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Startling Secrets Uncovered When a Husband DiesPenne Dreadful is the debut novel in Catherine Bruns Italian Chef Mysteries series The storyline flows smoothly in this steadily paced cozy whodunit, and the affable characters are well developed There are plenty of twists and turns, red herrings, and suspects to keep the reader engaged I recommend this book to readers who enjoy reading well crafted cozy mysteries.Tessa Esposito is a talented chef who recently lost her husband in a tragic automobile accident, and her family and friends are worried about her As Tessa tries to cope with her loss, Gino Mancusi, her cousin and a Harvest Park detective, approaches her with startling news they believe his vehicle was tampered with and that Dylan s death might not have been an accident Gino suggests she apply for a job at Dylan s favorite pizza parlor, Slice Pizzeria, and keep her eyes and ears open and hopefully discover something that might help him get a warrant to search the place Tessa begins to view everyone as a suspect, but quickly tries to dismiss each one, but Gabby, Gino s younger sister and Tessa s best friend who owns a small bookstore in Harvest Park, encourages her to keep an open mind and not dismiss anyone as a suspect As Tessa looks into her husband s death, she discovers startling secrets and realizes she may not have really known the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with As Tessa and Gabby try to sort through the things she learns and narrow down the suspect list, they find themselves in harm s way.I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book. Tessa Esposito has had her life turned upside down Her husband has been killed in a car accident, leaving her a widow at 30 However, she is about to get another shock Her cousin Gino, a cop, stops by to visit and drops the bombshell on her the police don t think the accident was an accident at all Instead, they think it was murder And he suggests that someone at Slice, the local pizza parlor where Dylan had lunch most days, might be responsible After all, he was last seen alive leaving the restaurant Tessa loves to cook, and Slice just happens to be advertising for a cook, so she snags the job, hoping to get a clue about what really happened to her husband But her co workers don t seem to happy to see her Is she going to be able to get anything out of them With Tessa s husband being the victim, this book starts out with a somber tone Some events try to lighten it, but it didn t quite work for me After a bit of time to set up the characters and plot, things take off, and the book becomes impossible to put down Tessa must unpeel the layers like an onion, and each new layer has a twist that kept me hooked until I reached the end The suspects are all strong, and Tessa is a sympathetic lead character It is easy to understand everything she is going through The potential series regulars have a little room to grow, but that s because they weren t on the page too much That s what sequels are for, right I did find some inconsistencies in the timeline late in the book, but nothing that ruins the plot at all My biggest complaint is how much Tessa s love life was a sub plot it s something that should have been held until at least the next book in the series in my opinion The book has some delicious sounding recipes at the end, including Tessa s prize winning tomato sauce Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I am looking forward to seeing what happens to Tessa next.NOTE I received an ARC of this book.Read my full review at Carstairs Considers. Tessa Esposito is still grieving over the death of husband, Dylan, after a tragic car accident However, when her cousin Gino, a detective, informs her that it might not have been such an accident after all, she vows to do anything to help the investigation So she ties on an apron and nabs a job at Slice, a pizza parlor and the last place Dylan was seen alive Soon she s embroiled in a family business where everyone has something to hide But the real trouble starts when her own husband s secrets start to overboil.Don t be distracted by mouth watering prose devoted to cheese stacked pizza, sauce laden pasta, and aromatic garlic bread Along with plenty of rich descriptions of Italian favorites, Catherine Bruns has cooked up a delicious mystery.A lot of this success relies on Tessa Stuck at an incredibly low point only weeks after the death of her husband, she struggles pulling herself into a new, functional normal And yet, when called into action to uncover the truth, she does so Bruns expertly navigates her complex emotions as Tessa figures out how to conduct an investigation whether she s questioning suspects or using cooking as a distraction The result is that Tessa feels real Strong, funny, and focused on justice, she compellingly holds the story together.She s also backed up by a quirky yet realistic cast of secondary characters Her cousin Gabby serves as her investigative partner of sorts and provides some refreshing relief when things get complicated Gino proves an effective connection to the police department, doling out information while taking Tessa to task for getting too involved And then there s Slice, where everyone has their guard up while proving the ultimate foil to Tessa s prying Together, they form a fully realized community that s easy to slip into.All of this focus on complex characters is not to suggest that Bruns skimps on the mystery Rather, she dishes out extra helpings Tessa has a credible reason for getting involved as a sleuth how can she not find justice for her husband And from that comes a puzzle that bucks and weaves, twisting into a well constructed mess Just when everything seems to click into place, Bruns tosses out an extra piece And