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Pie a la Murder
A Della Cooks Mystery, No 7
Melinda Wells (aka Linda Palmer)

July 2011/ ISBN 978-0-425-24221-6
Mystery/Amateur Sleuth/Cozy

Reviewed by Laura Hinds

Della Carmichael is not only a fantastic cook; she owns a cooking school and has her very own cooking show on cable television. Her love life is moving along smoothly with boyfriend Nicholas D’Martino, a newspaper reporter, and her home life is happy with her dog Tuffy and her cat Emma and tenant Eileen O’Hara, who is like a daughter to Della. It all sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately for Della, things start to fall apart at a very rapid pace. First Nicholas tells her that he has an 18-year-old daughter whom he failed to mention before. He hasn’t seen her since she was a baby, and her mother (his ex-wife) spirited her away to live overseas. To make matters worse, the daughter, Celeste, is arriving in LA to get to know her father; and it’s not long before her mother and current lover follow in her wake. After Della’s best friend, Liddy, introduces Celeste to a famous photographer, the downhill slide of Della’s life continues to gain momentum.

The photographer is murdered in cold blood, and Nicholas is a suspect! He was the one to find the body and had a strong motive: Alec Redding had taken a risqué shot of Celeste that would be enough to enrage any father. To make matters worse, Nicholas won’t cooperate with police and Della begins to suspect he is covering up for his daughter, who may be the actual killer. It isn’t long before there is another killing and this time Della feels responsible. The murder victim is a young reporter who Della had sent off on a trail to find out who really killed Alec Redding.

While trying to help the police without getting herself into trouble, Della also has to teach her cooking classes on air and off, and help promote a national bake sale contest to raise money for charities. It’s a good thing she has Liddy to rely on for help, and her dog Tuffy to love her no matter what, because Della’s stress levels are about to go through the roof.

I really enjoy this series, and this book is the best yet. The story is compelling, and there are many twists and turns and some downright exciting moments that had my heart pounding as I eagerly turned the pages to find out what happened next. I read the book in one day, chiefly because I couldn’t put it down for long. It is a cozy mystery, and a very well written one at that, yet the thrilling moments when the protagonist is in trouble read almost like a true crime novel.That helps separate this book from the usual pack of traditional cozy mysteries.

As an added bonus, this book has recipes at the back. Many more than most books offer, in fact. There are 20 pages of recipes that run the gamut from pot roast to vegetables and, of course, desserts.

If you like a good mystery, a well-written story and likeable characters, this book is for you. It’s an excellent summer read, fine for the beach, but you might want to read it at home so you can whip up a recipe or two between chapters. Hint: look over the recipes at the back first and make a grocery store run so you have ingredients on hand!

Reviewer Note: Della Cooks Mystery Series...

Reviewer Laura Hinds is the author of Are You Gonna Eat That Banana?
Reviewed 2011
© 2011