This is the first book in a cozy mystery series that features an Italian-American woman named Francesca Amaro. Francesca is a third generation American, having grown up in a small coastal town in the US state of Massachusetts, and later worked in New York City. She returns to the small town after her mother's passing, to take over the family business, an Italian café.
Part of the plot of the first book in the series relates to how Francesca overcomes her grief. She is quickly joined in the grieving process by an old friend, Matt, who loses his father in mysterious circumstances. Matt and Francesca join forces to find out what happened to the father, and to deal with the grief and the uncertainty about how to live their lives from that point forward. All that loss makes the start to this cozy series not as light and humorous as other cute cozy mystery series.
The books in the Cape Bay Café Mystery Series to date are:
- Cappuccinos, Cupcakes, and a Corpse
- Tea, Tiramisu, and Tough Guys
- Margaritas, Marzipan and Murder
Cozy conventions are followed in the book, with the amateur sleuth having a link to the deceased (actually, she finds the deceased too), then she pursues the investigation for a good-hearted reason, tripping over the police as she investigates in the closed community for the killer in their midst. She may protest about her new role, but Francesca actually loves the distraction.
I was a former public relations manager turned café owner and artisan barista, not a detective.
The third-person limited perspective keeps us in Francesca's mind throughout the story. The book has much about friendship, with Francesca learning to accept the affection offered by the good-hearted small town residents. She slowly begins to recreate her life, bit by bit, with a new home, new friends, a new pet, and a new life in a tourist area owning and working in a tourist business. The process continues over the rest of the books in the series.
There is a light love interest, too, for Francesca, which is in line with the genre, and it is chaste, as is the convention with cute cozies, verses the traditional cozy mysteries which allow for more realistic sexual relationships. Put a stray dog in the mix, and you have a cute cozy that is suitable for tweens and teens as well as adults. The covers are very cute too.
Book Two in the Series
The writing is at a simple, clear level, but there are still too many typos and verb errors in the text. Hopefully they will be edited out soon. And the two recipes that are included at the end of the book (there are two recipes at the end of each book in the series) are not particularly Italian, with the first one missing some instructions, which means not all the ingredients are actually mixed together!
Those quibbles aside, the book and the series is light reading with a hint of Italian, for Italophile fans of cute cozies.
Book Three in the Series
From the book's description:
From USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR Harper Lin: a new cozy mystery series with recipes!
Francesca Amaro moves back to her hometown of Cape Bay, Massachusetts, and takes over the family business, Antonia’s Italian Café. She spends her days making delicious artisan cappuccinos, until she stumbles upon her neighbor’s dead body. When the police discover Mr. Cardosi was poisoned, Francesca becomes a suspect.
The victim’s son, Matty, happens to be Francesca’s old high school friend. Together, they uncover the secrets of the locals in order to find the killer in their idyllic beach town.
Includes two special cupcake recipes!
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