yet, through all that chaos comes an ending that makes sense while offering a surprise or two A compelling sleuth A difficult mystery It s like five star dining with a bit of murder.Note I received a free ARC of this book through NetGalley. Dollycas s ThoughtsWas local chef Tessa Esposito s husband not the man she thought he was A few weeks have passed since he was killed in a fatal accident and now police have decided he may have been murdered Her cousin, Detective Gino Mancusi brings her the news and has an idea for her to help solve the case He wants her to apply for a job at her husband s favorite pizza place, a place he spent quite a bit of time, and work undercover keeping her eyes and ears open Tessa agrees but she does than that She starts asking questions and nosing around on her own Her husband was a successful accountant, why would anyone what him dead She better be careful or she could be next.I am shocked to see this is the first book I have read by this author It sure won t be the last.Catherine Bruns has created wonderful three dimensional characters Tessa is a protagonist I get really get on board with A chef with a dream of having her own Italian restaurant for families She loves to cook for others Her dream was shared by her husband Dylan and his death rocked her to her core When she learns his death was not an accident she turns into a woman with such strength and courage to bring his killer down She does make some poor decisions but she is hellbent on getting justice for her husband even as she learns the man had secrets than she ever could ever imagine.Her cousins Gino and Gabby play a major part in her life Gino s quest is to keep her safe and best friend Gabby is a great partner and sounding board They stick together through thick and thin and scary.The story the author has created has of an edge than your typical cozy mystery Right after one scene occurred I had to check to see if the story was actually classified as cozy After that scene though we mostly get back to that cozier feel I would rather have a scene like that in my cozy than the curse words that are seeming to pop up and these days in this genre.Ms Bruns does set a lively pace with plenty of action and twists The closer we get to the end the pace accelerates making it impossible to put this book down until the last page is reached Tense moments prevail that truly did keep me right on the edge of my seat.Oh my goodness, the food described throughout this mystery was absolutely mouthwatering From pizzas to Tessa s Tantalizing Tomato Sauce I was craving Italian food for days Thankfully my husband has some great recipes up his sleeve The author does include some recipes at the end of the story too.I love the theme and these characters I am beyond excited for the next book in this series. This book was so good that I devoured it in almost one sitting It was so sweet in some places especially at the end when everything came together for Tessa This was a complex case with a couple of different mysteries going on that sort of tied together I don t want to say too much or spoil anything, but there was an exciting showdown where Luigi the cat came in very handy The ending gave me leaky eyes, but happy ones I really love the characters of Tessa, her police detective cousin Gino and his sister Gabby who happens to be Tessa s best friend I m really anxious now to read the next book Penne Dreadful is the first book in An Italian Chef Mystery series Tessa Esposito is from a large Italian family and she is known for cooking up a delectable tomato sauce She lost her beloved husband, Dylan five weeks ago and she has been holed up in her home ever since When her cousin and police officer, Gino Mancusi tells that Dylan s car had been tampered with, Tessa is determined to find out who committed the crime As Tessa searches for the guilty party, we are introduced to a variety of characters townspeople, Dylan s co workers, Tessa s friends and family I liked Gino, Gabby, Vince, and Justin They enhance the story especially Gabby Tessa also owns a tuxedo cat named Luigi Tessa was a hard person for me to like from the way she acted in Penne Dreadful She is determined to get answers no matter what the cost We follow her as she makes enquiries and sneaks around looking for clues Tessa is blunt when she asks questions and her snooping is not sneaky Tessa frequently gets herself into sticky situations and takes unnecessary risks I did not know if she had a death wish or was oblivious to the danger I did not find some of the situations to be unbelievable, but, of course, this is fiction I hope Tessa improves her questioning technique in future books along with her stealth The mystery was multifaceted with red herrings, multiple suspects and a twist Those who are not avid cozy mystery readers will be surprised by the guilty person s identity I thought Penne Dreadful was a slow starter, but the action does pick up in the second half of the book There were repetitive details that could have been eliminated along with the foul language I was surprised there was a love interest for Tessa so soon I hope that the author will let the relationship progress at a relaxed pace I enjoyed the descriptions of Tessa s Italian dishes and there are recipes at the end of the book Penne Dreadful has pizza pies, family meals, unexpected revelations, simmering sauce, suspicious suspects, and one determined widow. Tessa Esposito is still struggling to get through her days It s been a few weeks since her husband died in a car accident Now she learns that his death was not an accident Gino, her police officer cousin let her know before the news hit the streets She is asked to take a job at one of the restaurants where her husband was last known to be, and to snoop around if possible While asking questions about