A Pizza to Die For – #BookReview

Take the Pizza Leave the Mystery

Have you been stuck inside for days with nothing to do but read or watch movies? Me too. Although, I live alone in a dungeon so it makes sense. Slick Dungeon here with a cozy mystery book review for you in your time of boredom.

A Pizza to Die For by Chris Cavendar is one in a series of cozy mysteries that take place in or around a pizza shop in Timber Ridge, North Carolina. It’s about a pair of sisters, Eleanor and Maddy who run the place called, A Slice of Delight. I’m going to give you a little plot summary but then I had some issues with the whole thing so I am going to rant about that for a while.

If you just want a nice, tidy, mystery, there are definitely worse you could read out there. If you want a nice, tidy, mystery that constantly makes you wish you were eating pizza because they say the word every other sentence, this is absolutely the book for you. I think I gained weight just by reading it to be honest.

The story goes like this. A new pizza place is about to open. The restaurant is called Italia’s and not only will it have a fancy, dancy, high-falutin, wood fire oven, there’s a chef there that will toss the pizza dough in the air right in front your very own face. Maddy and Eleanor are none too pleased with this and so she and her crew go to see the dude opening it up. His name is Judson Sizemore and they basically threaten him to, you know, not open the place, but after he was a jerk to them, so apparently that’s all okay behavior.

I bet you see this coming. Judson ends up dead. Eleanor and Maddy are suspects of course, so they attempt to clear their names by solving the mystery. In case you actually want to read this, I am not going to give away who does it but there are spoilers that follow so you have been warned.

Here are some thoughts I had along the way.

  • At one point this book has the required “get off my lawn” scene where they go to try to talk to one of the suspects and he pulls out a shotgun and says he will shoot Maddy and Eleanor if they don’t leave. So many mysteries have this but this one to me was exceedingly ridiculous. The guy threatens to shoot them for, you know, walking up to his door, but then how is he talked down? Eleanor tells him she also has a house that is a bungalow house, like the one he owns. Oh. Okay. Yeah I was willing to blow your face off two seconds ago but IF you happen to own a home LIKE mine, then that’s all good, no problem, let’s be best friends. Give me a break (so I can grab a slice of pizza).
  • I know this book was written a while ago and takes place far away from Chicago but these people in this town seem to feel like you have to have some kind of magical ability to make Chicago style pizza. They go on about this for pages. Pages I tell you. And you know what? Now I need me some deep dish!
  • So Eleanor and Maddy think what they have to do is figure out who did the killing at Italia’s the night Judson dies. Guess who they never talk to even once? Yeah, everyone that was working there. Nope, none of them could possibly be suspects despite the fact that Judson in his few scenes where he is alive seems like a total jerk. Great detective work.
  • Speaking of detective work. This town has a Chief of Police who warns Eleanor away from doing her own little investigation and other than that pretty much shows up on occasion to order pizza or do some dishes in the back with Eleanor. The Chief, Kevin, has history with Eleanor because they went to the same high school. But he does no real investigating of this whole situation other than to basically ask Eleanor where she was on the night of the murder. I swear I have never read a cozy mystery where the police department ever does a good job. How are the tax payers okay with paying you Kevin? Huh? Come on, man, the Timber Ridge residents deserve better from you!
  • Also, I have made this statement in other reviews about mysteries but how is a pair of civilians going around and bullying people into confessing to them, not to the police in any way, going to help in court? I am pretty sure a lawyer who is worth a dime is going to get that case tossed in seconds flat.
  • Speaking of crappy lawyers. There is a lawyer in this who is dating Maddy, named Bob Lemon. Well, Bob Lemon does the smart thing exactly once. He tells Maddy that she should not go investigating other people for a murder she might be a suspect for. She jumps all over him for it and pretty much puts him in the doghouse for it for a good chunk of the book. And he apologizes for it! I mean, the dude is a lawyer and the first rule of good lawyering is to get your dumb client who is going around looking very suspicious to you know, shut up. If I was Bob Lemon I would not have apologized. I would have demanded my hourly rate of $100 an hour for that one bit of advice and left Maddy to make her own dang mess.
  • The suspects in this book never looked like they had that much guilt or motive or even opportunity to do this crime but why would they confess anything to Eleanor and Maddy? They do have a friend that seems to intimidate people because he must be into some criminal stuff but that doesn’t seem like enough for someone who committed murder to just be like, oh yeah, I am gonna confess every dark secret of mine to you.
  • Also, as I said I won’t give away who did it but like in every one of these stories, why would the killer actually confess in the last part of the book? They had every opportunity to you know, shut up and just kill the people confronting them. All I can think is that person must also be dating and ignoring a lawyer who gave good advice and then apologized for it.
  • This book even has the prerequisite relationship with a criminal and the protaganist (in this case a pizza maker) that makes no sense at all. I mean, this may have come about in previous books but how many small shop pizza owners are like, yeah let me hang out with a mobster? I could almost buy it if the protagonist were crooked or, like in law enforcement but just a pizza shop owner? Really?
  • Speaking of crimes. In several sections of the book they mention that the local health inspector is away on a honeymoon. Well, it’s a good thing because the kitchen in A Slice of Delight seems to be like Grand Central Station. (Well Grand Central Station a few weeks ago). Everyone shows up there to ask Eleanor stuff, tell Eleanor stuff, and do this dishes with Eleanor. I mean, are there no rules about this sort of thing? She doesn’t even tell anyone to put on a hair net or gloves or anything. It made me want pizza less and that is nearly impossible.
  • There is one thing that I can say for this series though. Their pun game is strong. This one is A Pizza to Die for but they have a bunch of other books with titles like, A Slice of Murder and Rest in Pizza. I wholeheartedly approve. I am gonna murder that slice of pizza to die for and go rest in the remains of it now.

