Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Book Review: Toasting Up Trouble by Linda Wiken (Dinner Club Mysteries #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Good mystery and fun characters
Cons: Gets off to a bit of a slow start
The Bottom Line:
Caterer is dead
And J.J. is prime suspect
In cozy debut

Toasting a New Series

As much as I talk about not needing any new series to follow, it is hard to resist getting in just as a series is starting, which is why I picked up Toasting Up Trouble.  The idea of a dinner club sounds like fun (at least one paper since I’m not much of a cook), and I just couldn’t resist that.

J.J. Tanner is an event planner by day and a burgeoning foodie by night.  She’s recently joined a local group of friends who take turns hosting dinners where everyone brings a dish from one particular cookbook.

But it’s her event planner job that brings her into contact with Antonio Marcotti, the hotshot chef of the local Italian restaurant.  Marcotti has agreed to a last minute catering gig for an Italian themed birthday party that J.J. is planning.  However, his less than scrupulous tactics lead to a fight between the two as the party is winding down.  When J.J. returns the next morning, the police are there because Marcotti is dead.  As the last person to see Marcotti alive, J.J. finds herself a suspect.  When the police begin to expand their list of suspects, they look at Evan, a good friend and fellow member of the Dinner Club.  Can J.J. find the killer before she or Evan wind up in jail?

I must admit, the book started a little slowly.  We are introduced to J.J. and her life as well as meeting the victim and a few of the potential suspects before the murder takes place.  Once it does, however, the book picks up as J.J. begins to focus on clearing herself and her friends.  There are several viable suspects, and I was certain I knew who it was only to turn out to be wrong.

The characters grew on me as well.  J.J. is a great lead character, and the friends in her life are all fun.  While I didn’t feel like we got to know all the member of the Dinner Club, we did get to know a couple of them reasonably well.  Besides, giving them all equal page time would have slowed things down, and we can get to know them better in future books, right?  Outside of the series regular characters, we have the suspects.  For a suspect to be viable in my book, they have to be well developed, and that was certainly the case here.

And, of course, we get three recipes.  With Italian being the unofficial theme of the book, it’s no surprise to see an antipasto appetizer.  We also get spaghetti with chicken, broccoli, and sweet red pepper, and for dessert, roasted pears.

The setting for the book is a small town in Vermont.  While I haven’t spent too much time in the state, the description of the location definitely makes me want to go back for a visit.  It sounds beautiful!

Toasting Up Trouble gets this new series off to a fun start.  If you are looking for a new culinary cozy series, be sure to give it a try.

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


Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy of this book to give away.  Because it is a physical book, the contest is limited to residence of the US.

Just leave me a comment with your e-mail address so I can get in touch with you if you win.  I will pick the winner next Tuesday, July 12th, so please leave your comment before 12:01AM Pacific Time on 7/12.  You will have until midnight on 7/14 to get back to me, or I will choose a new winner on 7/15.


  1. Hi Mark! Your review makes me want to read. I like the idea of a dinner club.

  2. As always, an informative & entertaining review. Thanks for the chance to win this new series start by a favorite author. doward1952@yahoo.com

  3. Sounds interesting. hannah03@bellsouth.net

  4. Have added this to my TBR list and can't wait to read it.

    1. Oops my email address is brichardson0056@yahoo.com

  5. Thanks, Mark, for not only the giveaway, but your review. As always, you've done a great job!

  6. It is hard to resist the siren song of a 'first in a series', isn't it! Thanks for the chance to win, enjoyed the review, can't wait to read it!

  7. Great teview. Can't wait to read. "Toasting Up Trouble " sounds like an amazing read.

  8. Great teview. Can't wait to read. "Toasting Up Trouble " sounds like an amazing read.

  9. Thanks for your insightful review; it sounds like a great new series.. Thanks for the chance to win..


  10. This sounds like a great read...thank you for the review and the contest.
    Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com

  11. Toasting Up Trouble sounds great. Thank you for introducing me to Linda Wiken's writing.

  12. This sounds like a great book, thanks for the contest stoeser1@pie.midco.net

  13. Great review! I've been hearing nothing but good things about this new series and can't wait to try it out for myself! Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

    jdzchaoticktittie (at) yahoo (dot) com

    1. Whoops! Looks like I misspelled my email.

      jdzchaotickittie (at) yahoo (dot) com

  14. Sounds like a great book. Thank you for the review and the chance to win.


  15. I missed the giveaway but the book sounds like fun.


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