Check It Out: Culinary mysteries served up well done

The holiday season is upon us and with it comes visits with family and friends, and plenty of tasty food to eat at each gathering. Here are some who-done-it morsels full of flavor, fun and mystery.

Hanna Denton has some big shoes to fill when she moves back home to take over her grandma’s pie shop. The shop, the Upper Crust, has been known to make some of the best pies in the area. While Hanna’s busy trying to perfect Grannie’s recipes, Grannie is living the life in a swanky retirement community. But Grannie finds herself in hot water when her nemesis dies after eating a slice of pie. Hanna suddenly finds herself juggling the shop, baking and trying to clear sweet Grannie’s name in Carol Culver’s “A Good Day to Pie.”

Robin Allen’s debut novel, “If You Can’t Stand the Heat,” draws Poppy Markham back into the family business. Poppy grew up working at her father’s restaurant before leaving to become a public health inspector, but she decides to return and lend a hand when the restaurant invites Michelin-rated chef Évariste Bontecou to its grand reopening celebration. Poppy finds the renowned chef murdered the night of the event, and the murder weapon belonged to Poppy’s stepsister. It’s up to Poppy to track down the true killer even if she’s not her stepsister’s biggest fan.

Order up a pizza pie in “A Slice of Murder” by Chris Cavender. The first in this cozy mystery series introduces Eleanor Swift, owner of A Slice of Delight Pizzeria. On a late winter night Eleanor makes a personal pizza delivery to one of her regular customers, Richard Olsen. Unfortunately when she arrives, Richard is dead on the floor with a kitchen knife in his chest. Eleanor and her sister get to work baking pizzas and searching for the killer.

Head overseas with Parisian police detective, Capucine LeTellier in “The Grave Gourmet” by Alexander Campion. Capucine’s specialty is white-collar crimes, but she’s called in when the president of an automotive company is found murdered at a famed restaurant. The case is a match for Capucine who has an inside track with her husband, a well-connected food critic. The mix of a culinary mystery set in Paris, combined with espionage, and political scandal makes this an appetizing combination.

Continue abroad with Melbourne baker Corinna Chapman in Kerry Greenwood’s “Earthly Delights.” Corinna’s bakery is housed on the ground floor of an apartment building that’s home to an eccentric cast of characters. She’s comfortable with her situation and location until someone ends up dead outside her bakery and she starts receiving threatening letters. A unique combination of personalities makes this offbeat mystery an original recipe.

Take a break this season and serve up a second helping of delight with these series starters. Check out any of these and the subsequent books at the Newport Beach Public Library.

CHECK IT OUT is written by the staff of the Newport Beach Public Library. All titles may be reserved from home or office computers by accessing the catalog at For more information on the Central Library or any of the branches, contact the Newport Beach Public Library at (949) 717-3800, option 2.