Two Cooks A-Killing: An Angie Amalfi Mysteryby Joanne Pence
Nothing could drag chef Angie Amalfi away from San Francisco and her beloved policeman fiance Paavo Smith –– except for a job preparing the banquet her all–time favorite soap opera characters will consume during an upcoming Christmas Reunion Special. So Angie eagerly takes off for the estate where the now–defunct "Eagle Crest" was originally… See more details below
Nothing could drag chef Angie Amalfi away from San Francisco and her beloved policeman fiance Paavo Smith –– except for a job preparing the banquet her all–time favorite soap opera characters will consume during an upcoming Christmas Reunion Special. So Angie eagerly takes off for the estate where the now–defunct "Eagle Crest" was originally filmed. Not thrilled to be staying in the very room from which the young actress Brittany Keegan took a real–life fatal tumble years earlier, Angie is equally disturbed –– and intrigued –– when another corpse turns up in the cellar. Both deaths have been ruled accidental, but the bitter accusations flying back and forth among the reunited cast suggest otherwise. And now that Angie's a guest star in this deadly serial drama, she's suddenly in serious danger of being written out of it permanently.
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Joanne Pence certainly accomplished a coup working a springtime reality into a winter plot! The seasonal-contrast-tension from an April-living-scheme shoved seamlessly into a December ambiance fueled one of the best banquet bashing scenes I¿ve ever read. LOVED the tasty detail in that food fight!! What an ingenious slant on collecting suspects at a dinner table with an amateur sleuth chef trying to shift the spotlights, after she has thoroughly tantalized readers by dramatizing the cooking process of a several course gourmet meal. And what author can make a serious scene of the culprit conclusion hilarious and riveting? Joanne Pence! She outdid herself with flights of food, resulting in the best of that type of slapstick situation I've read anywhere. Usually in-your-face food fun isn't appealing to me, but the way Pence did it, and the irony of having a culinary mystery use this technique was just fantastically, ironically appropriate. It's intriguing (and fun to me) that the author gave more detail in more vivid syntax in the food scenes which trashed culinary coups than she usually does in the eating/prep parts of plot. For Joanne Pence, it does appear that 'Cooking is murder'! As funny as the banquet brawl was, the contrasting scene with Angie barely defying death as she dangled out a window was equally riveting in a serious, 'Oh my God!' way. With Pence¿s obvious love for contrast I shouldn't have been surprised that she'd cancel the flowing tide of the whole novel's sensual pace and comfy coziness BIG TIME in the ending sequences. It almost felt like she was tired of the easy, almost sweet (and I loved it) flow of the whole book and became disgruntled with the plot not being jazzy enough for her standards (though it was for me) when she got to the ending phases of writing. So, she pulled out the whips and chains and jazzed UP the action and angst several plateaus in the denouements, with lightning-fast stepping and pizzazzy-fancy maneuvering. I've been noticing that each sequential book in this series seems to add more to the culinary hits. The taste bud input grows more and more into balsamic levels of gourmet-chef-delicious. Pence must have a collection of foodie contacts somewhere, or a great cook book collection maybe it's all the cooking shows on TV. Surely she watches Lidia's Italian table once in a while! (She did mention Emeril in this one.)
Angie Amalfi has been offered a chance of a lifetime. She is to prepare a Christmas meal for the reunion special of her favorite soap opera, Eagle Crest. This meant she had to be separated from her San Francisco homicide detective finace Paavo Smith. But it is only for a short time. The special is being filmed at the Waterfield estate owned by Dr. Sterling Waterfield. Dr. Waterfield, a friend of Angie¿s father, is a widower and lives with his two sons, Junior and Silver. Junior once dated Angie¿s sister, Frannie, but things hadn¿t worked out. Eagle Crest had ended ten years earlier, but now the cast was being reassembled for a ten year reunion, a Christmas reunion. When she arrives, she finds the crew there, but no stars have arrived. She also finds out that Emery Tarleton, the director, wants her to recreate the Christmas meal from an earlier Christmas show and that the actress Brittany Keegan who had played Julia Parker had died in the house. The official reports were that she died in Los Angeles, but in reality she had died in the house. Worse yet, she fell out of the window of the third floor bedroom Angie has been given! Soon Angie becomes aware that someone is trying to sabotage the filming. The actors arrive and it is soon apparent that they are not very friendly Angie starts looking into the death of Brittany. It was classified as a suicide, but things just don¿t appear to be so simple. Many things happen on the set and Angie knows that she needs to unravel the mystery before someone else is hurt, including herself. I like this series. Angie is a very likeable character. The soap opera actors in this book are so realistic and Angie is the ultimate fan put into a very strange situation. The setting of an estate really assists in this book because everyone is living together but they can leave the estate when needed. I highly recommend this book and series.
Imagine getting a job working in Courtlandt Manor of Pine Valley. To a soap fan this is a dream job, one Angie Amalfi has a chance to live when she lands a job providing the Christmas dinner for the cast of her favorite soap's, Eagle Crest, reunion show. The dream quickly is transformed to a nightmare. The 'chef' is an odious little man who makes Angie's life miserable whenever they come into contact. He's determined to not let her into 'his' kitchen. The stars are aloof and not nearly as likeable in person as their characters. Everyone Angie knows seems to be dropping in to leave a prop for her to place on the set so they can say their knick knack is a part of the scene, and she has discovered that getting this job might be less a measure of her talent and more a facet of her father's match making schemes. Toss in an old, unsolved murder, a tabloid reporter, and a fresh 'accidental' death, and you have a fine hash. ......................... The love of Angie's life, Paavo, is not too thrilled with life either. He misses Angie, and her cooking. Then, referred by Angie's pesky friend Connie, he has a missing person's case dumped in his lap by a 'little person', Minnie Petite. The only good part of that is it ties to Angie's situation, and brings them together again. ...................... **** Angie and Paavo are the best mystery couple since Nancy and Ned. You might die laughing, but it is a good way to go. As always, there are recipes guaranteed to kill your diet if you make them included. ****