Man that book and review made me really want pizza. Think anyone will deliver to a monster filled dungeon out in the middle of nowhere in thirty minutes or less?

Hungrily yours,

Slick Dungeon

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P.S. Hungry for more murder pizza? Check out this series here!

Doggie Day Care Murder – #BookReview

Killers Confess to rAndom Strangers all the Time Though

Have you ever met someone who took one look at you and pretty much decided that they would tell you their whole life story and just straight up confess to murder despite you not being a cop or anyone of any authority who could reasonably do something about a murder confession? Me neither. But that’s pretty much what happens in Doggie Day Care Murder by Laurien Bereson

If you love cozy little mysteries and well trained dogs who get displayed in dog shows, Doggie Day Care Murder is perfectly fine and would make a nice short little read for a plane or on a beach or whatever. If you have a brain that tends to pick things apart and wonder why any of this would even be a possibility, then stay away from this book.

Here’s a summary. Melanie Travers is a mother to two children, one of them still a pretty new infant, and an owner of five standard poodles. Apparently these are the “big kind” of poodles. I know this because that fact was mentioned about three hundred times. Melanie’s friend Alice also has a dog named, Berkeley. Alice is going back to work at a law firm that her husband seems to be a partner in. Alice needs Melanie to check out this doggie day care center that she might put Berkeley in because, Alice, “doesn’t know about dog stuff”, despite, well, having a dog and a reasonable mind. Melanie agrees to go check the place out. Then she drags Alice to the place (even though Melanie is supposed to be the one doing the checking out of the place) at which point one of the owners is discovered to have been shot and is lying dead in his office. For no rational reason that I can discern, Alice now wants Melanie to investigate this murder and promises the co-owner/sister of the murdered man that Melanie will solve this crime. A lot of running around, lying, talking, being terrible at jobs, and dog shows occur. Melanie solves the murder, is almost murdered, and then gets to see her kid come in second place in a dog show. Err… the dog comes in second? I dunno the kid gets a ribbon or whatever. Yay!

I had a few thoughts.

