Murder Made to Order
All-Day Breakfast Cafe Mystery, Book #2
By Lena Gregory
Author’s website: lenagregory.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
To save her cozy Florida diner, Gia Morelli must choke down a heaping helping of murder . . .
New York native Gia Morelli is just getting used to life in Florida when she gets word that the town government wants to shut down her pride and joy: the charming little diner known as the All-Day Breakfast Café. A forgotten zoning regulation means that the café was opened illegally, and hardboiled council president Marcia Steers refuses to budge. Gia is considering hanging up her apron and going back to New York, but before she gives up on her dream, she discovers something shocking in the local swamp: Marcia Steers, dead in the water. There’s a secret buried in the books at town hall, and someone killed to keep it hidden. To save her café and bring a killer to justice, Gia and her friends will have to figure out a killer’s recipe for murder…
Second in Lena Gregory’s new All Day Breakfast Cafe series, I enjoyed this mystery even more than the first one, Scone Cold Killer. The characters continue to be likable, coming to life through realistic dialog and action. Gia continues to waffle on whether she should stay in Florida or move back home to the Big Apple, and recent events could make that decision for her. The mystery is multifaceted and hard to solve. As with the first, Gia and Savannah give a marvelous demonstration of true friendship, no matter the cost.
Gia has been winning the hearts and appetites of folks in Boggy Creek, Florida, with the excellent food she serves at the All-Day Breakfast Cafe. She was not anticipating the news from the town council: they discovered that the Cafe is zoned as residential, and therefore must be shut down. No matter that the last business there had been a bar before the building sat empty, or that every other shop on the block is zoned for business. While it sounded like the decision was already made, Savannah was not going to let her throw in the apron just yet.
The president of the town council, Marcia Steers, was unwilling to move on her position to close down the cafe. Days before the upcoming vote at the town council meeting, Marcia came to the cafe. She wanted to meet with Gia, and made arrangements to come in the following day. The next morning, Gia and her sweet pup Thor went hiking and found Marcia facedown, partially in the lake. Captain Hayes was first on the scene. When Hunt, the police detective, and Savannah’s cousin, arrives, he and Hayes get into a loud fight. Hayes took him off the case because Hunt and Marcia used to date, and rumor had it they were secretly dating again. He had been showing a tremendous interest in Gia…while he was getting back together with an ex?
Finding a clue Marcia left Gia’s office, she and Savannah begin looking at the property records for the cafe. The file was empty, and the person who most recently borrowed the contents was Marcia. Clues also involve Savannah’s mother’s murder from 20 years earlier; Hayes had messed up the original investigation by accusing her father of the murder. Now Savannah wants justice for her mother and wants Gia to solve this murder as she had an earlier one. Gia is now in a race to find information to help keep her cafe open and find a killer or two.
Gia and Savannah are a delightful, dynamic duo! There is little the two best friends can’t do when they get together. I so enjoy seeing them get their heads together and encourage each other! They are by far my favorites in the series, with the only possible exception being Thor. These ladies, and all other characters are very well defined.
The plot is fresh and exciting, with unexpected plot twists and suspects. From natural to man-made challenges, Gia faces more in a week than many do in a year. Even amidst the possible loss of her cafe and the probability that Hunt and Marcia had been back together, she comes to some startling realizations. The way the author brings past and present together is impressive. It was hard to figure out, through the various players and layers of deceptions, who the real bad guy(s) might be. The explosive ending reveals far more than just the bad guys, giving a more than satisfactory resolution. This mystery surpasses the first in series in every way. While it can be read as a standalone, it shows Gia’s first weeks in Boggy Creek. I highly recommend Murder Made to Order to those who like well-written cozy mysteries, cozy cafes, pups, and Florida.