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Four moon gifAvon Books (Paperback), ISBN: 0-06-103086-6
Angie Amalfi cooks again -- and am I ever glad! Done to a turn, her latest foray into mystery, mayhem, and murder titillates the senses, provides a satisfying read and arouses a hunger for yet another book in this great series.

Book: Joanne Pence, To Catch a CookHomicide detective Paavo Smith gives Angie his mother's antique brooch (his only memento of the woman who deserted him when he was four). Angie takes the keepsake to a jeweler for repairs, and discovers it is Russian and very, very valuable. But the costly doodad vanishes, the jeweler turns up murdered, someone ransacks both Angie's and Paavo's dwellings, and Paavo's surrogate father suffers a dangerous wound. What on earth is going on? Angie intends to find out and still bring her latest employment scheme to fruition.

If you never read one of Pence's Angie Amalfi mysteries, I should explain that gourmet chef and chronically unemployed Angie lives on a neverending lookout for a new and different role in the cooking community. Her efforts to this end usually lead to hilarious disasters. To Catch a Cook adds new defeats to Angie's long list of "great ideas gone wrong." The book also added new chuckles to my own laugh list at Angie debacles -- expect to hoot out loud, especially at the garbage can scene.

Book: Joanne Pence, Too Many CooksStill feeling the effects of his mother's abandonment, Paavo finds answers to questions too long ignored. And with the answers come tales of old intrigues, betrayals, and FBI deceptions which lead to complications, death and the Russian Mafia (not necessarily in that order).

A beautiful soufflé, elegantly conceived and presented with a master's touch, the plot never falls flat. Equally well drawn and executed (well, no one suffers literal execution) the flawed but lovable characters never fail to delight. I look forward to the next concoction of murderous tidbits cooked up by the incredible Pence.

Note: My husband didn't read the book, but he hungrily anticipates Pence's next -- especially if it boasts another great recipe like Angie's Amaretto-Pecan Bread Pudding, his latest favorite dessert.

Patricia L. White

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