Dylan s death, she learns that her marriage may not have been as happy as she had thought it was Her husband had been keeping secrets from her Lots of secrets Now she questions who he really was, and if anything he had told her was the truth Tessa stirs up quite the hornets nest with her unwanted questions And in the process puts not only her own life on the line, but also that of her cousin Gabby s, who owns a local book store This is a fun story that is of a traditional mystery than that of a Cozy, which Catherine s other stories are It has well developed characters, a strong story line, and descriptions that draw you into the story almost from the first line of the story and keeps your attention throughout.I received this copy from NetGalley. Suspense, betrayal and twists and turns abound in this debut book in the in the Italian Chef Mystery series In picturesque Harvest Park, NY everyone knows everyone Most of the businesses are locally owned and family ties and friendships are paramount But a cloud of suspicion settles over the town when Tessa Esposito finds herself prematurely widowed at the age of 30 and the police deem the accident he died in was not so accidental Devastated and disconcerted, Tessa vows to find the individual responsible for her beloved husband s death She takes a job at her husband s favorite lunch destination to learn about the conversations he had shortly before his crash But she quickly finds herself entangled in secrets and clues that lead her in all sorts of directions This is a great start to a new cozy mystery series There is a quirky ensemble of likable characters, the perfect ratio of charm to suspense and an amusing, satisfying and multilayered plot. PENNE DREADFUL is the first in a new series by Catherine Bruns featuring Tessa, a young, recently widowed Italian who loves to cook The series, Italian Chef Series, is proposed to follow Tessa as she adjusts to widowhood, and, of course, solves mysteries she is compelled to solve In this first book of the series, Tessa is in the early stages of widowhood, finding it hard to get out and begin living again This is immediately compounded when her policeman cousin, Gino, tells her the apparent accident that killed her husband was no accident but rather murder He then suggests Tessa get a job at the local pizzeria where her husband was just prior to getting into his car and driving to his death Tessa agrees to this suggestion, determined to find the murderer of her husband Later we learn the suggestion was not so much to engage Tessa in sleuthing but rather to get her out of the house By that time, though, it is too late Tessa has done some digging, been the target of some threatening activity and become determined than ever to find out who was responsible for her husband s death There are multiple twists and turns throughout the book as Tessa tried to investigate the owner of the pizzeria, his daughter, other employees, etc through her work In addition, there is some suggestion that her former boyfriend who appears to still be carrying a torch for Tessa, may be guilty of the murder himself Tessa spends her time running around town, asking pointed questions and snooping around places where her husband last spent his time, oblivious to the potential danger to herself The reader can easily follow Tessa as she explores the possibility of first one then another of the characters who might have a reason to have murdered her husband She is routinely getting into sticky situations and taking risks that make it a bit hard to believe she would actually explore some of the places and or people, It s as if she has no clue what might be dangerous or what might be better left done with stealth or in a surreptitious way This made it a bit hard to maintain believability in the book and Tessa s activities The twist and reveal of the murderer at the end of the book was good although perhaps somewhat predictable to the veteran mystery reader Hopefully, as the series continues Tessa will become sophisticated in her investigative techniques There are some interesting side characters who will hopefully add depth and increase interest in the series These include Gino, Tessa s policeman cousin, Gabby, his sister and Tessa s close friend, and Vince the new owner of the pizzeria and potentially Tessa s partner In addition, there are two men who present potential love interests for Tessa, Justin, a long time friend and her husband s best friend and Matt, her former boyfriend with whom she has a complicated history and relationship In addition to the mystery, the book also has several recipes appended to the end and promises with future books For anyone interested in trying new Italian recipes, this may be just the extra something they need to engage them in a new series Thank you to NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press for an Advance Reader Copy of the novel in exchange for an unbiased review. `READ EBOOK ☔ Penne Dreadful ⇨ Tomato Sauce Isn T The Only Thing That Runs RedLocal Chef Tessa Esposito Is Struggling To Get Back On Her Feet Following Her Husband S Fatal Accident And When The Police Knock On Tessa S Door, Things Just Get Worse They Ve Discovered Dylan S Death Wasn T An Accident After All, And They Need Tessa To Start Filling In The Blanks Who Would Want Her Beloved Husband Dead, And Why With The Investigation Running Cold, Tessa Decides It S Time To Save Her Sanity By Reconnecting With Her First Love Cooking And Maybe The Best Way Back Into The Kitchen Is To Infiltrate Dylan S Favorite Local Pizza Parlor, Which Also Happens To Be The Last Place He Was Seen Before He Died But The Anchovies Aren T The Only Thing That Stink Inside The Small Family Business, And With Suspects Around Every Corner, Tessa Finds That Her Husband S Many Secrets Might Land Her In Hot Water