Here Comes the Body
By Maria DiRico
A Catering Hall Mystery #1
After her philandering husband’s boat went down, newly single Mia Carina went back to Astoria, the bustling Queens neighborhood of her youth. Living with her Nonna and her oversized cat, Doorstop, she’s got a whole new life—including some amateur sleuthing...
Mia is starting work at Belle View, her father’s catering hall, a popular spot for weddings, office parties, and more—despite the planes that occasionally roar overhead on their way to LaGuardia and rattle the crystal chandelier. Soon she’s planning a bachelor party for a less-than-gentlemanly groom. But it goes awry when the gigantic cake is wheeled in and a deadly surprise is revealed...
Since some of her family’s associates are on the shady side, the NYPD wastes no time in casting suspicion on Mia’s father. Now, Mia’s going to have to use all her street smarts to keep him out of Rikers Island...
Italian recipes included!
It is an honor to review Here Comes the Body by Maria DiRico because reading it was pure pleasure. Mystery, humor, character depth, and vivid setting are all woven together in this story which flows evenly across the page. DiRico is actually the author of a Cajun mystery series under the name of Ellen Byron, which I also enjoy, so I was eager to read her new catering hall series. I was caught up from the first page and, although eager to see how things resolved, enjoyed the characters so much that I hated to reach the conclusion.
Mia leaves Florida and its unpleasant baggage behind, returning to her Queens neighborhood to help run her father’s catering business. Mystery surrounds her, both past and present … suspicion remains because her husband’s body was never found, and now her father is a person of interest in the murder of a stripper at a bachelor party. There’s humor, an adorable cat (appropriately named Doorstop), and even an emotional tug over the loss of her beloved parakeet while traveling home, Pizzazz. The Queens setting is vividly conveyed and has an authentic feel, becoming a key part of the story.
One strength of this story is Mia’s endearing, quirky family, who provide interesting secondary themes. Her father may be running a legit business, but their mob connections still come in handy at times. There’s visits with Mia’s brother, Posi, in a minimum-security prison. But best of all is Mia’s grandmother, Elisabetta. I loved Elisabetta and her “Army” of 80-something friends in the Queens neighborhood, who are slowly beginning to sell out as an unscrupulous real estate agent uses her wiles to convince them they no longer need to live alone.
The mystery itself is skillfully interwoven amidst these themes and delightful Queens setting, reminding us that there is much more to NYC than Manhattan. Here Comes the Body reaches a very satisfying conclusion and I hope for many more stories in this new series.
I received a copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
Maria DiRico was born in Queens, New York, and raised in Queens and Westchester County. She is a first-generation Italian-American on her mother’s side. On her father’s side, her grandfather was a low-level Jewish mobster who disappeared in 1933 under mysterious circumstances. She also writes the award-winning, bestselling Cajun Country Mystery series under the name Ellen Byron.