Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Crime of the Ancient Marinara (Tuscan Cooking School Mystery #2)


Crime of the Ancient Marinara is the second Tuscan Cooking School cozy mystery by Stephanie Cole. Released 26th January 2021 by Penguin Random House on their Berkley imprint, it's 304 pages and available in paperback, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

This is an engaging cozy mystery set in the Italian countryside around gastro-tourism and a high end cooking school which the expat American main character Nell Valenti is setting up at a villa/convent. Five Americans show up for the first run and it's not long until murder shows up to complicate things for Nell & co.

This is one of those books with a punny title, outlandish setup, strong romance subplot, clean language, non-gory murder, and some recipes included in the back of the book (not included in the early eARC provided for review - so I can't comment on the specific recipes, but they're usually pretty good). It's undemanding and well paced and written, professionally edited and polished. I confess I was hindered in my reading enjoyment because I didn't find Nell a particularly sympathetic or relatable character. She seemed very prickly and petty throughout most of the book. 

Well written with a satisfying denouement. Three and a half stars. I would recommend it to fans of the first book in the series and to readers who enjoy the genre. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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