Penne 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.