This twelfth culinary mystery from Joanne Pence has everything a mystery reader could ever want: romance, intrigue and, of course, murder. Loveable amateur sleuth and budding chef Angie Amalfi continues her adventures in this exciting addition to a popular series.
Dilettante chef and amateur sleuth Angie Amalfi is at it again, in another culinary mystery in this successful series. Angie has reluctantly agreed to let her mother plan the party to celebrate her engagement to Paavo, her hunky detective beau. But as she frets over whether her mom will pull it off, a new situation surfaces––Stan, her next door neighbour, falls for a mysterious pregnant woman, and gets in over his head. With stalkers, baby–smuggling, and, of course, murder in the days leading up to the party, Angie must concentrate on solving a complicated crime, and reluctantly leave the party planning to mom.
o Perfect for fans of Janet Evanovich and mystery readers who love stories with a dash of romance.
o Each instalment in the series features several delicious recipes from the kitchen of Angie Amalfi.
About the Author
Joanne Pence was born and raised in San Francisco. A graduate of U.C. Berkeley with a master's degree in journalism, Joanne has taught school in Japan, written for magazines, and worked for the federal government. She now lives in Idaho with her family, which includes a multitude of pets.
Read an Excerpt
An Angie Amalfi Mystery
A fat, salty tear trickled down Stanfield Bonnette's narrow cheek. He pulled a Kleenex from its cellophane packet. The tissue tore apart and he ended up with half in his hand, the other half still stuck in the packaging. A metaphor for his life.
Real men don't cry. He'd heard that often enough from his father, and believed it, even as he fought to stop his tears while walking down the steep hills away from his top-of-Russian-Hill San Francisco apartment.
Real men especially didn't cry out of self-pity over losing girlfriends they never had who were engaged to men they didn't like. Men who were more macho, more sexy, and definitely more exciting.
They didn't even cry when they had a job they despised, a father who scorned them, and they received no respect from anyone, ever.
Another tear formed in the corner of his eye and he wiped it away, even more disgusted with himself.
Outwardly, he had everything -- a well-paying job at a bank, good looks, a nice apartment, and access to his father's money whenever he needed it. He was in his early thirties, single, slim, with silky brown hair, brown eyes, and boyishly handsome looks. Back in the days when Hugh Grant was young and wildly popular, people said Stan reminded them of the English actor. Now both seemed a bit dated.
As he crossed Union Street he faced San Francisco Bay and Alcatraz -- old, solitary, and squalid, much the way he felt.
At the foot of Russian Hill, where the ground became level and flat, past the old red brick Cannery that had been converted into tourist shops and eateries, he reached Jefferson Street, the heart of Fisherman's Wharf. To his right were famous restaurants and tourist attractions, but where he stood the buildings were wooden, single-story, and windowless, with company names painted over doorways or garages, all a part of the real world of fishing boats, warehouses, and fisheries.
Many of the area's restaurants featured Italian food, yet another reminder of the woman he was mooning over, Angelina Amalfi. Okay, maybe it was true that they'd never seriously dated, and she'd never indicated that she felt anything for him other than friendship. But as she talked about her upcoming engagement party, he suddenly realized how much she meant to him. He had no doubt her engagement party -- being planned by her mother -- was going to be the biggest and most lavish ever held in the city of San Francisco.
If his mother were to plan an engagement party for him, it would probably consist of Kentucky Fried Chicken and Hostess cupcakes. To say his mother wasn't thrilled with him or the way he was living was an understatement. And her disappointment was exceeded only by his father's.
At times like this, he couldn't help but think his parents were right. After all, he'd lost Angie, and now he would never have a chance to convince her that their relationship might become more than friendship.
No, that wasn't exactly true, either. He'd tried. More than once. She'd never noticed. What did that tell him?
He sighed woefully. She would have been perfect for him, too. Beautiful, smart, ambitious ... rich ... and a g reat cook. He loved food. Loved to eat. Day. Night. Midday. Middle of the night.
Angie's kitchen was one of the Seven Wonders of the World. He could knock on the door to her apartment right across the hall from his, she'd invite him in, and he'd head for her refrigerator. It was like a magic box, filled with the most delectable leftovers the world has ever known.
And soon, once she was married, this wonderful, scrumptious, mouthwatering phase of his life would be over.
Tears threatened again.
Not that he cared about her only for her culinary skills. She understood him. She never nagged or pressured him, but just accepted him for what he was. Or wasn't. In fact, he had a longer relationship with her than he'd had with any other woman.
Maybe something was to be said for not dating women he liked.
With a heavy sigh he wondered what delicious feast Angie's mother would serve at the engagement party. At least he had that to look forward to.
For some unknown reason, still thinking about Angie, Stan turned down one of the small roadways off Jefferson Street that led back to the rough wharves where fishing boats were docked. It was an area where tourists never ventured and homeless people sought shelter -- smelly and dingy, with gulls swooping overhead and salt water, oil spills, and worse at his feet.
