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American chef Nell Valenti's high hopes for a successful Tuscan farm-to-table cooking school are in danger of withering on the vine in this delectable cozy mystery. Nell Valenti is settling into her role of transforming the Villa Orlandini into a superb farm-to-table cooking school, and the time has finally come for a full taste test run. But when Chef Orlandini prepares to American chef Nell Valenti's high hopes for a successful Tuscan farm-to-table cooking school are in danger of withering on the vine in this delectable cozy mystery. Nell Valenti is settling into her role of transforming the Villa Orlandini into a superb farm-to-table cooking school, and the time has finally come for a full taste test run. But when Chef Orlandini prepares to reveal his top secret marinara recipe for the first time to a group of American gastro-tourists, Nell realizes she might have bitten off more than she can chew. Nell begins to suspect that one of the tourists is actually a private detective sent to spy on her by her overprotective father, and the fussy foodies are noisy and disrespectful from the very start of the Marinara Mysteriosa workshop. Even worse, when one visitor appears to be poisoned by the famous marinara recipe, Nell will have to work fast to uncover a killer and keep a lid on bad press before her fresh start is spoiled for good.


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American chef Nell Valenti's high hopes for a successful Tuscan farm-to-table cooking school are in danger of withering on the vine in this delectable cozy mystery. Nell Valenti is settling into her role of transforming the Villa Orlandini into a superb farm-to-table cooking school, and the time has finally come for a full taste test run. But when Chef Orlandini prepares to American chef Nell Valenti's high hopes for a successful Tuscan farm-to-table cooking school are in danger of withering on the vine in this delectable cozy mystery. Nell Valenti is settling into her role of transforming the Villa Orlandini into a superb farm-to-table cooking school, and the time has finally come for a full taste test run. But when Chef Orlandini prepares to reveal his top secret marinara recipe for the first time to a group of American gastro-tourists, Nell realizes she might have bitten off more than she can chew. Nell begins to suspect that one of the tourists is actually a private detective sent to spy on her by her overprotective father, and the fussy foodies are noisy and disrespectful from the very start of the Marinara Mysteriosa workshop. Even worse, when one visitor appears to be poisoned by the famous marinara recipe, Nell will have to work fast to uncover a killer and keep a lid on bad press before her fresh start is spoiled for good.

30 review for Crime of the Ancient Marinara

  1. 4 out of 5

    Laur (reviews on hold)

    Smart, witty, very Italian, humorous, and loads of fun! The story transports the reader to a picturesque, charming Tuscan countryside, with a group of 5 quirky Americans, enrolled in a brand new renovated Italian cooking school ,with the hope of discovering a very secret, special recipe, that has been said to be guarded in a vault. The problem is, one of these American’s isn’t coming home alive. The killer is among them. It’s up to Nell Valenti, the one who has developed world renowned cooking s Smart, witty, very Italian, humorous, and loads of fun! The story transports the reader to a picturesque, charming Tuscan countryside, with a group of 5 quirky Americans, enrolled in a brand new renovated Italian cooking school ,with the hope of discovering a very secret, special recipe, that has been said to be guarded in a vault. The problem is, one of these American’s isn’t coming home alive. The killer is among them. It’s up to Nell Valenti, the one who has developed world renowned cooking schools (and who is overseeing this brand new one) to solve this murder mystery, and to save an innocent person, as well as her own sanity and reputation. A must read for all lovers of cozy’s and everything Italian. My thanks to NetGalley and Berkley for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mark Baker

