Sunday, July 27, 2014

Amateur Sleuth in the Deli: TO KILL A MATZO BALL, Delia Rosen

I get a kick out of the amateur sleuth mysteries that Kensington provides as paperback original. These are generally light-hearted, quickly paced, with likeable protagonists and no gruesome nightmares.

TO KILL A MATZO BALL, the new "Deadly Deli" series title from Delia Rosen, fits all those descriptors -- except, as amateur sleuth and relatively new delicatessen owner Gwen Katz notes several times, the threats here are directed at her personally. That's quite a change from what Gwen has experienced so far in her Nashville, Tennessee, restaurant and catering operation. In earlier titles (like A Brisket, A Casket and A Killer in the Rye), Gwen's helped out others around her whose lives tilted from some form of murderous attack. This time, she's in danger from the very first chapter.

Rosen (who is actually Jeff Rovin) keeps the action rapid and questions multiply: What's the Chinese underworld doing around Gwen's deli? Why is the deli a safer place for her to sleep than her own home? Is there a leak in the police force, where her former boyfriend Detective Grant Daniels (who is no longer "into her") works? And will business ever get back to normal, after all the gunshots fired around Gwen?

If you love Nashville, cozy mysteries, and heroines with pluck who also need a hug (sometimes a passionate one), grab a copy for summer fun. The Yiddish expressions are a bit over the top this time, I think, and the author's "real" gender seems to leak through in more places than I expected. But as always, for a Delia Rosen mystery, the clues are well scattered, the motive-means-opportunity makes sense eventually (if a bit eccentric!), and the twinned environments of Southern city and Jewish deli create a unique atmosphere. Available as both paperback and audio version, like the others Rosen/Rovin has written (author/publisher website here).

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