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Cooking Most Deadly, from the Angie Amalfi Series, by Joanne Pence. Review

Updated on November 9, 2014

Cooking Most Deadly, by Joanne Pence -- Fourth in the Angelina Amalfi Series

In some ways, I found this book charming. I liked the fact that the amateur detective is close with her family. I like the fact that she's a food critic, thus involved with two of life's greatest joys --- eating and writing.

Each mystery of this series contains a recipe or two. I thought the recipes were a part of the story, as in The Gourmet Detective, by Peter King, but they're added at the end --- which is fine.

The amateur detective is Angelina Amalfi, a food critic. She meets with three ex-cons who run an ersatz "restaurant" as a front for some digging they are doing into the jewelry store next door.

Meanwhile, there's a psychopath on the loose who has set his sights on Angelina. He sends his victims a dozen roses before he invades their homes.

There's also a sub-plot about Angelina and her boyfriend, Paavo Smith --- cop, luckily enough for her --- and whether or not she is ready to marry. She discusses this with her sister, her mom, and even the three ex-cons.

Offensive to People with Disabilities.

I dislike the theme of the deranged killer. For one thing, it's unfair to the many people with psych disabilities who do have a conscience and live quietly and peacefully.

The media doesn't seem to know the difference between "psychotic" and "psychopathic".

People with psych (i.e., psychiatric or psychological) disorders or disabilities are vulnerable enough already.

They are actually more likely to be the victims of violence than to ever commit violence. Sensationalistic stories like this are making their lives even more difficult.

Perhaps even making them less safe by inciting hostility toward them.

I never call anyone mentally "ill", or use the term mental "illness", as I say in my Hub entitled, "Why I Never Call Anyone 'Mentally Ill'".

I Don't Recommend This Book

I don't know yet about the other books in this series. I might check them out, if I get a chance. So far, I'm not really enamored.

Except for the three ex-cons. They're actually rather captivating --- and great cooks, as well.

A storyline like this perpetuates stereotypes about people with psych disorders or disabilities, but there's another, lighter issue, as well.

What's the point of a murder mystery with no motive. That kind of detracts from all the fun.

Means, motive and opportunity ---- take one of those away; what do you have left? Only two thirds of a proper mystery. Also, perhaps reading murder mysteries is a way of making myself feel that I've gained a bit of control over the Grim Reaper, because of the order and logic of it all.

When the murderer is a psychopath, that's all missing.

This book also has a little too much smooching and other romance for my taste.

I would not classify this as a cozy because of the excessive violence. Psychopathic serial killers have a tendency to take a book way out of the cozy orbit. Another reason I don't recommend this book.

Fourth in the Series

This book is the fourth in a series of fourteen Angelina Amalfi mysteries. A little bit about the other books in the series follows in the table, below, entitled "Complete List of Angie Amalfi Mysteries, In Order." The information in the table is all from Joanne's website.

This is a synopsis of the information on Joanne's website, under the page, "Series". The link is below.

Complete List of Angie Amalfi Mysteries, In Order

Something's Cooking
Angie and Paavo first meet.
Too Many Cooks
Angie works at a radio call-in show.
Cooking Up Trouble
Angie develops a menu for an inn on the coast.
Cooking Most Deadly
Reviewed, above.
Cook's Night Out
Angie develops a new chocolate desert, amid crime at the Random Acts of Kindness Mission.
Cook Overboard
Angie hopes Paavo will propose during a cruise. Instead, the cook tries to jump, her luggage is rifled . . .
A Cook in Time
Angie makes a menu for UFO enthusiasts.
To Catch a Cook
Paavo finds out who his biological parents are.
Bell, Cook and Candle
Angie makes a funny cake for a Goth club. Turns out not to be so funny after all.
If Cooks Could Kill
Angie tries to set her friend, Connie, up with a guy. Connie is interested in a different guy.
Two Cooks A-Killling
Angie prepares a banquet for a reunion of actors from her favorite soap opera.
Courting Disaster
Angie's neighbor gets a crush on a pregnant cook in a Greek restaurant.
Red Hot Murder
Angie and Paavo visit Arizona, where Paavo grew up.
Da Vinci Cook
Angie goes to Rome when her sister becomes a murder suspect.
For a rundown of the entire series on one page, go to Joanne's website --- link below --- and click on "Series".