    After a month of hard work, Nell Valenti is ready to oversee the opening of Villa Orlandini as a cooking school lead by the famous Chef Orlandini. In fact, the first group of Americans are arriving at the Tuscany villa in just a couple of days. Nell is hoping that the worst of her problems will be Chef’s broken arm, a bocce ball accident. But then the guests arrive, and they aren’t what Nell is expecting. They seem to be a difficult lot. When one of them is poisoned by Chef’s famous marinara, Ne After a month of hard work, Nell Valenti is ready to oversee the opening of Villa Orlandini as a cooking school lead by the famous Chef Orlandini. In fact, the first group of Americans are arriving at the Tuscany villa in just a couple of days. Nell is hoping that the worst of her problems will be Chef’s broken arm, a bocce ball accident. But then the guests arrive, and they aren’t what Nell is expecting. They seem to be a difficult lot. When one of them is poisoned by Chef’s famous marinara, Nell realizes she has real trouble on her hands. Can she figure out what is going on? While I did struggle with some things in the first book in the series, I still enjoyed it. Unfortunately, those same issues are present here. The most prominent is Nell’s struggle with Italian. While we always know what is going on, it is presented in such a way that it keeps us out of the story. It’s a shame because I do like the returning characters, and the suspects grow as the story progresses. The mystery takes a while to truly get going, although we are meeting suspects. It’s a shame the pacing isn’t better since there is a good mystery buried in the book. There was a major editing error, as well, that resulted in a character being in two places at once. The book left me craving Italian food, so the recipes at the end are a nice bonus. The first book had its fans, and they will enjoy this entry as well. But if you struggled with the first one, you’ll struggle with this one. NOTE: I received an ARC of this book. Read my full review at Carstairs Considers.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    CRIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINARA is the second book in Stephanie Cole’s Tuscan Cooking School Mystery series. After enjoying the first book of the series, I was very much looking forward to this one. In this book, Nell has begin to settle down and she has gotten a better grip on things. Or so she thinks. When things start happening around her, I found that the book started to pick up a bit more. That being said, it was a little slow in the beginning, but thankfully, it does get a bit better. Hone CRIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINARA is the second book in Stephanie Cole’s Tuscan Cooking School Mystery series. After enjoying the first book of the series, I was very much looking forward to this one. In this book, Nell has begin to settle down and she has gotten a better grip on things. Or so she thinks. When things start happening around her, I found that the book started to pick up a bit more. That being said, it was a little slow in the beginning, but thankfully, it does get a bit better. Honestly, I was expecting a little bit more in terms of the mystery. However, I didn’t think it was terrible either. I guess it could be the fact that I enjoyed the first book so much that my expectations were higher. Nevertheless, I look forward to Cole’s second book and would recommend this to anyone who enjoys culinary mystery books!

  4. 4 out of 5

    LORI (Dollycas) CASWELL

    Dollycas’s Thoughts Plans are coming together at Villa Orlandini to open the farm-to-table cooking school. Their first weeklong class will bring a group of gastro-tourists from America to learn all about making marinara sauce and will include Chef Orlandini revealing his mystery ingredient in his famous marinara recipe. They hit a few bumps in the road with their plans as they work through the logistics of keeping their guests involved and happy. Nell has an inkling that one member of the group i Dollycas’s Thoughts Plans are coming together at Villa Orlandini to open the farm-to-table cooking school. Their first weeklong class will bring a group of gastro-tourists from America to learn all about making marinara sauce and will include Chef Orlandini revealing his mystery ingredient in his famous marinara recipe. They hit a few bumps in the road with their plans as they work through the logistics of keeping their guests involved and happy. Nell has an inkling that one member of the group is a private detective sent by her father. Another member of the group is rude and is only there because his wife dragged him along. She is excited to be there and is determined not to let her husband ruin her trip. The rest of the group all have their flaws and are pretty disrespectful. When one of the group is rushed to the hospital and dies Nell realizes there is a killer in their midst. A murder is bad, but someone dying the first week they are open could seal the fate of the school forever. Nell knows she needs to find the killer and save the school but she could end up the killer’s next victim if she isn’t careful. All the people we met at Villa Orlandini in the first book are back. Nell and Pete are getting closer. Chef O. is excited to teach but quickly becomes infatuated with one of his new students which causes some turmoil in the kitchen. The new characters all seem to have something to hide. The murder happens later in the story but the victim was not a surprise. I wanted to reach into the book and kill him myself. The language was still of bit of a problem but Nell is learning more Italian and is finding ways to communicate with people at the villa. It was still necessary to bring in a translator after the murder and Pete translated other times. The translations for us readers still messed with the flow of the story for me. The murder mystery was very well-plotted and I was surprised with all the connections that were revealed. That being said I had a certain character in my sights almost immediately after the murder because I quickly eliminated the other suspects. I just needed the motive to connect my thinking and that wasn’t revealed until the end. I was a little put off by Nell’s investigation this time. Her snooping and theories were a little over the top at times. I do enjoy Ms. Cole’s right style. She really knows how to set the scene and bring it to life, Every room at the villa was easily visualized. There was a huge flower delivery too and I could almost smell them from the descriptions. The author delivered up plenty of humor throughout the entire story. The Bari sisters are absolutely priceless. All the talk of marinara did tempt my tastebuds. Thankfully we eat Italian inspired food often around here. Crime of the Ancient Marinara was a nice little escape to Tuscany. The characters were entertaining and the mystery very interesting. The ending did leave me wanting to know what was going to happen next at Villa Orlandin, so I am looking forward to the next book in this series.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    I was going to give this a 3, but the end is really good. There were multiple secrets to uncover about the guests. I really liked those secrets that are uncovered. I liked the villa and Tuscany in general. All the marinara talk was really great too. I didn’t realize there could be so many types of marinara. The Bari sisters were awesome! They made me want to go listen to Billy Joel. The cooking, the setting, the side characters were all wonderful. My biggest complaint was Nell and sometimes Pete. I was going to give this a 3, but the end is really good. There were multiple secrets to uncover about the guests. I really liked those secrets that are uncovered. I liked the villa and Tuscany in general. All the marinara talk was really great too. I didn’t realize there could be so many types of marinara. The Bari sisters were awesome! They made me want to go listen to Billy Joel. The cooking, the setting, the side characters were all wonderful. My biggest complaint was Nell and sometimes Pete. Nell was a little too obsessed with how awful her parents were. She just kept talking about it without trying to heal and move on. There were also multiple times she got mad and was really petty and unprofessional. Pete seemed to be as childish as she was instead of talking to her like an adult. They redeemed themselves a little bit at the end and earned a star back. So the plot is great, but the main character isn’t my favorite. I received an e-book from NetGalley and Berkeley Publishing Group. This is my review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jeanie

