Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Book Review: Basil Instinct by Shelley Costa (Miracolo Mysteries #2)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Laughs, characters, and fun story
Cons: A few too many characters, although important ones are easy to keep straight
The Bottom Line:
Mixed up in murder
With secret society
Means danger and fun

Secrets and a Secret Society

Not too long after I read the first Miracolo Mystery, the author offered  an early copy of the second one free for review.  Never being one to pass up a free copy of a book I planned to buy, I accepted.  Turns out, I liked Basil Instinct even more than the first.

The series centers around the Italian restaurant Miracolo and the family that runs it.  Our guide to this world is Eve Angelotta, the third generation to work there.  Still leading the pack is her Nonna (Grandma to the rest of us), Maria Pia.  Maria still shows up every day even though she turned the reigns of head chef over to Eve.  However, that is just the tip of the ice burg when it comes to family involvement since Eve works with several cousins and even her father's ex-girlfriend.

To Eve, it was a normal Monday, but her world was about to be turned completely upside down.  Nonna gets an invitation from Belfiere, a secret society of highly skilled female chefs.  Membership in the society is completely secret and involves a tattoo, an initiation meal, and who knows what else.  Based on what Eve and her cousin Landon find, it might even mean death.

However, Nonna is thrilled as she begins to prepare dinner for her 50 new sisters.  While Eve and Landon are trying to figure out how to keep her safe, the unthinkable happens.  Will Nonna's day go off without a hitch?  What is this society really all about?

Do not misunderstand what I am about to say - this book is a mystery.  And for the climax, Eve figures out who done it.  However, the plot involves more than mystery.  I'll just leave it at that.  I loved every second of it and always found myself turning the pages to find out just what would happen next.

My complaint from the first book still rings true.  There are just too many characters to keep everyone and their place in the story straight.  Fortunately, those who are important to the story stand out a bit more from those who are just supporting characters, and I had an easier time placing the relationships between everyone here than I did the first time around.  The characters we do get to know, both returning and new, are well developed and do like them.

What I either missed or didn't remember from the first book was the comedy.  I started laughing at Eve's narration on page one and found myself laughing the entire rest of the book.  There is one section in particular that reaches the level of a farce, and absolutely loved it!  I did have to wonder why Eve didn't get into more trouble with the police for her antics here, but I was enjoying myself too much to care too much.

And, being a culinary mystery, there is a recipe in the back of the book.  If you love Italian food (and who doesn't), it will make your mouth water.

So get ready for a fun mystery as you return to Miracolo.  This group of family and friends will entertain you from start to finish in Basil Instinct.  I'm already looking forward to a return visit very soon.

NOTE: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


  1. Hopping over from the Foodies Reading Challenge. This sounds fun! I like humor in a cozy mystery and Italian food is a favorite!

    Joy's Book Blog

    1. This sounds like it would be right up your ally in that case. I hope you enjoy it.