Public Anchovy #1
I enjoyed the third in the Deep Dish Mystery series by Mindy Quigley, Public Anchovy #1, the most so far — because it involved a mixed group of people, some unpleasant, trapped in a mansion overnight. That’s a genre trope that makes it easy to combine drama and mystery and suspense, and the result is a page-turner.
The series stars Delilah, a chef who runs a gourmet pizzeria in a Wisconsin lake resort town. The first book, Six Feet Deep Dish, sets up the premise, but I didn’t care for some of it. Like many cozy mystery heroines, Delilah is dumped by her fiancé, who in this case is a rich tech bro, and she has a spoiled cat. She winds up solving a mystery when someone is killed at her new restaurant, potentially ruining her business, and worse, her aunt is the main suspect. While I liked the setting, much of it was a little too familiar.
The second book, Ashes to Ashes, Crust to Crust, has the ex with a new girlfriend, a juice bar owner, which was a bit too trendy for me.
So try starting with this one. All the characters are either new — long-time wacky inhabitants or rich visitors — or Delilah’s staff, reintroduced, so it’s a fine place to begin.
Delilah and crew have been hired to cater a fundraising party for the library at a fancy vacation home. The “fun” starts when she’s asked to come up with a pizza for someone who doesn’t eat gluten, dairy, or tomatoes. I liked this mini-mystery as an appetizer, wondering how do you make pizza without wheat, cheese, or tomato sauce.
Sometimes the connections are a bit too convenient — one of her waitresses, an immigrant, discovers an acquaintance from the old country has been invited to the party, for example, and the party entertainment is the local detective (and love interest)’s mother — but I found myself involved once a local troublemaker with a grudge is found dead at the bottom of the main staircase.
Was he killed or was it an accident? Where was everyone, and who had motive? Why are the rich neighbors so unpleasant? A storm locks all the key characters in the mansion with the power out for a nerve-wracking night. Delilah and the detective, Calvin Capone, try to keep their friends from getting killed while puzzling out why a copy of The Maltese Falcon is a clue and who offed the troublemaker. I couldn’t resist gobbling it all up in one sitting. (The publisher provided an advance digital review copy.)