  • At the beginning of the book Melanie checks out this Doggie Day Care. Literally everyone she tells about this rolls their eyes at a place calling itself a doggie day care. Yet all these people are dog owners and not a freaking one of them has heard of this? Ok boomer.
  • Likewise when it is revealed that a dog is named Joyjoy, all the “real” dog people in the book are flabbergasted. It’s a freaking dog. There are plenty of weird names people can give their dogs, come on, get less judgmental for a minute here.
  • As soon as Melanie strolls into the day care center with no appointment and clearly having done zero research about the place at all, demands an appointment with the co-owner. Melanie is utterly disgusted with the attitude of the teenage clerk behind the counter. You know what? I think the girl behind the counter was reasonably wondering why this lady is judging her so harshly. Also, the teenager is probably not getting paid much here so back off lady. Yet Melanie is like, why can’t some people be polite? Good question Melanie, good question. Ask it of yourself.
  • Melanie tours this place, realizes they care about the dogs and is pretty much gonna recommend it to Alice but still drags Alice over to check it out. You know, just in case Melanie simply caught them on a good day. Fair enough, you don’t want some scumbag abusing your dog so I get that. But it sounded to me really like Melanie was too damn lazy to decide if she was going to give a good opinion to her friend.
  • Next thing, Steve, the co-owner of the place is murdered and Melanie and Alice are there when his body is found. The police talk to the two women to see what they were doing there and why. Melanie gets all defensive about it and is like, why would you suspect us? So, here’s the the thing, Melanie, if that is your real name, you show up a day ago, demand to see an owner, disappear and the next day you show up, the dude is freaking dead. That seems suspicious to me. And that is not to mention the fact that Melanie in previous books has “solved murders”. So now, she’s showing up around a lot of dead bodies, And dogs apparently.
  • The sister/co-owner of the place then agrees to let Melanie snoop into the murder because, umm… she likes dogs? And hey, yeah suspicious lady that I only met a day ago and showed up after my brother turned up dead, you are likely the best person to figure this out.
  • Once Melanie decides to take up the case, she goes around talking to all kinds of people. Her plan is to pretend that she was hired by Candy to redesign the website for the doggie day care. That would make sense if she a. had any experience designing websites, b. ever took a picture or did anything that might remotely seem like she was designing a website or c. turned on the computer and uh… looked at the old website a single time. Nope, she never does any of that. She is pretty much like, hey I am here to redo the website can I talk to you for a minute, and then people say yeah sure, and her next question is, who do you think killed Steve? My response to that would have been, is there going to be a who killed Steve section of the website? Do you know javascript? I googled you, you know and you show up in a lot of murder cases. But nope, people are just like oh cool, new website, yeah Steve sucked or Steve was great or whatever they thought. I feel like the author was like, what kind of job sounds vague enough for people to buy that they would talk to Melanie? Website design! Let me make sure Melanie never does any.
  • There is a side plot about Melanie’s kid Davey who is learning how to compete in a dog show. Melanie frequently rolls her eyes at all these people who are richer than her, like the guy who drives a hummer and doesn’t seem to realize that most people who are in the “competitive dog show world” must have a fair amount of disposable income to you know, be in, “the competitive dog show world”. I assume it is not a cheap hobby.
  • Also, I am just gonna give this away so if you want to read the book and be surprised don’t read this but… the guy who is the murderer? Not good at training his dog. Because, if you can’t train your dog well, according to this book, you are a horrible, horrible, horrible person who probably named a dog the wrong name.
  • The police show up exactly twice in this book. Once, when the body is found and once when Melanie is almost killed by the murderer. What in the blasted blue blazes do the tax dollars of people in Stamford, Connecticut pay for anyway, huh?
  • I assume that the whole thing with there being no police was so the author didn’t have to really explain the conflict that Melanie would have with them. But here are a few of the things Melanie does. Let me know if any of them would seem weird enough to have police get called on her. 1. She goes to a neighbor who hated Steve and falsely gives the impression that she is on the city board. 2. She keeps showing up at this doggie day care, asking a whole freaking lot of questions about the murder victim. 3. She basically stalks a guy outside his neighborhood just so she can find out if he was a co-owner of the day care. 4. She goes into a clothing store and threatens to sit there all day until one of the workers will talk to her about Steve’s death. The woman she wants to talk to I remind you, is working, and has sued Steve in the past and is threatening to again. Yet the woman talks to her rather than saying, I do not have to talk to you and lawyer or not I can call the cops for you harassing me. 5. She goes to a pet store, berates the store for encouraging her to breed her standard poodle, demands to see a delivery guy there and then interrogates him. 6. She gets Candy to give her the password to Steve’s computer so she can see what his business files have. I utterly guarantee you that any evidence found a result of Melanie’s efforts is not going to be accepted in a court case. You know, unless it’s the case where they throw the book at Melanie.
  • Finally, the last point I want to make is that the whodunit here wasn’t that hard to figure out based on behavior towards dogs. Why make it a mystery if it is going to be that obvious? Just call it, Melanie tries to do a job at a doggie day care place but would rather talk about murder.

