Thursday, October 28, 2021

Book Review: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder by Maria DiRico (Catering Hall Mysteries #3)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Characters, plot, Christmas spirit, laughs
Cons: Climax is a bit much
The Bottom Line:
A long-lost brother
Family secrets appear
Fun Christmas entry

Enjoy Christmas with The Family

One of the most unique premises for a cozy series in recent years has been Maria DiRico’s Catering Hall Mysteries.  The series is set in Astoria, Queens, and some of the supporting players are in the mob.  And yet, it works as a cozy mystery, as It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder demonstrates.

It’s December, and the catering hall that Mia Carina helps run is busy with events all month long, including an elaborate first birthday party and a drama filled sweet sixteen party.  However, her world shifts when her personal life begins to create drama.  For starters, her estranged mother is back in town, and Mia can’t figure out what she wants.

However, it’s her connection to the Boldano family that really puts a damper on her Christmas spirit.  Someone has come forward claiming that he is Jamie’s long-lost brother.  The problem is, Jamie didn’t know he was adopted.  Jamie is one of Mia’s best friends, so she does her best to help out, although the revelations throw Jamie off and make him start acting funny.  Then a dead body turns up in the neighborhood where Mia lives, and things go from bad to worse.  Can she figure out what is going on?

My reference to the Boldano family above should have really been Family.  While they’ve been in the background in the earlier books, this mob family steps into the foreground much more with this book.  Even so, since the emphasis is on what is going on with Jamie, this is still definitely a cozy mystery.

It also helps that all the characters are real.  We are focused on how what is going on around them impacts them and not on their life of crime.  If they are doing other things that aren’t cozy, we aren’t hearing about it.  This is Mia’s world, and, as a result, we get to know the characters as people.  I appreciated that and found it easy to cheer for the characters to get their happy endings.

As you might have guessed from my plot teaser, there are several sub-plots in addition to the main mystery, which keeps the story hopping.  My interest never waned as I was reading because something was always happening somewhere.  I did feel the climax didn’t quite work like it was supposed to.  Yes, it did answer all of our questions, but it just felt a bit much.

Yes, this is a Christmas book, and there is plenty of Christmas spirit to go around.  I haven’t mentioned yet, but a delightful sub-plot involved the over the top decorations in Mia’s neighborhood.  There is plenty of humor in the book as well, and a lot of it comes from this particular sub-plot.

At the end of the book, we’ve got seven new recipes inspired by the food the characters eat in the book as well as some event tips.

This is a fun mystery that will put fans of the series in the Christmas spirit.  If you are looking for a Christmas cozy with a dash of something different, you definitely need to check out It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.


  1. Sounds like a great December read. I haven't read any in this series yet, but it sounds like a fun one, especially with the mob connection.

  2. I love her series under her Ellen Byron name but have yet to read this series. It does sound fun and I like the mix of Christmas and the mob. I need to give this series a try.

  3. I enjoy this series but was waiting to buy this one. May have to move it up before the November budget it completely gone. (Yes, I know it is the end of Oct. but it is soooo hard to stick to a budget this time of year.) Thanks for tempting me!


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