected to meet a challenge prompt for the year. This book won the Agatha Award for best first novel in May 2013. I selected it for my GirlXOXO Award book for May. I now have a new series I would like to get caught up on reading.
The book introduces us to Erin Morgan as she is preparing to play hostess to her brainchild, the Festa in Pasta celebration, in her hometown of Jewel Bay, Montana. She has recently returned to manage the family store, the Glacier Mercantile (the Merc), which has been in her family for generations. Her return assists her mom with management assistance when her previous manager, and friend, Claudette suddenly departed for Vegas with her philandering boyfriend, Dean. Dean abandons his estranged wife and twin daughters and headed to Vegas to pursuing his Elvis impersonation dreams.
Their sudden return to Jewel Bay is met with high emotions and swirling rumors. Erin encounters Claudette while running a last minute errand and invites her to the dinner to kick off the festival. Claudette agrees but never makes it to the party.
The book centers around a murder and the attention of the police focused on Erin's mother as the primary suspect. To complicate things even more, the chief investigator is Erin's bff growing up, Kim. They had grown apart at the end of High School but the relationship with the family was a part of their childhood. This made the suspicion even more painful for Erin.
Much of the beginning of the book focuses on Erin's internal thoughts and emotions. The real action begins toward the middle of the book. Budewitz has twisted many plot lines and false leads together to create a fun mystery. The relationships of all the characters is complicated by the small town and all that comes with small town living. The characters relationships are accurately depicted and represent what many individuals experience when returning to where they grew up.
Death Al Dente by Leslie Budewitz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
We meet Erin Murphy, the manager of her family’s business, the Glacier Mercantile, as she is preparing for the Festa. This is a town wide festival she has spearheaded up return to Jewel Bay from Seattle. The party offers the opportunity for the reader to be introduced to a large number of characters quickly, who also quickly become suspects. The festival quickly has a damper placed on it when a guest is murdered as they enter the party
The long time friend of her mother, Fresca, returns to town after a short stint in Vegas. Claudette had abruptly left MT 6 months prior with her Elvis impersonator, philandering boyfriend, Dean. Her return is swirling with rumors about her departure from the Merc and her relationship with the Murphy family. On top of that, her love triangle is crazy gossip fodder in a small town.
The book is full of characters and the dynamics of family and small town life. Erin finds herself defending her mother in the eyes of the law, who happens to be he ex best friend from HS, Kim.
During the course of the investigation the reader gets a glimpse at the thoughts and ideas as they course through Erin’s mind. There are plenty of twists and turns in the plot line and lots of red herrings thrown in to keep the reader and Erin guessing. In the end the guilty party is caught.
The book started a bit slow but really got rolling as it progressed. Budewitz does a good job balancing description of the Montana landscape with the storyline and characters. I look forward to reading more of the Food Lovers Village mysteries and visiting with the Murphy clan and their neighbors in Jewel Bay
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Challenge PromptsThe Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:
- Library Love #LibraryLoveChallenge - Book #43
- Literary Escapes- MT
- Cravings for a Cozy and Cloak and Dagger #CloakDaggerChal : Book #36
- Cruising through cozies - Free choice #7
- Medical Examiner- 1 Toe Tag
- Six Shooter- 1st shot for Leslie Budewitz
- Mystery Bingo:
- Red Herring : Ex Spouse
- Crime Scenes: Alley
- TBR Book #28 #Backlistreader ; #MountTBR2020; #StartOnYourShelfathon
- Monthly Book Award- #GXOAwardReadingChallenge