    This delightful second in series is even better than the first! While I have never considered Tuscany a place I would want to see, the author’s descriptions make it sound appealing. Staying outside of the little village of Cortona has been good for Nell, a chef in her own right who now designs cooking schools. Nestled in this gorgeous setting is a former, 500-year-old convent that has been owned for over 40 years by the great Chef Claudio Orlandini. He developed his prima marinara sauce with a s This delightful second in series is even better than the first! While I have never considered Tuscany a place I would want to see, the author’s descriptions make it sound appealing. Staying outside of the little village of Cortona has been good for Nell, a chef in her own right who now designs cooking schools. Nestled in this gorgeous setting is a former, 500-year-old convent that has been owned for over 40 years by the great Chef Claudio Orlandini. He developed his prima marinara sauce with a secret ingredient, and for the first time in the decades since, says he might open his recipe vault and disclose the secrets at his very first class at Villa Orlandini. That first class of students is a group of five Americans that includes one married couple. Until renovations are complete, they can have small, cozy classes. The seventy-something chef is ready to make a fool of himself in front of one student, young enough to be his daughter. He set aside Annamaria, his sous chef of 40 years, and invites the young woman to take her place during the four-day intensive class. Among the first day classes is one that Annamaria teaches, regarding identifying mushrooms, including a very poisonous one that cannot even be touched. She shows how to harvest the ones used for their classes. When the group returns to the kitchen, Annamaria discovers that one of the very sharp knives used by the class has not been given back. Much later that night, student Bob Gramm, husband of Glynis, is extremely ill and rushed to the hospital, where he later died. The spouse is usually the first suspect, especially when they were overheard the night before having an argument about Bob’s latest girlfriend. One piece of evidence, however, pointed at Annamaria. Bob died from ingesting poisonous mushrooms. While everyone had their hands in the cooking pots that day, evidence is located that leads the police to arrest Annamaria. She does not want to be on the case, but Nell wants to get Annamaria out of jail. She does not believe the woman, a former nun, would do such a thing. She also wants to save the reputation of the cooking school. Pete, Chef Claudio’s son, has been interested in Nell and she in him. When she tries to help solve the murder and keep the classes moving forward, Pete feels his toes are being stomped on and protests. Maybe it is time for her to go back to the states, nursing a wounded heart. This novel can be read as a standalone, but one would understand some of the people and backgrounds better if read in order. Every added ingredient to this cozy makes simmers up a perfect result. The characters are a charming mix – well, except for the killer. The setting is great, and Annamaria’s sisters, who are all members of a nearby convent, are a blast! The mystery is tough, and I never fully figured out the solution. There are surprises at the end, and I found it to be satisfying with one small exception but will not spoil it. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys well-written cozy mysteries, Tuscany, Italian cooking, and quirky characters. From a thankful heart: I received a complimentary copy of this novel, and this is my honest review.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Erica (sand_between_pages)

