Murder al Dente, the first in the Southern Pasta Shop Mysteries by Jennifer L. Hart, begins with good promise as Andy Buckland debuts her own live cooking show when the entire TV audience doubles over with food poisoning. With no one willing to hire her now, Andy must return to her small hometown from Atlanta and live with her grandfather while helping out in the family’s dying pasta shop.
On Andy’s first day back in town, her high school “nemesis” comes into the shop to ask them to cater an event the next day for 200 people. When Andy arrives at Lizzy’s house, she discovers that not only is she there to cater Lizzy’s engagement party, but the engagement is to Andy’s ex-boyfriend! Further, the cake has been made by the famous chef whom Andy suspects of having poisoned her food in the TV show. The only redeeming thing about the evening is the photographer, a handsome New Zealander Andy met the previous day. But even his presence can’t make the murder of the chef bearable.
The premise of this book sounds good, but I found it to be short on mystery and long on ineffective romance. It spends much more time devoted to the romance building between Andy and Malcom than in the mystery despite its being labeled a mystery novel. There really were few angles to the mystery, and I found the denouement unsatisfactory. The book did not engage my imagination in its romantic elements either. It stated numerous times, “it made my lady parts tingle,” which got to be repetitive while being insufficient for a proper romance.as the novel contains such problems, I give Murder al Dente two stars.
Murder al Dente is available now. To order from Amazon, click here.