IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE MURDER, the third book in the Catering Hall Mystery series by Maria DiRico (aka Ellen Byron), has all the ingredients for a laugh-out-loud Christmas cozy mystery! Over-the-top neighbor Christmas decorations feud – check. Mobsters trying to go straight – check. Ridiculously extravagant parties – check. Dead body in Santa’s workshop – check! And so, so much more that it was impossible to put the book down. With her witty humor, Ms. DiRico pens a multi-faceted story with engaging characters. The protagonist, Mia Carina, is a mobster’s daughter trying to keep her dad on the straight and narrow. As if that’s not enough of a plotline, there’s someone claiming to be a mobster’s son’s half-brother; another mobster’s son who’s trying to leave the business and work in Mia’s catering hall; and Mia’s jailbird brother. If it sounds like a lot is going on, there is, yet Ms. DiRico expertly keeps all the plotlines straight (and more importantly entertaining) and not once did I feel like I was lost.
While it might seem that the murder mystery itself could get lost amongst all the subplots, it doesn’t. The author knows how to write a tight and well-paced plot and the seemingly random subplots weave into the murder as the story progresses. There are twists, turns, and laughs galore and instead of playing armchair detective, I sat back and enjoyed the ride. If you’d rather try to spot the killer as you read, there are plenty of clues and suspects to keep you on your toes. With a surprising reveal (or two), the story wraps up with a promise of future happiness for Mia. I, for one, can’t wait to see what’s coming next!
Running a catering hall, there are all sorts of delicious dishes and desserts coming from the Belle View kitchen. Ms. DiRico includes several Italian recipes at the back of the book, including one for Rummy Tiramisu! I really liked that this no-bake dessert can be made the day before serving, which frees the cook up on the day of the event for last minute preparations. Rich and creamy and oh so delightful, this spirited dish will add a festive touch to your holiday dessert table!
Astoria, Queens, is decorated within an inch of its life for the Christmas season, and Mia Carina is juggling her job at the Belle View catering hall with a case of murder . . .
Mia’s busy with a full schedule of events at the family business—among them an over-the-top Nativity-themed first birthday party and a Sweet Sixteen for a teen drama queen. But her personal life is even more challenging. Her estranged mother has returned—and her lifelong friend Jamie has discovered a shocking secret about his past. He’s so angry that he starts hanging out with Lorenzo, who claims to be his long-lost brother—even after it becomes clear that Lorenzo’s story is as fake as a plastic Christmas tree.
Then a body turns up among the elves in a Santa’s-workshop lawn display, and amateur sleuth Mia has a buffet of suspects to choose from. Amid the holiday celebrations, she intends to find out who’s the guilty party . . .
A special thanks to Maria DiRico for providing one lucky winner with a print copy of IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE MURDER. Giveaway is limited to U.S. residents. Contest ends November 3, 2021 at 11:59 pm PST. Please use the Rafflecopter box located below to enter. The winner will be announced on this page and on Cinnamon & Sugar’s Facebook page, as well as notified by email (so check your spam folder!)
Author Ellen Byron's note: I am that rare person who is not a fan of coffee. To put it mildly. Tiramisu is about the only thing coffee-flavored I’ll even take a bite of. Since coffee is such an important ingredient in this delicious dessert, my personal attempt not to let it overwhelm the favor is to up the amount of rum in this recipe. If you prefer, you can use more coffee and less rum.
This recipe calls for the tiramisu to be chilled overnight or for at least six hours.
Serves 8-12. Or even 16! It’s rich.
- 6 eggs, separated into yolks and whites**
- 1/2 cup white sugar, divided in to two 1/4 cups
- 1 lb. mascarpone cheese
- 1 cup black coffee
- 3/4 cup rum
- 48 ladyfinger cookies (sturdier ones if possible)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup ground or shaved semi-sweet chocolate
Beat the egg yolks and a 1/4 cup sugar together on medium-high speed until they are creamy. Add the mascarpone cheese and beat on medium-high speed until so well-combined the mixture is smooth. Transfer to a large bowl and wash out the first bowl.
In the clean bowl, beat the whipped cream on heavy speed until soft peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone-yoke mixture. Wash out the bowl again.
In the clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, then whisk in the second ¼ cup of sugar. Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the other mixture until all the ingredients are well-combined.
