Friday, August 9, 2013

Review and Giveaway: Death Al Dente

Death Al Dente (Food Lovers' Village Mystery - Book 1) by Leslie Budewitz

Publication Date: 08/06/2013
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 304
ISBN-10: 0425259544
ISBN-13: 978-042525942

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Leslie Budewitz on the WEB: Website, Blog, Facebook, Goodreads

Excerpt from Death Al Dente, courtesy of the author's website.


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…


The Food Lovers Village Mystery series begins with the first book, Death Al Dente. Author Leslie Budewitz gives readers a new cozy series with a culinary twist. Heroine Erin Murphy is taking over the family business and turning a general store into an artisan market featuring homegrown and regional favorites from across Montana. Jewel Bay will never be the same. Budewitz writes with command and with a purpose. Her writing is straightforward and her characters are full of surprises. Budewitz serves up mouth watering treats as well as murder in this first in a series book, that readers will find simply delicious! 

I'll be the first to tell you that I tend to love culinary cozies. If it's set on a farm or a market or anything involving tasty foods and interesting circumstances I'm all in. Death Al Dente was right up my alley. I loved the whole artisan market concept. A store focusing on homegrown and regional fare is something I wish just about every community had. When I travel and go places I love to sample the local cuisine and this book really put me in that mind set. I think Budewitz has hit on a great idea for a cozy series and has executed it perfectly with this first book.

There are few cozies that hit a home run with the first book in the series. Often readers are just getting to know the hero or heroine and there is a lot of background necessary. In some instances that takes away from the actual mystery of the first book. Not so with Death Al Dente. Budewitz uses a perfect balance to keep this book from stalling out in the details. She doesn't tell the reader everything there is to know about Erin Murphy or about Jewel Bay. Budewitz just lets the details flow naturally and doesn't rush the reader into feeling anything for the town or it's inhabitants. Letting them draw their own conclusions and it proves to be a great strategy.

I enjoyed the mystery aspect of the book very much. Erin's mother Fresca becomes the lead suspect after the stabbing of a former employee, who had a beef with her and her Italian recipes. There were plenty of quirky and eccentric suspects that begin to show the depth of this small town. The motives are anything but normal and Erin's "spreadsheet" detective work is unexpected and interesting. 

Erin is not what I expected in a main character. I didn't think she put things together as quickly as some amateur sleuths in the genre, but who wants every main character to be the same? I liked the fact that Budewitz didn't feel the need to be a copy cat. Her story and her characters are original and have a lot of potential. We found out some things about Erin, but I have a feeling there is a lot more to find out.

Supporting characters like Erin's mom, Fresca and her cat, Sandburg moved the plot along and provided some comic relief as well. Cozies are meant to be lighter than your average mystery and Budewitz pulls that off well. Murder is of course a sobering subject but it doesn't have to be all gore and grossness. 

I really enjoyed this one and look forward to returning to Jewel Bay again soon. Leslie Budewitz has a great series on her hands. From the gourmet recipes in the back to the twists and turns of a good whodunit.

Death Al Dente is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

About the Author:

Leslie Budewitz is passionate about food, great mysteries, and her native Montana. A writer and a lawyer, her first book, Books, Crooks and Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure, won the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction and was nominated for the 2012 Anthony and Macavity awards. Leslie loves to cook, eat, hike, travel, garden, and paint—not necessarily in that order. She lives in northwest Montana with her husband, Don Beans, a doctor of natural medicine, and their Burmese cat, Ruff, an avid bird-watcher.

Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Death Al Dente by Leslie Budewitz.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US Addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, August 23rd.

1. Please leave a comment describing your favorite homegrown food.
2. Please fill out the FORM.


Linda Kish said...

Once again your great review has me drawn in and ready to read this book. I always enjoy your reviews.

Carol N Wong said...

My favorie homegrown thing is Cantaloupes in Southern Indiana. They are huge, sweet and the juice drips down your chin when you eat. You haven't eaten a cantaloupe until you have eaten from Southern Indiana.


holdenj said...

I tend to gravitate toward food cozies too! One of my favorite homegrown foods is one we are enjoying right now--fresh green beans from the garden! Thanks!

Angela Holland said...

I would love to read this book, thank you for the chance to win it. My favorite homegrown food is tomatoes, I love eating them right out of the garden

Rita said...

Sounds like a good read.
My favorite homegrown food is tomatoes, they have such great flavor.

traveler said...

My favorite homegrown food is tomatoes, and basil. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Renee said...

I love this idea for a mystery. Can't wait to read it and try some recipes.

Stephanie Fredrick said...

Love your review as always.
My favorite homegrown food is squash and strawberries. I have a garden that I love and my two favorites always bloom like crazy. Nothing better than picking a strawberry right off the bush and eating.

Melissa Bo said...

My favorite homegrown food is tomatoes! Love to eat them straight from the Garden!

Loved your review!
My favorite kind of cozies feature food!! =)

Sue Farrell said...

I love homegrown tomatoes--nothing in the store can compare. I don't think I've ever read a cozy set in Montana---so I must give this a try.

NoraA said...

It would have to be the ugly tomatoes my son grows in his backyard garden. They are huge, and delicious. I grill them with just a bit of salt and pepper.

Nancy Luebke said...

I would say homegrown cantelopes, although we haven't had good luck with them lately. Too Much drought the last few years in southern indiana. Next best thing is peaches.

Luvdaylilies said...

My fav homegrown food would be green beans, just can't beat the taste of fresh from the garden green beans!
Lethea B

cyn209 said...

my favorite homegrown food is literally from my backyard garden: cherry tomatoes & cucumbers!!!

Tammy Cuevas said...

My favorite homegrown food would be tomatoes. We've had a bumper crop this year!

bn100 said...

homegrown tomatoess

lag123 said...

Tomatoes ! There is nothing better than a tomato sandwich with lots of salt,

Carol M said...

I love homegrown tomatoes. I got spoiled as a child. My grandfather had a small farm and I couldn't wait until the tomatoes were ready to pick!
Thank you for the giveaway!

Elizabeth Schroedle said...

My favorite homegrown foods are tomatoes and radishes.

Wendy Newcomb said...

Great title, thank you for the chance to win this!

My favorite garden vegetable is a tomoto right out of the garden with salt on it, oh YUM!


ann said...

My favorite vegetables that I grow are tomatoes , just eat them right from the garden on bread with mayo - delicious

Lexie said...

My favorite home grown food is
Basil. Because you can make so many fabulous dishes with it! I hope to win I love this cozy but have zero book budget right now. ,

Linda Rima said...

Toss up on favorite homegrown food: homegrown tomatoes or my uncle's peaches! Thanks for the chance on this giveaway. And the great review.

Charlotte said...

The tomatoes and sweet corn that comes out of my husband's garden. Best part of summer.
Another great give away, thank you.

Mary V said...

Thanks for your review...with so many cozy series out there and so little time to read I'm getting very choosy about starting new series. This one looks like a winner!

Piepie said...

One of my favorite homegrown foods is strawberries because you can do so much with them ... they're so versatile! Put them in a salad, add them to an ice cream sundae ... they have such a delightful flavor :)

Theresa N. said...

My favorite is tomatoes fresh from the garden.
theresa n