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  • A Tuscan Cooking School Mystery

    Al Dente’s Inferno by Stephanie Cole is the beginning of A Tuscan Cooking School Mystery series. I enjoyed the word imagery of the Tuscan countryside and the dilapidated Orlandini villa. I had to laugh when Nell found mold and a critter in the public rooms. Nell thought she was just upgrading a farm-to-table cooking school. Instead, it seems she is starting from scratch. Unfortunately, the launch dinner for the local dignitaries is the next evening. Then someone kills the filmmaker which could put the kibosh on the cooking school before it opens. While I enjoyed the Italian setting, I was not a fan of the multiple Italian words and phrases in the story. Some of them are explained, but many of them are not. I quickly tired of them as it disrupted the flow of the story plus I had no clue what they meant (unless I used the translation feature on my e-book). The clichés were another annoyance (way too many). I believe they were meant to be humorous. There are some interesting characters in the story, but I found background information to be lacking. I thought Al Dente’s Inferno was a slow starter. The murder does not occur until you are a third of the way into the story (way too late). If you are a frequent reader of cozy mysteries, you will have already identified the killer by the time the dufus (i.e. the filmmaker and Nell’s ex-boyfriend) turns up dead. There are good clues to aid readers in solving the crime and I liked Nell’s approach to the investigation. It was straightforward with a Jessica Fletcher type reveal at the end. I liked that most of the focus of Al Dente’s Inferno was on cooking and the whodunit. I did not like when it delved into a new romantic interest for Nell. Considering her recent breakup and taste in men, Nell needs to wait before diving into a new romantic relationship (she needs to keep her focus on the school). I did enjoy Nell’s snarky comments. Al Dente’s Inferno could have used a little more work before it was published (in my personal opinion). Al Dente’s Inferno has a crumbling cloister, a pesky porcupine, a curious conveyance, mouthwatering meals, and a frustrating filmmaker.

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