My next review will be for Geek Girls Don’t Date Dukes. Oh don’t they know? I kind of think the title is lying to me.

Doggedly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Dare to Die (Death on Demand Series #19) – Book Review

I have questions

Slick Dungeon here. What are the odds that a person with the last name of Dungeon is trapped in a dungeon? I’d say pretty high since here I am. I’ve slogged through another mystery book this week. While Death on Demand was actually not a bad book exactly, it left me with many questions.

If you like tight little mystery books, seriously you could do worse than this one. It is the 19th in a series though, so at points I was a little lost as I haven’t read the others. But I have questions. So many questions. One of them involves salty snacks and soda fizz. This book led my mind to some strange places.

The story centers on a bookshop owner who runs a little place called Death on Demand, that sells mystery books. Apparently, Annie, the bookstore owner has been involved in solving some crimes in the past, including clearing her own name and later her husband’s name of murder. For this entry in the series, a young woman named Iris comes back to the island everyone in the book lives on, gets invited to a party that Annie is hosting and winds up dead. Annie, her husband and the local police solve the murder. Since this book is a decent enough read I am not going to spoil the plot too much in case anyone wants to read it. But I am going to ask a few questions. If you have answers, let me know in the comments.

Questions:

  1. Does every mystery author have to name drop Agatha Christie?
  2. There’s a pretty funny part with Annie’s mother-in-law who teaches Tai-Chi in the bookshop. How big is this store? Is there really room to do Tai-Chi?
  3. If it weren’t for the deaths I would say this book is full of first world problems, these people drive around in golf carts, have oyster roasts and are moving into this big house. So my question is, who did they kill to get all that money?
  4. Okay, so if Annie was once suspected of murder, and so was her husband, Max, why the heck would cops be so friendly with these people? Cops can be jerks (not all cops but some) when you haven’t done a thing so why be so deferential to two people who keep getting wrapped up in murder cases? Nothing suspicious here!
  5. With all these deaths on the island of Broward’s Rock, why do people freaking live here? I mean the scenery seems nice and all, other than the dead bodies you seem to practically trip over.
  6. If Annie and Max have solved crimes before, and their friends who might be suspects in this murder investigation know it, why would anyone talk to Annie and Max? I mean the killer does try to kill them but why lead them on at all. Hey Annie and Max, – bang your dead, seems like a more effective way of silencing them to me.
  7. More to the point, if Annie and Max have been framed for murder, and presumably almost been killed before why o why would they talk to people who might have murdered someone else? That’s just asking for it.
  8. Okay, so ignoring questions 6 and 7, let’s say it was fine for these people to talk to Annie and Max, they are not police. Whatever evidence they gather wouldn’t really be admissible in court would it? So what’s the point? Let the cops do their jobs in this case guys!
  9. As a way of deluding herself into thinking that she isn’t really getting involved in the case, but helping Iris’ soul to find peace, Annie calls all of Iris’ old friends to get information for a “spirit poster”. Is that a real thing? I mean what is that? I get having nice blow up pictures of the deceased for funerals but seriously, is a spirit poster a thing? Everyone in the book seems to know what that is and I was like, what is a freaking spirit poster?
  10. At one point in the book a character says this, “Of course I can smell. It’s my head that hurts not my nose.” Are noses no longer considered part of the head?
