Public Anchovy #1
Deep Dish Mysteries #3
By Mindy Quigley
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Public Anchovy #1 is the third book in Mindy Quigley’s delectable Deep Dish Mystery series, set in a Wisconsin pizzeria.
While Geneva Bay’s upper crust gets ready to party down at a Prohibition-themed fundraiser, pizza chef Delilah O’Leary is focused on seeing her struggling restaurant through the winter slow season. The temperature outside is plummeting, but Delilah’s love life might finally be heating up, as hunky police detective Calvin Capone seems poised to (finally) make a move.
But Delilah’s hopes of perfecting a new “free-from” pizza recipe for a charity bash are dashed when a dead body crashes the party. Soon, Capone, Delilah, and her entire staff are trapped in an isolated mansion and embroiled in a dangerous game of cat and mouse.
To catch an increasingly-desperate killer, Delilah will have to top all of her previous crime-solving accomplishments, and a few pizzas, too.
This series gets better with each mystery! This novel has a different approach, which demonstrates the creativity and writing talent of the author. In some ways it reminded me of the old movies, House on Haunted Hill and Ten Little Indians. The plot is excellent, especially when Delilah, her staff, and Detective Capone were unable to determine who the bad guy is even as a winter storm had trapped them in an estate. The characters come to life and we learn more about the regulars. I have full respect for any chef who can come up with a pizza completely free of food allergens on the spur of the moment.
Tourist season in Geneva Bay, Wisconsin, is over, and to bring income into Delilah & Son through the winter months, they have begun catering. Their first huge job is at the home of Pam Philips, the sponsor and hostess for a fundraiser to benefit the local library, which is housed in an elegant historic building. Delilah’s specialty is Chicago style deep dish pizza with an ever-growing offering of toppings. They also serve appetizers, salads, and desserts.
Pam is the incoming board chairman of the Friends of the Library. A vote was recently taken to replace Edgar, the man who had been chairman for years, and he is very unhappy about it. The older man spoke cryptically to Delilah, giving her two rare books and a message for Sonya, “Son”, her sous chef who watched film noire with him as they both loved it. He also was to meet Pam shortly, and Delilah would let her know Edgar was looking for her.
The event was a costume party that even Delilah and her staff could dress up for, with the theme being the prohibition era. Edgar did not dress any differently than usual. It seemed his primary purpose of being there was related to being dumped by the board. Delilah did not dress up either, wearing her usual chef’s attire.
The entertainment for the evening was Lola Capone, jazz singer and mother of Detective Calvin Capone, who Delilah has had too much of a business relationship with since the first murder to distress her and her staff. She would love to have a different kind of relationship, as there is interest on both sides, but no request had been forthcoming for a date.
Cocktails designed for this event and appetizers were being served. Lola had just finished one of her numbers when something rolled down the stairs from the second floor. Edgar lay lifeless at the foot of the steps. The party was over.
A storm was raging outside. The main street to Pam’s exclusive property had downed trees blocking it, and the city equipment might not be freed up until the next day for a non-emergency situation. Three couples returned to Pam’s home as they did not make it to the main street before a tree blocked the only road in and out of the estate. Each of the three couples had a major beef with someone still at the party. Then the power went out, and the generator did not go on.
The character development is excellent! I have seen growth in Delilah since the first novel, and I kind of miss some of that feistiness. She still has some, but it is tempered as befitting a business owner. I have also appreciated seeing how their busboy/ jack of all trades, Rabbit, has changed and grown with his employment and responsibilities. I love how well Delilah and best friend Son get along, and absolutely adore Butterball, the ginger kitty she shares with her ex-fiancé. I feel as if I am coming back to visit old friends with the regular characters, while the others are described as fitting their roles.
This was intricately plotted and executed, especially since there was literally no safe means of escape. All that was around them was the bay, but during the storm, the dock was washed away. There were dense forests, but if anybody braved the storm and attempted to walk to the closest homes, they would find them vacated for the winter. Plot twists cast glaring lights on the people left in Pam’s home, both adding to and taking from the suspect list. The ending was very interesting. I was somewhat surprised at who really killed Edgar, especially why, and what other plans they had. I was very pleased with the end of this mystery! I can’t wait for the next visit to Geneva Bay with Delilah and Butterball and her staff, and highly recommend this mystery and series!