A small building, separate from the others, caught his eye. Asign in Greek-style lettering proclaimed athina restaurant. One story with a flat roof, the once-white paint was now gray and peeling. The windows had scrolled bars over them in a pretty design, but bars nonetheless. In the window, a cardboard sign read fresh fish! greek specialties served here.
Stan stepped closer to the Athina and sniffed. A blend of lemon, cinnamon, and clove wafted over him. All his thoughts about Angie's kitchen had made him hungry. Perhaps a little nourishment would help allay his sorrows.Courting Disaster
An Angie Amalfi Mystery. Copyright © by Joanne Pence. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In COURTING DISASTER Angie frets over an engagement party Serefina (her mother) is planning in high profile secrecy. Angie is consumed with desperation to discover the diddly details of her mother¿s choices of color schemes, etc., related to this upcoming party. I was absolutely taken by surprise and overwhelmingly impressed with the way Angie¿s well-fed angst over the perfection of her party¿s ambiance, carried on entertainingly throughout the novel, was concluded in the denouement. Do check out how everyone¿s Dressed To The Nines? But, from which base number system are they making their debuts? That is the question. Or, one of the many which are answered absolutely. From the first page to the last, this mystery was more sophisticated that most offerings in this genre. The burgundy complexity sneaks up on a reader who¿s been fooled into feeling he¿s in the book only for the exquisitely executed ¿let¿s party¿ escapism. All within the justification of escorting a villain to his or her payment of karma, of course. The opening of the novel does a moody-blues, literarily stylish, sensitive step-in as Angie¿s seemingly superficial friend, Stanfield Bonnette, drags his psyche through a self-pity soliloquy, moaning with such gregarious gusto that temptations of Prozac would be magnetically repelled before they could find an ozone hole for access to mental persuasion. After a few pages of this, Stan has taken the reader into a submarine dive into the murky depths of his unusual character there¿s more to him than even he would admit. The contrast of enlightened-macho-styles between Angie¿s fiancee, Paavo, and her father is especially well done. I was absolutely entertained by every word, gesture, and action exchanged between those two as they bungled from antipasto antipathy into side-glancing, no-admitting-it thoughts of, ¿maybe-I¿m-gonna-like-you-after-all ... or ... then-again-maybe-not¿ intimacy. And kiss my joined finger tips in salute for the performances of the generous collection of characters reeking in ¿Perfecto¿ personality quirks, and the read-aloud-and-share dialogue dances. Of course the women in the plot are delightfully or dingily feisty and varied in temperament, depth, and essence but the coup beyond coups in this novel is that every male in the plot is an unusually rich, complex example of that gender of the species. Each is potently, yummy male, yet uniquely one-of-a-kind. How does Pence deliver this amount of intrigue and intensity through a legitimate mystery, filling in the blanks of that genre, yet using it as a cover for a literary mainstream novel?
Meet Angie Amalfi, chef and freelance food critic. With her 'surprise' engagement party around the corner, Angie is in a whirlwind of motion trying to figure out the details. Then a mysterious woman appears at her neighbor's door. .............................. Angie's neighbor is named Stan. He has just been drawn into the life of this woman and her baby. Now Angie must help the woman and Stan out of a murderous baby smuggling ring. ................................. **** A slow start but by the end it was a worthwhile read! Angie and Stan's antics are enough to capture any reader's attention. ****
Still between jobs, rich, beautiful and nervous Angie Amalfi is going crazy as she wonders where her engagement party is going to be held and what it will be like. She put the whole affair in her mother¿s hands so that she can be in charge of creating her wedding. Her next door neighbor Stan is depressed because Angie is getting married to homicide detective Paavo Smith while he failed to get past being a friend in her mind..................... At a Greek restaurant, Stan sees waitress Hannah and is immediately smitten. They get to know one another, but he quickly concludes that Hannah fears a waiter who happens to be the father of her unborn child. When Hannah goes into labor, Stan takes her to the hospital and after the baby is born he brings them into his home. When the father is killed, evidence points towards Hannah as the prime suspect, but others had a motive to murder the waiter. Stan with Angie pushing her way at his side seeks the identity of the real culprit................................. COURTING DISASTER is a great romantic mystery in which the baby scenes provide immense humor (tissues to wipe the tears of laughter unless you are a new parent ¿ then its sympathy pains). The romance between Angie and Paavo is growing stronger as each begins to accept the eccentricities of their future partner. Stan¿s desperate inquiries to prove his beloved innocent takes a spin when Angie tries to come to the rescue in an electrifying climax that will long be remembered. Courting the bestseller list, Joanne Pence has written a winner deserving an award nomination at the minimum................................ Harriet Klausner