WEDDING SOUP MURDER- Guest Post by Rosie Genova
When I conceived of the idea for a mystery series set in an Italian restaurant, it felt entirely natural to place that restaurant at the Jersey shore, in the fictional town of Oceanside Park. There’s a long tradition of Italian cuisine in New Jersey, from boardwalk stands to upscale restaurants. The setting of the books, the Casa Lido restaurant (which literally means “beach house”) is a family-owned establishment presided over by the tight-knit Rienzi family: Nonna, the matriarch and iron-handed manager; her son Frank, the easygoing host; his wife Nicolina, who keeps the accounts, and their daughter Victoria, my main character. It’s the kind of place that serves rustic, seasonal food in a wood-paneled dining room with red and white checked tablecloths—the kind of place that people go back to, season after season.
In fact, most shore restaurants rely on strong summer business to keep them going throughout the year. In the first Italian Kitchen Mystery, Murder and Marinara, the Casa Lido’s livelihood is threatened when Victoria discovers the corpse of an unpopular television producer in her grandmother’s tomato garden. Since the dead man ate his last meal there, the restaurant suddenly loses its customers, inspiring Vic to use her sleuthing skills to solve the murder in time for the start of the summer season. The book also contains recipes of dishes served in the restaurant, including the marinara sauce in the title. (If you make it once, you’ll never open a jar again!)
In The Wedding Soup Murder, Vic is called upon to help cater the soup course at a wedding reception being held at the upscale Belmont Country Club. Her first job, assigned by her ornery Nonna, is to make a thousand tiny meatballs for the soup! At the reception, she and her ex-boyfriend Tim, now the sous chef at Casa Lido, have to prepare the soup on site at the Belmont. While there, they run afoul of a testy pastry chef, a spoiled bride, and the club’s president, Elizabeth Merriman. When Elizabeth’s body shows up on the beach the next day and a family friend comes under suspicion, Vic reluctantly takes on the case. The soup in the title is made with a meatball recipe that was passed down to me by my mom and grandmother, and if I do say so myself, they are very tasty.
I hope that the Italian Kitchen Mysteries portray the Jersey shore that I love—a place with a long and proud history, beautiful beaches, miles of boardwalk fun, and of course, good Italian food!
About the book: Victoria Rienzi came home to the Jersey Shore to write a new book, learn the family restaurant business, and practice the fine art of Italian cooking. But when delicious dishes are paired with murder, Vic has a little too much on her plate.
When Vic asked her nonna for more responsibility in the kitchen, she didn’t mean forming a thousand tiny meatballs by hand for the family’s famous wedding soup. The dish is to be served at the reception for a close family friend at the exclusive Belmont Country Club. And once there Vic has to deal with a demanding bridezilla and clashes in the kitchen—between the staff and servers, between two egocentric head chefs, and between the country club president and well everyone.
The wedding comes off without a hitch—until the body of the club’s president is found on the beach below a high seawall. Now Vic will need to use her noodle to find out who pushed whom too far before she’s the one who lands in the soup!