    Thank you so much to NetGalley and Berkley for the ARC of Crime of the Ancient Marinara! . This book is deemed a 'cozy mystery', and having recently read Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder , another cozy, and not liking at all, I was really hesitant to dive back into another cozy. That being said, I was really pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book! . This is the second in the series A Tuscan Cooking School Mystery, and I think it would be extremely helpful to read book 1. I sorta dove into Thank you so much to NetGalley and Berkley for the ARC of Crime of the Ancient Marinara! . This book is deemed a 'cozy mystery', and having recently read Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder , another cozy, and not liking at all, I was really hesitant to dive back into another cozy. That being said, I was really pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book! . This is the second in the series A Tuscan Cooking School Mystery, and I think it would be extremely helpful to read book 1. I sorta dove into the middle of the character ARCS and I think had I read the first, the characters would have been familiar and it wouldn't have taken so much time for me to get into the story. . That being said, I enjoyed the writing and the mystery. For me, anything that takes place in Italy is a WIN and there was definitely a lot of Italy/Italian/Recipes to keep me turning the pages. So I definitely recommend this book, but start with the first!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    This had a great start and a great ending with a very creative killer reveal, but the middle dragged for me a bit. I felt bad for Nell and how she was being treated, mainly by Peter and Chef. Still a good book and the ending was worth it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia Moore

    I had not read the first in this series and I think because of the things mentioned in this book, it would have been beneficial. I didn't really get into the book. The MC seemed paranoid that she was looking for trouble before anything even happened. And she went in people's rooms and searched them without much of a reason. Quite often I felt like I was reading an inside joke and I was on the outside. Comments would be made partially and left to the reader to make assumptions as to what the auth I had not read the first in this series and I think because of the things mentioned in this book, it would have been beneficial. I didn't really get into the book. The MC seemed paranoid that she was looking for trouble before anything even happened. And she went in people's rooms and searched them without much of a reason. Quite often I felt like I was reading an inside joke and I was on the outside. Comments would be made partially and left to the reader to make assumptions as to what the author meant. It was too ambiguous. Peoples actions were not sufficiently supported by evidence. I just found my self asking "what does that mean?' way too often to enjoy the book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    OpenBookSociety.com

