Death al DenteDeath Al Dente by Leslie Budewitz is the first book in the new “Food Lovers’ Village” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, August 2013

The town of Jewel Bay, Montana—known as a Food Lovers’ Village—is obsessed with homegrown and homemade Montana fare. So when Erin Murphy takes over her family’s century-old general store, she turns it into a boutique market filled with local delicacies. But Erin’s freshly booming business might go rotten when a former employee turns up dead.

Murphy’s Mercantile, known as the Merc, has been a staple in Jewel Bay for over a hundred years. To celebrate their recent makeover as a gourmet food market, Erin has organized a town festival, Festa di Pasta, featuring the culinary goods of Jewel Bay’s finest—including her mother Fresca’s delicious Italian specialties.

But Erin’s sweet success is soured when the shop’s former manager, Claudette, is found dead behind the Merc on the Festa’s opening night. With rival chef James Angelo stirring up rumors that Fresca’s sauce recipes were stolen from Claudette, Erin’s mother is under close scrutiny. Now Erin will have to hunt down some new suspects, or both her family and her store might wind up in hot water.

When her mother becomes the prime suspect in her ex-employee’s death, Erin with her spreadsheet will do everything possible to clear her mother’s name and reputation. This enjoyable read was hard to put down. I love the tone of the story and how it flowed giving us a glimpse into the characters’ lives. With each character introduction, I was left with “are they the killer” or “just an innocent bystander”. It was fun getting to know the ins-and-outs of Jewel Bay and how they all intermingled with one another. With a good solid plot and subplot, the mysteries enticed me to read more as I narrowed down the list of suspects. I love the small town feel and the dialogue was entertaining. This delightfully charming debut series is a fresh, homegrown whodunit that satisfied my thirst for adventure and I can’t wait to see what happens next in Jewel Bay. Bonus recipes are included.

FTC Full Disclosure – I bought this book.

previously posted on the Cozy Chicks blog

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