  11. Does this book have to name drop ever mystery book and author that ever lived? Here’s a quote from the book, “She had delighted last week in pointing out to Annie the little-known fact that the office of Charlaine Harris, bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse Southern vampire series was decorated with black-and-white photos of New Orleans grave art. Annie wondered if Charlaine Harris enjoyed Sarah Stewart Taylor’s mysteries that celebrated funerary art.” I wonder if Carolyn Hart had a word count to fulfill and realized paragraphs like the one quoted above would help her with that.
  12. No but seriously, is it every mystery book ever? Here’s another quote,”A poster of Allies Day, May 1917 by Childe Hassam rested on an easel. Annie nodded her approval when she saw the books with their roots in World War I: The Murder Stone by Charles Todd, Angels in the Gloom by Anne Perry, Pardonable Lies by Jaqueline Win-spear, The Mark of the Lion by Suzanne Arruda, and Twenty-Three and a Half Hour’s Leave by Mary Roberts Rineheart.” The book is littered with passages like these. So many mystery novels, so many. Yo Dawg, I heard you like mysteries so I put a mystery in your mystery so you can mystery while you mystery.
  13. An odd quote to me here, “She attracted men from nine to ninety…” Never met a nine year old man myself, but I guess you never know?
  14. This question is my most vital question. I have to know the answer to this. If anyone out there in the internets can answer this, even if you ignore all the rest of my blog post, I will be eternally grateful to you. There is a part in the book where a character asks “You like peanuts in your Coke?” The book seems to indicate this is a southern thing. IS THIS REAL? Like for real, do people do that? If so that utterly blows my mind. Who thought to do that? Where does that come from? Why? Please let me know, my life is incomplete until I have an answer.
  15. Back to the thrust of the book. In one part Annie goes back to the woods where the murder happened and thinks to herself there is no danger now. Why would she think that? Dead bodies, attacks on her life, and the dang crime scene is safe? I don’t think so.
  16. In addition to all the name dropped books, did we have to go into extreme detail about every meal that Annie and Max ate? I get you want to say they are eating dinner but is this necessary? “He deftly served their plates, flounder with mushrooms and sour cream and grilled asparagus for Max, fried oysters on an onion bun and a hot German potato salad for Annie, Two unsweetened iced teas.” I’m no professional writer or script doctor but I think I can safely say, typing out a menu doesn’t drive the plot forward here. Also, Carolyn Hart is totally trying to meet her word count right?
  17. Another quote that struck me as odd, “Nice thing about an island is that everybody’s here unless they’re not.” Isn’t that true of all geographical locations? If I was not in this dungeon, I would not be here. Then again, maybe I’m out. I’ll have to check later. (A few minutes later) Nope, still here.
  18. In the climax of the book, they ask all the suspects to gather at a pavilion. Why would someone smart enough to murder the right people just show up to this?
  19. On that note, just because you know who had motive to kill someone doesn’t mean you have the actual evidence, This happens all the time in mystery novels but you really actually need hard evidence in a murder case and all the motive is just figured out by Annie and Max, I don’t think you’d have to be a good lawyer to get the murderer off. Pretty easy to sow doubt and say, who are these people that got to go interrogate witnesses. What’s the badge number? This is more a criticism of mysteries than this book in particular but it will always bug me.
  20. Are Annie and Max going to start hanging out with Agatha Raisin? I think they could have a nice little serial killers who got away with it brunch together sometime.

Twenty seems like a good round number to end on. Next week I will be back to review A Time to Love (Quilts of Lancaster County Series #1). Is it a quilt with a picture of Lancaster County or just quilts that belong to Lancaster County? Who is Lancaster County anyway? Sounds like a cowboy name to me. Do cowboys like quilts? Why won’t my brain turn off? Anyway.

Despairingly yours,

Slick Dungeon