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    • Huntgoddess profile image

      Huntgoddess 6 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      Yes, Real Life ---- but on steroids sometimes, I think.

      Yes, wow, this book and the movie both sound really good. I know what you mean about seeing the movie first. With this one, I think either way will work nicely, though. I'm looking it up online, and perhaps will be able to rent either the book or the movie soon.

      I hope! Right now would be a really good time, because I have a few days where I only have a million things to do, instead of the usuall jillion.

      Thanks again, JG. I'm checking out your blog right now. It really sounds delicious, which is why I'm afraid to go there. I won't be able to stop reading :-)

      Take care.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Note: the movie includes most but not all of the letters between Helene and bookshop staff that are in the book. Which is not to say that this hurts the storyline, or leaves glaring gaps as sometimes happens in books made into movies. I saw the movie first, then got the book, then watched the movie again...and again...and again. Seeing the movie first, though, does give you faces and voices to put with the names in the letters in the book.

      No need to apologize for being absent from HP. It's that Real Life thing again, right? ;D

    • Huntgoddess profile image

      Huntgoddess 6 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      I love Anne Bancroft, and I also love Anthony Hopkins. Wow, this sounds really marvous! Yes, I'm seeing, and reading --- in which order, depends on Fate. As usual, thanks for the great information.

      Sorry to take so long to respond. There have been many crazy things in my life. Haven't been online for a while, unfortunately. I won't bore you with all the details --- although I may write a Hub about it someday.

      Take care, JG.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      As Helen Hanff says in "84, Charing Cross Road": 'England is whatever you want it to be. Whatever you're looking for, it's there'. Or something like that. Right off hand I can't find the passage in my copies of "84" or the sequel, "The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street".

      btw, if you haven't read "84, Charing" or seen the movie (Anne Bancroft as NYC writer Helene Hanff and Anthony Hopkins as London bookseller Frank Doel), you've missed one of life's literary treats! ;D

    • Huntgoddess profile image

      Huntgoddess 6 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      I think I have to go there then. Sounds wonderful!

      Thanks, JG

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Not a romantic stereotype as far as I could see traveling around the South of England. And the villagers I met here and there were every bit as quirky OR reserved as the characters in the Raisin books. A most interesting place if you're a people-watcher (which I am). ;D

    • Huntgoddess profile image

      Huntgoddess 6 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      So, it's not just a romantic stereotype? About the English countryside?

      WOW!! Good to know.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      I didn't get to the Cotswolds proper when I was in England, but I can tell you that English villages in general are *exactly* like the one Agatha Raisin lives in. Which is why the two main geographical designations are London and "The Country" (aka "Everywhere Else"). ;D

    • Huntgoddess profile image

      Huntgoddess 6 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      Mrs. Jeffreys sounds pretty amazing. I really want to read this series.

    • Huntgoddess profile image

      Huntgoddess 6 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      Well, you certainly know your stuff. It's really great to read what you have written. I'm flattered by your attention to my hubs. Thanks, JG.

      I started reading Agatha Raisin recently --- actually due to a Hub (about "Five Detectives in a Nice Place Books" or something like that) and I really fell in love with her and the Cotswolds. I've read a couple already --- alas, not in order (again!)

      Thanks for telling me about these new series. This will definitely decrease my nightmares ;-)

      Happy (vicarious) sleuthing!

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Nope, don't work in a library either, only patronize them (and Used Books at on a regular basis. At least after the internet came along, I no longer have to visit the Reference section of a library, which was another of my regular haunts! ;D

    • Huntgoddess profile image

      Huntgoddess 6 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      Wow, JG, thanks so much for this great, detailed information. Now I'm even more anxious than before to read these. It's so great to learn about these series.

      Well, rivaling Agatha Christie is no easy task, that's for sure. So, I have to meet this Mrs. Jeffreys, and Emily Brightwell.

      Avid reader, huh? Perhaps you work in a library? Ah, well, I'm no amateur sleuth myself. I just like to read about them. LOL. Thanks again JG.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      HG, I've had those same nightmares, usually when I've just finished the last book in a series I've become particularly fond of!