Combine the coffee and rum in a wide, shallow bowl. Quickly dip the ladyfingers in the liquid one at time – quickly, because you do not want to soak them. They’ll disintegrate, especially if they’re the small, light kind. Line the ladyfingers in a single layer at the bottom of a 13” by 9” baking dish. Spread half the mascarpone mixture evenly over the lady fingers. Sprinkle half the cocoa powder and ground chocolate over this layer, and then repeat: another layer of dipped ladyfingers, evenly covered with the remaining mascarpone mixture, and sprinkled with the rest of the cocoa powder and chocolate.
Cover the dish and refrigerate overnight or for at least six hours.
**Eating unpasteurized raw or undercooked eggs poses a health risk to everyone, but especially to the elderly, young children under age 4, pregnant women and other highly susceptible individuals with compromised immune systems.
If you can't find pasteurized eggs at the store, you can pasteurize them at home using the following method:
Place large eggs in a saucepan and fill with enough water to completely cover them. Over medium-low heat, bring the water temperature to 140 degrees (F). A digital thermometer is the most accurate way to monitor. Maintain the water temperature at 140 degrees for 3 minutes, reducing the heat on the stove if necessary. Immediately remove eggs from the hot water and submerge in a bowl of ice cold water. Store in the refrigerator if not using immediately.
Please use your discretion when eating undercooked items.
Recipe can be halved. Use a 9" by 9" baking dish.
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I was provided with an advance copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
My family used to go drive around at look at the light displays that people would put up around the holidays. But it has been years since we did that. Mostly because we weren’t aware of anywhere that did it enough to be worth going and looking. If I knew where there were a bunch of people who did the displays, I’d be doing my best to go see them.
I drive around our area to find them. I’ve stumbled on some great ones!
“Do you tour neighborhoods that have extravagant holiday light displays?” No, I would probably avoid that.
Touring neighborhoods that are all decorated for Christmas is one of the things I enjoy about the season.
I absolutely visit neighborhoods to see the light displays! My husband and I love to get some hot cocoa, crank up the Christmas tunes, and drive around our small town looking at lights. It’s one of the best parts of the year. A little singing, a little sipping, and a whole lot of laughing together over the delight of lights! I cannot wait for Christmas!
A wonderful sounding book. Anything that includes gangsters, Christmas, and dessert count me in! Unfortunately, I am highly allergic to coffee (not kidding) so I won’t be making this but I’ve always wanted to try Tiramisu. I wonder if you could substitute the coffee for something else, like cocoa maybe? A lovely giveaway for sure!
Sarah, I actually don’t like coffee, believe it or not. Tiramisu is the only place I can stand it. But I truly believe you can make the recipe without it. And it will still be delicious!
No I live in a apartment
Yes. We sometimes tour neighborhoods that have extravagant holiday light displays.
When I lived down in Houston my family and I would always go touring through neighborhoods to see the Christmas decorations.
Years ago we use to get in the car and go to certain neighborhoods especially to see the holiday lights and displays. However, there doesn’t seem to be large areas of collective decorating any more so it’s more of a hit and miss to see them. As we have gotten older, we don’t get out as much later in the evenings either. I do enjoy seeing the decorations and see how people choose to decorate when we get the chance to though.
Can’t wait for the opportunity to read “Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder”! Fabulous author, wonderful sounding book which I know will be a joy to read and a great cover. You can’t go wrong with a combination like that!
Kay, thanks so much!
Yes, both as a kid and with our own kids. It us fun to see people’s creativity!
We live in the country so no but some in nearby towns do.
I remembermy parents taking us to look at lights when I was a kid. The best though is right in my own town. There’s a couple that puts up huge displays for every holiday. You can see the glow of the lights for miles.
Our neighborhood is very festive – lots of lights and inflatable decorations. It’s always fun taking walks around the neighborhood during the holiday season to see everyone’s decorations ~
Yes I love to see all the houses fixed up f oil r Halloween. Thanks for your great generosity.
I misspelled my name up above its Linda May.
We sometimes get out and about to see the Christmas lights! Several years ago, there was one house in our area that REALLY did it up big. I don’t know if the owners moved, though, because we haven’t seen that display for a while.
There is a house nearby that has their Christmas display synced to music on a radio station. It is awesome. They really go all out with their display. They even have a Facebook page.
