February 21, 2013

Review: Red Hot Murder a Delight!

Red Hot Murder
An Angie Amalfi Mystery, Bk 13
Joanne Pence

Mass Market Paperback, Avon Books, 2006, 334p.
ISBN: 9780060758059

Just Deserts

Dilettante chef Angie Amalfi doubts if she'll actually survive her engagement to San Francisco homicide detective Paavo Smith, what with her meddling mom micromanaging the whole affair.  So Angie leaps at the chance to spend some time away with her fiance in the sun-drenched Arizona desert town where he'd spent time as a boy - and maybe explore the possibility of a Southwestern themed wedding feast.

But her groom-to-be is going back there to help a friend investigate the murder of a wealthy local - and it seems this tiny desert community is a hotbed of deadly secrets.  And when a second course of murder is served up, suddenly Angie's tasty getaway with her lover is starting to look more and more like her final meal.

This is the first Angie Amalfi book I've ever picked up and I have to say that even though I've missed out of 12 other books worth of back story - I loved it.  Angie is a real foodie who doesn't like it when people dis or dismiss her, or her cooking - or her Paavo.

In this book we see her and her fiance, Paavo Smith (odd name combo), on their way to revisit a place from his mostly unhappy childhood.  As with most mysteries, we have a dead body or two, obscure clues, more than a few suspects and a twist that turns the hunt for the killer on it's ear.  I found Angie and Paavo to have a good chemistry even though there wasn't a lot of 'we' time, and unlike most of the leading men of the cop persuasion, he's okay with letting Angie hunt around for some clues.  An Italian girl, we catch glimpses of her family life including a mother who looks like turning into a bridezilla - all on her daughter's behalf, of course - as well as a cast of weird and downright bitchy characters who have hunkered down in the dead man's house.  One of my favourites was the local diner cook who made some of the most disgusting food out, and her reaction to Angie's taste testing is so funny.

This book is much more than a cosy mystery but I wouldn't call it a police procedural/detective mystery either.  Think of this as cosy plus.  Since it's a foodie mystery there are the expected recipes in the back of the book.  Of the three recipes, the Bourbon Pecan Chocolate Pie (see below) makes me drool.  So, if you've enjoyed Stephanie Bond, Karen E. Olsen, Kathleen Bachus or Carolyn Hart then you'll get a kick out of Angie Amalfi.

Angie Amalfi's Bourbon Pecan Chocolate Pie

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (or walnuts if desired)
4 eggs
½ cup light corn syrup
¼ cup honey
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3 tbsp bourbon
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
pinch ground nutmeg
pinch ground cinnamon
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
pastry for 1 pie crust

Heat oven to 350°F.  Toast the pecans in a small pan over med-high heat, tossing often to make sure they roast evenly.  Set aside to cool.

In a bowl add eggs, corn syrup, honey, sugar, brown sugar, butter, bourbon, vanilla  flour, nutmeg and cinnamon.  Beat until mixture is smooth.

Break your chocolate into little bits, and add with the pecans (or walnuts) into the mixture.  Mixing well so that the chocolate and pecans are distributed evenly.

Pour into uncooked pie crust and bake at 350°F until set.  This should take about 40-50 minutes.  Check using a skewer or toothpick to check if pie is cooked -the skewer/toothpick should come out clean - and put aside to cool.  Best served slightly warm with ice-cream.  Enjoy!

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