Toasting Up Trouble
Dinner Club Mystery, Book #1
By Linda Wiken
Author website: http://www.lindawiken.com/
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Kayt
A delicious new cozy mystery series featuring the Culinary Capers Dinner Club—who are fearless when it comes to cooking up new dishes and putting the lid on crime…
Event planner Jennifer “J.J.” Tanner has a full plate, but that’s the way she likes it. First, it’s her turn to choose the recipe for the next meeting of the Culinary Capers Dinner Club, a gathering of foodie friends who experiment with entrées for their creative and gastronomical pleasure. Second, she’s organizing an Italian princess party for the twenty-one-year-old daughter of a high-tech millionaire.
But one thing J.J. didn’t plan on is that the caterer for the event—hotshot chef Antonio Marcotti—would end up murdered the night of the party. Or that she’d end up being a prime suspect after having had a heated argument with the unscrupulous chef. Now it’s up to J.J.—with help from her fellow Club members and a handsome if mysterious private eye—to turn the tables on the real killer…
Toasting Up Trouble is an enjoyable first book in a new cozy mystery series. The series is entitled “Dinner Club Mystery” which references a culinary dinner club character JJ (Jennifer) Tanner has recently joined. JJ and her friends, Evan, Allison, Beth and Connor chose a cookbook each month. One member gets to make the choice and cooks the main course. The other members do the other items. Although JJ does not consider herself a wonderful cook, she does have an addiction to cookbooks and especially their photos. So it seems a good fit. While the dinner club itself (the meals that it is) are not the main scene of any of the mystery, several members do become suspects in a murder, including JJ.
JJ is an event planner, working with her friend Skye. Her next big event is a glam 21st birthday party for an Italian “princess” whose father is a high tech king millionaire. JJ’s caterer bugs out on her with little time to spare. So she scrambles to find a replacement. On the recommendation of her friend, she turns to Chef Antonio Marcotti. He is not easy to deal with, but she is in a bind. JJ feels everything is settled with the over-bearing chef and the party goes well. Until she realizes he has slipped a very expensive item on the menu that she specifically told him not to use. After the party the revelers have left, JJ confronts him. They argue and she leaves before saying something she should not. And as far as she is concerned that is that.
JJ is shocked to find the police stopping traffic when she goes to oversee the cleanup from the party the next morning. She is even more shocked when she finds out Chef Marcotti has been murdered. That is not the worst part either. After their argument becomes known, JJ becomes a prime suspect. She is not alone though. Her friend Evan is also one. Along the way a dear and helpful restaurant owner she has befriended also is a suspect and he is arrested.
Old feuds between Chef Marcotti and JJ’s friend/restaurant owner Rocco and the murder weapon, a knife belonging to Rocco, point to him as the killer. JJ cannot get any answers from investigating officer Hastings or her police officer friend Allison. Soon JJ and her neighbor find a private eye is involved as well and following her. With her gang of dinner aficionados, P.I. Ty, neighbor and former policeman Ness and others, JJ hunts for answers. Murder victim Marcotti was not very likeable and there is no shortage of suspects. Most, however, have alibis. So many things are going on and a lot of back stories, history, deceit, affairs and the like, however it was not at all hard to keep track. I figured out the killer one chapter before JJ, so that was pretty good.
I enjoyed author Linda Wiken’s Toasting Up Trouble. It had a lot going on, but it still had a nice flow. There were several layers of stories that did not over shadow or interfere with each other. Main character JJ is likeable and intelligent. Her friends are a diverse group and enjoyable. There is a hint of future romance. I think my favorite characters were Ness and Rocco. I do hope they continue to be a part of JJ’s circle. Her ocicat Indie was a wonderful addition as well. The mystery is entertaining. Foodies and cozy fans will definitely enjoy this book and I imagine the series. A good start to what I am sure will be an appetizing series.