Ashes to Ashes, Crust to Crust
Deep Dish Mysteries #2
By Mindy Quigley
Author’s website: mindyquigley.com
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Jeanie
Ashes to Ashes, Crust to Crust is the second book in Mindy Quigley’s delectable Deep Dish Mystery series, set in a Wisconsin pizzeria.
Newly single pizzeria owner Delilah O’Leary is determined to keep her restaurant afloat in the picturesque resort town of Geneva Bay, Wisconsin. To boost her bottom line, she sets her sights on winning the hefty cash prize in the town’s annual “Taste of Wisconsin” culinary contest. In her corner, she’s got her strong-willed, “big-boned” cat Butterball, her wisecracking BFF, her cantankerous great-aunt, and a nearly-flawless recipe for Pretzel Crust Deep-Dish Bratwurst Pizza. But while Delilah and her team have been focused on pumping out perfect pizza pies, her ex-fiancé has cozied up to a new squeeze, juice bar owner Jordan Watts—Delilah’s contest rival.
When one of Jordan’s juice bar customers is poisoned by a tainted smoothie, Delilah lands deep in the sauce. Accusations fly, suspects abound, and a menacing stranger turns up with a beef over some missing dough. Between kale-juicing hipsters and grudge-bearing celebrity chefs, Delilah must act quickly before another one bites the crust. (From Goodreads)
This second in the series is even better than the first, which I didn’t think possible! Delilah & Son’s (short for Sonya, Delilah’s best friend) had a great first summer in Geneva Bay, Wisconsin. They sell Chicago-style deep-dish pizza with a twist. Dee (Delilah) creates truly trendy varieties that are especially popular with Chicago tourists and transplants.
Delilah broke up with Sam, her fiancé, who had purchased the building the restaurant and her upstairs apartment are in and financed the buildout. Tourist season is ending and she hadn’t been open long enough to save for the slow season. She insisted on paying Sam fair market rent instead of continuing their original deal of not paying rent until she was financially in the black, so she didn’t know if she would even be able to stay open. Dee adored Sam’s cat, Butterball. They had agreed to “joint custody”, but the weekly change was hard on the feisty feline so she may have to give him back to Sam full-time.
The town’s Labor Day weekend festival would include a Taste of Wisconsin cookoff. Each entrant would prepare a food item made with foods best representing Wisconsin’s products. Delilah, with the help of her staff, was fine-tuning a special deep-dish pizza. First prize would include $10,000 and a write-up in the local Chamber of Commerce magazine, both of which would help them get through the winter. It was the perfect plan until they learned the identity of the judge/ celebrity chef. Sonya had worked in one of Graham Ulrich’s kitchens, and to say she left on bad terms was an understatement. They continued to tweak the recipe, but are sure Ulrich will do what he can to ruin them when he sees Son.
Dee went to meet Sam at the newly-opened Juice Revolution bar to return Butterball for the week. It is the kind of place Sam loves, with the latest in wellness and healing smoothies. That is how she learned that Sam, barely three months past their breakup, was seriously involved with Jordan, the owner. She is fit and petite, looking like his perfect match. Jordan and Sam left to go sailing, while Dee chatted briefly with a couple staff members. Minutes later, one of Jordan’s customers stood, in respiratory distress with unusual spasms, then died. Delilah stayed and talked with the handsome Detective Calvin Capone (a descendent of Al Capone) regarding what happened. He would request an autopsy on Mr. Wong based on her observations.
After rushing Jordan to the hospital the next morning, Sam asked Dee to take Butterball until they can go home again. At Sam’s house, she was let in by the contractor who did their renovations. He was newly hired to expedite another complete remodel, this time meeting Jordan’s wishes. Dee also saw a partial smoothie in a Juice Revolution cup that Butterball swatted off the counter. Curious, she saved enough to give to Capone for testing. If she had a smoothie from her shop and was sick, and Mr. Wong died while drinking his, was there a connection? Capone remembers Dee’s keen instincts from the murder she helped with last spring, and took it to the lab.
Getting to know Delilah, Aunt Biz, and friends better was even more pleasurable than meeting them the first time. The comfortably proportioned Delilah and Butterball are my favorites, with Capone a close second. The regular characters, each with their own collection of quirks, are likable. I’m not too fond of some of the visitors, such as Ulrich, his estranged wife Renee, or Cinco, who got his nickname from the rumored number of people he killed – five…so far.
Dee’s sense of humor keeps me laughing, and her temper is less evident from the first novel except under unusual conditions. It can’t get more unusual than a hit man scoping out the restaurant, Aunt Biz losing her home, a staff member’s close relative going to jail, and another murder. Plot twists heighten the suspense and kept this reader up late trying to discover the real bad guy. I was stunned at the motives and resolution! Overall, I was very pleased with the outcomes, and am eagerly awaiting the next in series. This is one of my favorite cozy series; I highly recommend this novel and the first one!