Book 12 in the Angie Amalfi series, published November 2004.
Normally dilettante chef and freelance food writer Angie Amalfi would rather be deep-fried than let her control-freak mother plan the party celebrating Angie's engagement to San Francisco homicide detective Paavo Smith. But there's already too much on the bride-to-be's plate ... and much of it is murderous.
What with her unhealthy interest in friendly neighbour Stan's dangerous infatuation with a mysterious, very pregnant kitchen helper at a nearby Greek eatery -- and in the related sudden death by very unnatural causes of a celebrated do-gooder -- incurable snoop Angie may be biting off a lot more souvlaki than she can safely swallow. Stir in a vengeful stalker, some strange happenings on a fishing boat, and a second heaping helping of homicide, and it looks like poor Paavo may end up celebrating solo, due to the untimely d.o.a. of his hapless fiancée!
Angie is going crazy, trying to find out where her mother is planning her secret engagement party. No one is telling her a thing, or feeling sorry for her. Least of all her friend and neighbour Stan Bonnette. Stan is feeling lonely, now Angie will soon be married, and her kitchen and especially her gourmet cooking no longer available to him. Why couldn’t she have picked him instead of that murder cop?
Not seeing to where he is wandering, he ends up at a shady piece of the boulevard. A little Greek restaurant catches his attention, and as Stan likes to eat, he heads inside. The waiter is very rude to him, and leaving after his dinner, which was surprisingly good, he sees a woman outside, arguing with his waiter. She looks lovely, and he is certainly attracted to her. But well, she is obviously taken. But the next day, Stan goes back, just to catch a glimpse of the woman. Perhaps she also works at the restaurant? And she does, as a waitress, but only now does he see she is very pregnant! Disappointed, but still intrigued by her, he takes Angie with him the next day. And even Angie is taken with the food. Stan doesn’t listen to her complaints, he just wants to see the woman, talk with her this time.
And yes, after Angie leaves, he does meet with the woman, and talks to her. She needs a friend and to his own surprise, he offers her his help. And Angie’s phone number, for when his own cell phone doesn’t work.
To his surprise, Hannah does call him when she is in labor. She doesn’t have medical care, and she needs him, Stan, to help her. Stan keeps surprising himself, when he calls a cab and takes her to the hospital, and even pays for her stay. Or rather, his rich father will.
The next day, the baby’s father shows up in the hospital, demanding Hannah hands over the baby to him. But she refuses, telling him their son is in a couveuse and needs medical care for a few more days. How did he find her?
So she calls Angie, asking her to help her escape the hospital with her baby girl, in a disguise. That she is afraid of the father, and he can’t find her! She won’t tell why though. And so Hannah and baby end up in Stan’s apartment, and Stan learns everything there is to know about being a father. His apartment gets flooded with baby stuff, and learns to clean her and feed her, as Hannah is too weak to do much. Hannah really sees a hero in Stan, but he is not in love with her, and it is just too much.
But then Hannah’s ex boyfriend ends up murdered, just like the famous homeless people advocate, and Hannah is the number one suspect. Of course she did not do it, but who did, and why? What is going on in the Athena restaurant?
And there is another plotline with Angie’s father Sal, who is being stalked by one of his employees, and wants Paavo to help him. Although he can’t stand Paavo, and thinks he is not good enough for his baby girl, they do get a bit closer through the experience. Paavo doesn’t want to get involved, and wants Sal to back off, the woman has a record for being dangerous. But when the woman threatens his Angie, he will do whatever has to be done.
And still, Angie doesn’t know a single thing about her own engagement party, and it is driving her nuts. Where will it be, what will be the color scheme, won’t it clash with her gorgeous yellow Dior dress?
A nice edition to this nice cozy mystery series. I liked the involvement of Stan in this book, really hadn’t thought he had it in him to help someone else, for nothing in return. But he did good, and so I hope he will find out what or who he wants.
As for Angie and Paavo, she just wants to help him with his case, like her mother has helped her father build his shoe emporium and get rich. But of course, that is not as dangerous as confronting possible murderers! So Paavo keeps warning her to stay out of it, but as Stan is involved, Angie can’t stay behind. Someone is after Hannah and her baby, and they need to find out why, and who.
Normally, Angie is job hunting in this series, or coming up with an original job, something to do with cooking or eating, but not in this one. We did visit the Italian restaurant, and some of the previous characters, which is always fun. Angie is just a fun character, and often totally clueless about what happens around her. But she also draws her best friend Connie into every scrape, like breaking into her parents house.
Paavo is homicide inspector, and a good one. Somehow, his cases always seem to involve Angie, or someone she knows, or met or just stumbled into. She loves him dearly, and is always trying to do nice things for him, even if it embarrasses him in front of the other cops.
I did hate that in the end, I still did not know anything about the engagement party, and I am so sure it would have been gorgeous!