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Pizza lovers will relish the pseudonymous Cavender's delightful first in a new cozy series, which introduces Eleanor Swift, owner of A Slice of Life, a pizzeria in Timber Ridge, N.C. When late one winter night Eleanor delivers a pizza ("one of my specials decked out with pepperoni, sausage, ham, bacon, hamburger, and little bits of sliced sirloin"), she finds her customer, Richard Olsen, lying dead on the floor with a kitchen knife in his chest. Kevin Hurley, the surly local police chief who pursued her back in high school, responds to her 911 call. Suspecting Eleanor is guilty, Kevin does his best to make her life difficult. Olsen's dotty sister thinks so, too, but once she's convinced of Eleanor's innocence, she asks Eleanor's help in solving the murder. Eleanor's occasionally married sister, Maddy, assists in the sleuthing. A lively pace and a thrilling climax more than compensate for some distracting chatter and not always relevant sibling spats. (Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.