Yes when my 3 kids were growing up that was one of the regular things we would do it go see all the houses with lights. Then one year I thought wow I can do that and I did and we won #300.00 and 2 nd place from a contest from all the pics of houses with this one brand of lights and I was shocked. We had a steady stream of cars going to our house and driving very slow so i had them on a timer so that noone would miss it. Now living in Iowa hubby and I do that and we love it . It helps get in the holiday mood when your family is 2,000 miles away.
Yes, I like to drive around and look at the Christmas lights and decorations although I prefer more moderate displays to the over-the-top ones. I just love the festivity of the cheery lights at such a dark time of the year.
I do like to drive through neighborhoods that have Christmas lights/decorations up. I relly enjoy all the lights!
I try to go touring Christmas lights but it doesn’t always happen! Thanks for the chance!
Our neighborhood is pretty subdues with decorations.
But there was a neighborhood at the NY/NJ border that was so famous for their decorations that they had to have local police monitor the traffic!
Hi, yes, I usually go with our daughter, son in law and my 2 grandchildren that live in our same town. There is a house here in town that keeps on adding beautiful Christmas scenes on their front yard, it looks beautiful!
We love Christmas light displays and there are many in our town. We do go see them every year.
I have in the past.
Yes we drive through all neighborhoods to look at Christmas lights. We make a cup of hot chocolate and drive around looking at lights
It has become a Christmas tradition..
Yes, we do tour some of the neighborhoods to check out the decorations for Christmas.
Tummy Tiramisu- yours looks fabulous.
Not to sure mine will look like this 🙂 Will try
We live in the South, coming from The North. So we love Snow⛄ light’s everything Christmas?.
Very few Christmas lights as we do our drives. But I think this year there will be more. Everyone has Halloween up? maybe. Your book looks fantastic.
Wonderful cover. CONGRATULATIONS and much success
We do drive through neighborhoods to look at Christmas lights.
I like to drive around look at the decorated neighborhoods but don’t also have anyone now to enjoy it with. I also like to go to light displays.
I have visited some in the past, but haven’t recently.
I love going around looking at Christmas lights. Especially when it snows, because the lights look more beautiful.
Another amazing recreation of my recipe, thanks to the brilliant Kim!!
As always, it’s a huge honor to host you and your delectable recipes on my blog! Thanks for the opportunity to help you celebrate!
not my close neighbors but several blocks up there is a place that used to have a huge extravagancy. the house has been sold though so it isn’t there anymore.
We love driving to other neighborhoods to enjoy the xmas lights!
I used to drive my Mom and husband around looking at the Christmas lights. We have not done that in a few years. Thank you for the opportunity. I love the cover of the book.
When I was a kid, we used to drive through tons of other neighborhoods to look at their holiday lights and decorations. There was one in particular that went to extremes every year with lights, decorations and blasting music. Thank you for the giveaway! Great series!
Yes when my Dad was alive we would drive around the neighborhood and look at the Christmas lights. I have not done it though since he passed, it’s just not the same without him.
When I was a child,we would go downtown to all the amazing displays in the department store windows. They were great but a lot of the stores are gone and it doesn’t happen anymore. We will drive through neighborhoods that have interesting light displays. My kids loved it !I know I would that tiramisu, and plan on trying it!?
We used to, but not so much now that everyone is older.
Yes, I enjoy looking at Christmas lights!
Sometimes we drive different ways going places to see the decorations.
Yes, we drive around and look at the lights each year! I love it!!! Thank you for the wonderful giveaway and recipe!
We drive around each and look at the decorations! I absolutely love it! Thank you for your book giveaway and recipe.?
We ride around and look at the pretty lights.
Yes! We would love to drive around to see the Christmas lights in our town. We would enjoy driving through other towns as we traveled for various sports activities as well. It was so much fun!!
Yes, yes, yes!
Yes. It’s always fun to go and see all the Chtistmas displays.
Not much anymore. Thank you for a chance to win a Print copy of It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder
We still enjoy riding around and looking at the holiday displays.
Yes, we look forward to touring neighborhoods with Christmas lights and decorations every year! It’s one of our holiday traditions with family and the warmth and glow of the lights at night really lets us feel the spirit of Christmas and appreciate the labors of love people will go through to spread it.
I love to tour areas with Christmas lights and decorations! Hoping to see an area new to us this year- a small town nearby – but the traffic is notoriously bad during the cities lights, We are trying to figure out the best time to visit.
I enjoy driving thru town to see the Christmas displays
No, it’s mostly retired people and only a few put up lights.