dinsdag 31 januari 2012

Joanne Pence – The Da Vinci Cook

The 14th and as far as I know, last book in the Angie Amalfi series, published February 2007.

The Da Vinci Cook

Just when dilettante chef Angie Amalfi's checkered culinary career seems to be looking up, she has to drop everything and hightail it to Rome. Her realtor sister Caterina is in a stew—accused of murdering a stranger she found already dead in the abandoned mansion of an absent client, famed Roman restaurateur Marcello Piccoletti. To make matters worse, a priceless religious relic is missing as well—so the Amalfi girls are joining forces in the Eternal City . . . and diving head-first into a simmering cauldron of big trouble.
Working undercover as a cook in Piccoletti's world-famous upscale eatery, Da Vinci's, Angie hopes to unravel the tangled spaghetti strands of this homicide-theft-conspiracy and clear Cat's name. But when bodies begin piling up like fresh mozzarella balls at a family picnic, it looks like next it'll be arrivederci Amalfis . . . for good!

Angie Amalfi is busy planning her wedding to Paavo, her big and handsome fiancé, who is a homicide inspector at the San Francisco Police Department. She is happily surprised with a new job-offer, ghost writing a cookbook with a famous French chef. Then her sister Caterina calls in a panic. Apparently she walked in on a murder scene at one of her client’s homes, and is now in hot pursuit of the someone else fleeing the scene of the crime. Cat was accused of stealing a priceless antique something from the client’s home, and she got fired. Cat is furious, she would never steal something, let alone anything that ugly, and she wants to clear her name. The person she is following, left the house with the item she supposedly stole, and she needs it to clear her name. She wants Angie to call Paavo to have the police stop them! But Paavo got called to a murder scene, and won’t pick up his phone. So Angie has no choice but to get in her car, and follow Cat! She can’t let her sister handle this alone!
And so both women end up at the airport, only to find out that Marcello Piccoletti or perhaps his brother Rocco Piccoletti has just boarded a plane to Rome, and the plane has left! So what to do now? Cat is not inclined to stay home, and let her lawyers and the police handle things, she wants her name cleared, and is furious with Marcello to blame her. And what is he doing still in San Francisco, when he supposedly went to Rome on Monday?
Angie cannot let her sister travel alone, so she joins her, booking another flight to Rome. Their flight will even land there earlier, so they can wait for him at the airport. But as usual, with the things Angie plans, everything goes wrong. Cat has the last seat in First Class, so Angie has to travel coach, which she loathes, seated between two very bulky and smelly men.
They get delayed in Frankfurt, when the airport police is suspicious of them travelling without luggage, and their insistence they absolutely need to catch the plane to Rome! By now Paavo knows they have left the country, which makes Cat a fugitive on the run, as she is the main murder suspect (of course he knows she did not do it, but he has to follow the rules!) and as Angie has helped her, she is an accessory. So both women have to lie low from the law in Rome as well. Especially since Paavo’s new chief of police won’t believe him, and has contacted the Italian police with the request to apprehend both ladies.

A very convoluted tale follows. The relic in question, is some very old chain, supposedly used to shackle Peter, one of the first Apostles. And many people are after it. Angie keeps spotting someone with a goatee, and a priest, and Marcello who is hiding as well. They are in dire streets, they don’t dare use the ATM for more money to buy some clothes, or go to a good hotel, as their passports will be checked. And so they have to hide, until Cat can sort everything out with Marcello. She keeps saying she trusts him, and he will help her clear her name and everything. Angie wants nothing more to go back home, to Paavo, and their wedding preparations, but she can’t leave Cat behind.
Angie knows her way around the city, as she has lived there for a while, after finishing her education as a chef in Paris. She is happy to be back in Rome, as she loves the city, but the circumstances are so not what she is used to. But perhaps as a honeymoon location, she and Paavo can come back here?

In the meanwhile, in San Francisco, the bodies keep piling up, and Cat’s husband is kidnapped. Someone wants to put Cat under pressure to give up the chain, someone convinced she has it. Paavo keeps running in to Angie’s other three sisters, they are all send by their mother, who wants to “help” him. She wants her two little girls back! So they need to find out who is behind this setup of Cat, and all the murders. And Seraphina Amalfi sure has connections in town, and in Italy. Paavo really dislikes spending time with his soon-to-be sisters in law, as they are all kind of wacko. The only one he likes is the oldest sister, Bianca, the normal and cool and caring one. But she totally falls apart when they discover the body of the women they were supposed to question. Another sister is a fanatic protestor, who hates Paavo, and the last one is a pious and religious nut, even though she is married and has a body for sin.

So, lots of action, both in Rome as in San Francisco. Slowly Paavo unravels something, but in the end, he and Charles just have to go to Rome themselves, to safe their loved ones. If they can find them, will they be in time?

As usual, it was fun following Angie on her adventure. This time not in San Francisco, with Paavo there to safe her, but in Rome, with her sister Cat. It was really nice to see Rome through her eyes, certainly a city I want to visit someday. Cat was not a sister that has been a big secondary character in the previous books in the series, and it was great getting to know her and her husband better. She is not someone you can easy like. She is giving Angie a very hard time, being very selfish most of the book.
And Paavo, sigh, he really does miss his Angie. Memories of her all over the city. And he even puts up with her strange family. I never knew what would happen next. The one mastermind behind it all, that was a bit of a surprise, as my first suspect was found murdered. The story sure was confusing at first, and more and more strange characters kept popping up in Rome. Angie and Cat had to do a lot of things to stay free, and out of danger.
Joanne Pence has written another original, fast paced and just fun cozy mystery that also has some real suspense and great characters. Both the main and the secondary. If you are interested in that, there are a few recipes in the back of the book.

As far as I have known for years, this is the last Angie Amalfi book. As you can see, published 5 years ago. And now, suddenly, the authors has a brand new website, the books have been re-issued as ebooks, and she has written a novella in this series, published in December 2011! And low and behold on her website it says:
The Angie Amalfi series is currently on hiatus (while Angie plans her wedding, of course!) For fans of Joanne Pence's books, she is currently working on an exciting new novel. Keep posted for more information on it. “
I am certainly excited about this news! Angie’s life is certainly not sorted out with the ending of this book! I want to learn about her weddingplans, if she will ever find a job she really likes and can hold on to, will she get into more scrapes?

8 stars.

2 opmerkingen:

  1. Lol, aww, what a cover, I do enjoy a good laugh :D

  2. Great! Now I feel like hopping on a plane to Rome! :) Sounds like a really fun series.