Victoria Rienzi came home to the Jersey Shore to write a new book, learn the family restaurant business, and practice the fine art of Italian cooking. But when delicious dishes are paired with murder, Vic has a little too much on her plate…
When Vic asked her nonna for more responsibility in the kitchen, she didn’t mean making a thousand tiny meatballs by hand for the family’s famous wedding soup. The dish is to be served at the reception for a close family friend at the exclusive Belmont Country Club. And once there Vic has to deal with a demanding bridezilla and clashes in the kitchen—between the staff and servers, between two egocentric head chefs, and between the country club president and…well…everyone.
The wedding comes off without a hitch—until the body of the club’s president is found on the beach below a high seawall. Now Vic will need to use her noodle to find out who pushed whom too far…before she’s the one who lands in the soup!
Like a sumptious feast of Italian cuisine, Wedding Soup Murder satiates both body and mind. After our wedding, my brother took the entire wedding party to the Ristorante della Fontana in Salt Lake City. They don't put all the food on the table at once; each meal there had seven courses, so there was elbow room, plenty of time to talk with your tablemates, and no rushing to eat everything before it got cold.
Ms. Genova dishes up exposition and action at the right amounts at the right times to bring out the full flavors of this book. 'Nonna' may even be proud. In the opening chapter, we learn that Vic is making 1,000 (that's one t.h.o.u.s.a.n.d) tiny meatballs for the Wedding Soup her family's restaurant is providing for the wedding reception of a family friend. If Nonna ever gets tired of cooking (as if!), she could go on to co-ordinate military campaigns that could put the Joint Chiefs of Staff out of business. Vic's ex-boyfriend is a chef at the restaurant. Danny (Vic's brother) and his wife Sophia are separated. Each of these threads continues throughout the book in one form or another.
Once getting to the country club's kitchen, they are 'greeted' (if you can call it that) by two Michelin-star
Here some of the traditional elements of cozy mysteries kick in. Of course, the heroine, Vic, has to start investigating. The local authorities (in this case, her brother Danny) tries to warn her off. Then Vic and her investigation start to rub some people (oh, the killer, you know) the wrong way, and things get a little ... dangerous. But each of these elements is handled with such wit and just the right amount of seasoning, that Wedding Soup Murder will leave a smile on your face and a wonderful memory in your heart for a long time ... or until the next installment comes out. ;)
A Jersey girl born and bred, national bestselling author Rosie Genova left her heart at the shore, which serves as the setting for much of her work. Her new series, the Italian Kitchen Mysteries, is informed by her appreciation for good food, her pride in her heritage, and her love of classic mysteries from Nancy Drew to Miss Marple. Her debut novel, Murder and Marinara, was named a 2013 Best Cozy by Suspense Magazine and is a finalist for a 2014 Daphne Award. An English teacher by day and novelist by night, Rosie also writes women’s fiction as Rosemary DiBattista. She still lives in her home state with her husband and the youngest of her three Jersey boys.
INTERVIEW WITH MS. GENOVA
[Please call me Rosie!]
1. What did you have published first and how does that differ from what you do now?
Years ago I published a non-fiction book for teens about body image for a small trade house. However, I have several unpublished novels which are romantic comedies--modern updates of my favorite Shakespeare plays. In some ways, they are similar to my mystery series. They take place at the Jersey shore among Italian-American families, and food is featured prominently. And since I am a believer in having some romance in your mystery as well as mystery in your romance, there is certainly overlap in the two genres.
2. What do your students think about you being a published author/writer?
My older students take it quite in stride, but my freshmen seem more hesitant to ask questions about the writing life. I do know a number of them peek at my Facebook page and my blog.
3. What are some of your favorite reads?
In the classics, all of Jane Austen; all of the Bronte sisters; also, Middlemarch by George Eliot and To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. In mystery and suspense, I am a big fan of Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, PD James, Josephine Tey and Ngaio Marsh. For romantic suspense there's no one better than Mary Stewart and Daphne DuMaurier. Among living mystery writers, I read Louise Penny, Elizabeth George, Charles Todd, Deborah Crombie, and I've recently discovered Robert Galbraith, who is, of course, JK Rowling.
4. Is it difficult to switch between your writer personas?
Not really, because most of my focus now is on the Italian Kitchen series, so I'm not doing much switching. And I would say that my writer's voice is similar for both genres.
5. Is the full recipe for the "Italian Kitchen Mysteries" written or do you grate a little of this, add a little of that ... and see what develops?
Love the cooking metaphor! I generally start with a synopsis--let's call it a recipe--for the novel, but I will get creative as I go, adding flavors and layers.
6. Have you ever been to Italy?
I've been fortunate enough to have visited Italy a couple of times, most recently in the summer of 2012. I do get a sense of "coming home" when I go there, particularly when we visit with my husband's family, all of whom are amazing cooks. Let's just say I'm grateful for all those Italian hills!
7. How did your fox terrier come into your family?
Ah, our little Baci--how we miss her. We knew we wanted to buy that breed, because our youngest son had asthma and we wanted a non-shedding dog. She was a wire-hair, and if you know anything about them, you know that are a little pozzo (crazy) as we say in Italian. When we went to the store to pick one from the litter, she made a beeline right for us and took one of my son's shoelaces into her mouth and started dancing around him like he was a little Maypole. We all fell in love on the spot. What we didn't realize, however, is that her confidence in greeting us meant that she was the alpha dog--and she spent the next fourteen years trying to prove it.
8. What is your favorite food to make? To eat?
I love to make a good Bolognese sauce; it's a meat sauce that uses a mixture of ground beef, pork, and veal. It has a tomato base, but you add a bit of cream near the end of the cooking that softens that acid and gives it the most beautiful orange color. In terms of what I like to eat, I have many favorites: homemade bread, fresh pasta, most green veggies if they are sauteed in olive oil, and pancetta, which is a spicy Italian bacon. And I have a terrible sweet tooth, particularly for anything chocolate!
9. Did you watch that tv show "Bridezillas" for any of the characters in your book?
Um, no. Okay, maybe I did watch one or two episodes. For research, of course. But once you tune in, you can NOT tear your eyes away from that awful behavior, and you find yourself hoping that the poor groom will dump her before the show is over. In The Wedding Soup Murder, my character of Roberta is difficult, but she is nowhere near as crazy as some of those gals.
10. What advice do you have for young writers?
Write what you love. Love what you write. And don't give up!
(Disclosure: I received a print copy of Wedding Soup Murder from the author and publisher via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.)
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