      The Mrs. Jeffreys series is set in Victorian London in the late 1880s/early 90s. She's a widow in her late 50s who's the housekeeper for a never-married, 40-something inspector (detective) at Scotland Yard who's not the sharpest tack in the box when it comes to solving murders. He inherited the townhouse in a fashionable neighborhood from his wealthy great-aunt. It was a condition of the inheritance that he keep her footman, coachman, cook and maid. Mrs. Jeffreys was hired to supervise them, but ends up mothering them instead.

      Since the inspector didn't grow up "posh", the rules for the household staff are rather lax - they're more like a big family, actually - which allows them to run around London finding clues to solve the inspector's current murder case...without his knowledge! Mrs. Jeffreys cleverly passes on the clues they find to the inspector while making him believe HE solves the murders on his own! Ms. Brightwell is not big on historical accuracy - often the staff will travel across London ON FOOT in a matter of minutes - but the characters are so real that it doesn't matter.

      Mrs. Jeffreys is touted as the "Victorian Jane Marple", but despite being a die-hard Miss Marple fan, I think Mrs. J. is slightly better at sniffing out the guilty party. Ms. Brightwell weaves intricate plots that rival Agatha Christie's. Of the 28 books in the series, I've read 18 and have only figured out who did it before the "aha! moment" in four. Real page turners! But be sure to start with the first three books, which are published as a one-volume trilogy.

      I made the mistake of reading my first Agatha Raisin right after a Mrs. Jeffreys. What a culture shock THAT was! Jarring, actually, to jump from Victorian London to the modern day Cotswolds! If anything in a Cotswold village could be called "modern", that is!

      Father Tim is Anglican/Episcopalian, but you have to look long and hard to determine that, which is the beauty of this series. The books are liberally sprinkled with scripture but never "preachy". Fr. Tim is just a really nice never-married (at least at the beginning) 60+ guy who happens to be a priest in the village of Mitford, North Carolina. His future wife moves into the house next door, but it takes him forever to admit that she's his soul mate. Meanwhile, you become thoroughly acquainted with the quirky residents of Mitford. Another can't-put-it-down series!

      Oddly, just last week an elderly Catholic friend in Missouri recommended Father Brown! I read a couple of the short stories online. What a quirky little man! Hercule Poirot in a frock! So I went to my library's website and reserved the rest. I'd also reserved two Agatha Raisins, so I haven't opened any of the Fr. Browns, but will in the next day or two.

      I've heard of the Rabbi series, but haven't read any of them either (yet!).

      Thank you for the compliment, but I am neither professor or teacher, just an avid reader and student of Life In General! ;D

    • Huntgoddess profile image

      Huntgoddess 6 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      Thanks for reading my Hub, JamaGeneee, and, yes, I'm always looking for new amateur sleuths, as well. I might start having nightmares soon about running out of series. :-)

      Not to worry, though. I think there's plenty to keep us busy. The Poetic Death series does really sound good. I'm looking forward to reading those. I really like Diana Killian's yoga series, too --- well, at least the one I've read so far, above.

      I just learned of Agatha Raisin --- from a Hub, in fact. I've read a couple of those, so far --- not in order, unfortunately. I thought they were really good --- funny, smart, nicely-paced. I haven't tried Emily Brighwell yet. I'll put her on my list, though. What's Mrs. Jeffreys' day job?

      No, I've never even heard of the Mitford series with Fr. Kavanaugh. Is he a Catholic or Episcopalian (Anglican) priest? Sounds good, either way. So far, I don't have any clergy in my arsenal of amateur sleuths. LOL I have read one Fr. Brown, by Chesterton, though.

      Which reminds me --- there's that rabbi series, too. _Saturday the Rabbi Slept Late_, and so forth. Never read any of those, but always wanted to.

      JG, you must be a professor or teacher. You've read, like, everything in the western world.

      Ah, yes, Western Civilization . . . As Gandhi (may have) said, "I think it would be a good idea."

      Take care, JG. I'm honored that you have read my hubs.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      I'm looking for a new amateur sleuth to follow after exhausting my library's supply of and access to the "Mrs. Jeffreys" series by Emily Brightwell as well as the "Agatha Raisin" series by M.C. Beaton. Will have to check pun intended...Diana Killian's Poetic Death series.

      Have you read the Mitford series by (author's name escapes me) which features Father Tim Kavanaugh? I'm guessing they qualify as "cozies".