Scone Cold Killer
All Day Breakfast Cafe Mystery, Book #1
By Lena Gregory
Author Website: lenagregory(.)com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
For Florida diner owner Gia Morelli, there’s no such thing as too much breakfast—unless it kills you . . .
When Gia Morelli’s marriage falls apart, she knows it’s time to get out of New York. Her husband was a scam artist who swindled half the millionaires in town, and she doesn’t want to be there when they decide to take revenge. On the spur of the moment, she follows her best friend to a small town in Central Florida, where she braves snakes, bears, and giant spiders to open a cheery little diner called the All-Day Breakfast Café. Owning a restaurant has been her lifelong dream, but it turns into a nightmare the morning she opens her dumpster and finds her ex-husband crammed inside. As the suspect du jour, Gia will have to scramble fast to prove her innocence before a killer orders another cup of murder . . .(Goodreads)
This is a solid start of the new All-Day Breakfast Cafe Mystery series. It is the first cozy mystery I’ve read by this author, and it won’t be the last. The mystery has challenging elements, and it is hard to tell who is a friend or foe. The protagonists, Gia and Savannah are well-defined and likable. One of the things I appreciate is seeing how valuable friendship is to them. And who can resist an adorable pup? Thor is often a scene-stealer!
Gia has moved from the Big Apple, opening her new All-Day Breakfast Cafe, the day after her final flight to Boggy Creek, Florida. It is her best friend, Savannah’s hometown, where Savannah returned after trying to start a career as a dancer in New York City. The two ladies met there when they were both looking for a roommate, and their friendship has lasted through the years of Gia’s marriage and Savannah’s return to Florida.
Dealing with the bitter divorce and criminal proceedings against now ex-husband Bradley has been a nightmare. She was stalked by some of those he ripped off, even getting death threats. All of that was over, and she was starting fresh in a new place with a new home and the cafe of her dreams.
Opening day is a mixed blessing. Business is amazing. Willow, her young waitress, is also amazing. Maybelle, her cook…not so amazing. When everybody left and she is heading out with the last bag of trash, an arm hangs out of the dumpster. The hand attached to it has a great manicure (stress man), and the ring that Bradley, the ex, wore all the time. The arm did not move. Gia did – inside the cafe – and dialed 911. And is quickly the best suspect…Hunt Quinn, a handsome, rugged man, is the detective on the case. He is very business-like and stern until Savannah arrives. Hunt is Savannah’s cousin, and they are very close.
The bad part of small town living is how quickly gossip travels, and almost nobody shows up at the cafe when Gia is allowed to re-open. The cook quit, so Gia doesn’t have to fire her. The first customer to arrive is the one who she promised grits, but Gia had not been able to get the ingredients, and didn’t know how to cook them. The good news is that Trevor, owner of the ice cream store across the week, came to meet her. Mark Cooper, new in town, comes to apply for the job of cook, and gives a sample of his cooking and prep work, solving one problem…if she gets any customers back. There is a break-in at her home, a threat from a woman who wants what Gia was holding for Brad – and what that is, Gia had no clue, another death threat. If it wasn’t for Thor, the adorable pup she adopts from a shelter, she would be at a complete loss.
The characters are very well defined, and I like Gia and Savannah. While I thought about the hiring choices they made, I saw how Gia had to get things going in a few weekends crushed between packing and the criminal proceedings against her ex. Savannah was working behind the scenes and around her own job to get Gia’s cafe and house ready on time. Mark Cooper is a great fit with the crew. Then Hunt – welcoming Gia to Savannah’s family and absorbing her in with few second thoughts, even though the investigation into Bradley’s death was ongoing. What I liked seeing is how several people we think are minor to the mystery swap roles with those we think are major good guys. I simply couldn’t figure out who the real bad guy was…even though one seemed kind of obvious.
The plot is well planned and executed, with surprising plot twists that kept me on my toes. The story flowed well; what grabbed my attention early on kept me turning pages throughout. One takeaway is how this cozy mystery is a testament to friendship – the lengths one friend will go to for another. It even shows the joys of having a pet and being a responsible pet owner. It is a balance of wit and candor, anger and fear, closing one door and opening another. This reader did not quite see the full impact of the real bad guy until … all was revealed. I highly recommend Scone Cold Killer to those who enjoy cozy mysteries that are set in restaurants or cafes and include recipes.