    https://openbooksociety.com/article/c... Crime of the Ancient Marinara Tuscan Cooking School Mystery, Book #2 By Stephanie Cole ISBN 9780593097816 Author website: Stephaniecolebooks(.)com Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie Synopsis: American chef Nell Valenti’s high hopes for a successful Tuscan farm-to-table cooking school are in danger of withering on the vine in this delectable cozy mystery. Nell Valenti is settling into her role of transforming the Villa Orlandini into a superb farm-to-table cooki https://openbooksociety.com/article/c... Crime of the Ancient Marinara Tuscan Cooking School Mystery, Book #2 By Stephanie Cole ISBN 9780593097816 Author website: Stephaniecolebooks(.)com Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie Synopsis: American chef Nell Valenti’s high hopes for a successful Tuscan farm-to-table cooking school are in danger of withering on the vine in this delectable cozy mystery. Nell Valenti is settling into her role of transforming the Villa Orlandini into a superb farm-to-table cooking school, and the time has finally come for a full taste test run. But when Chef Orlandini prepares to reveal his top secret marinara recipe for the first time to a group of American gastro-tourists, Nell realizes she might have bitten off more than she can chew. Nell begins to suspect that one of the tourists is actually a private detective sent to spy on her by her overprotective father, and the fussy foodies are noisy and disrespectful from the very start of the Marinara Mysteriosa workshop. Even worse, when one visitor appears to be poisoned by the famous marinara recipe, Nell will have to work fast to uncover a killer and keep a lid on bad press before her fresh start is spoiled for good. Review: I enjoyed this visit to Villa Orlandini, the newest Tuscan gastro-tour destination, even more than the first! It was a pleasure to get to know the Orlandini and Bari families better, as well as Nell, who came from the United States to design their new cooking school. The setting of the gorgeous countryside of Tuscany made it very appealing to this armchair sleuth. The humor, great characters, and mystery helps make this a fabulous vacation from daily cares and keeps the pages flying. Villa Orlandini is a former 500-year-old convent that has been owned by famous Chef Claudio Orlandini for many years. The septuagenarian developed and introduced his secret recipe for his world-renown prima marinara sauce decades ago. This first class will have five students, all from America, for a four-day intensive called Marinara Mysteriosa. The real tease is if he will really reveal the secret ingredient to the world since no other chef has been able to guess it or duplicate the flavor. There is a strong attraction between Nell and Pete, Chef’s son and owner of Second Wind Olive Grove. Five Americans arrive, eager to learn all about making marinara sauce. The teaser of learning the secret recipe for Chef’s proprietary marinara sauce has appeal. There is one married couple, Bob and Glynis; Bob is not happy to be there. Jenna is a coffee barista who wants much more for her life. Zoe is an outdoor educator, and George is a server at an upscale bistro in Brooklyn. The questionnaires do not indicate that any have cooking experience. Annamaria has been Chef’s sous chef for over forty years and has never gotten over the affair they had as many years ago. It is quite the shock, then, when Chef is taken in by Zoe’s charm and he makes her his sous chef for one of the lessons. Annamaria’s sisters are sisters at the convent in nearby Cortona and are on loan to help with their needs as they begin their first intensive. The first day went reasonably well, including Annamaria taking them out to harvest mushrooms and learn to identify the difference between safe and poisonous. Annamaria told Nell afterwards that one person in the group did not return the knife used for harvesting. George appears interested in Nell, resulting in Pete being jealous. When teaching the four marinara sauces later that day, Chef Claudio claims one is his secret recipe, revealed on the first rather than the last full day. Nell overhears George and Zoe talking about something being missing; she wonders if they are discussing the sauce. The tour van hired to transport the students was taking the group into town to enjoy live music in the piazza. Bob complained that there was battery acid on his pasta that was hurting his tummy and stayed behind. Jenna, the youngest student, could not be found, and Nell wanted to find out where the missing knife could be, so Nell stayed at the Villa, also. The next morning, Nell learns that Bob was taken to the hospital during the night, very sick. Later that day, he died, and the labs done showed he died from the poisonous mushroom that Annamaria had shown the class the day before. It had probably been in one of the marinara sauces he ingested for dinner. After a day of questioning everyone, the police found evidence in the kitchen pointing to Annamaria. Convinced that she is innocent, Nell wants to find who killed Bob and get Annamaria out of jail. It was fun getting to know the characters better! Nell and Annamaria are my favorites, even as Anamaria’s sisters seem like a fun family with their affinity for playing and singing to Billy Joel music. Nell and Pete make a good couple, until stress and jealousy sends Pete in another direction. The visiting students are defined well enough to make solving the murder hard. Second in this fun new series, I would suggest reading Al Dente’s Inferno before this to get a better flavor of the characters and background. Delicious plot twists took this reader by surprise more than once, and totally changed the face of the mystery and possible suspects. I did not realize who the real bad guy might be until a page or two before Nell’s light bulb moment. She did a fabulous job of revealing the killer, and the end was almost completely satisfying. I highly recommend it!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sapphyria

    The time has come for all of Nell Valenti's hard work to pay off. The inaugural class is due to Villa Orlandini soon, consisting of five American students. During the introductions, Chef Orlandini surprises everyone by indicating he will be revealing his secret marinara sauce to the class, Nell, and everyone else in the household is shocked. Nell also discovers her father sent another private eye to spy on her and is intent on calling her father out. Revealed secret marinara sauces and private e The time has come for all of Nell Valenti's hard work to pay off. The inaugural class is due to Villa Orlandini soon, consisting of five American students. During the introductions, Chef Orlandini surprises everyone by indicating he will be revealing his secret marinara sauce to the class, Nell, and everyone else in the household is shocked. Nell also discovers her father sent another private eye to spy on her and is intent on calling her father out. Revealed secret marinara sauces and private eyes become back-burnered, the least of Villa Orlandini's worries, when one of the class members is poisoned. In a group full of suspicious characters, Nell must now figure out what and how the poisoning occurred and who is responsible, before their inaugural class becomes Villa Orlandini's only class. Crime of the Ancient Marinara was an interesting story with likable characters and a believable mystery. Nell is a hard-working American trying to get a culinary school in Italy off the ground. She takes her job seriously, sometimes too seriously it seems. She's doing her best to learn the language and for only a month in, I think she's doing a fine job. Nell is written with realism and her interactions with everyone fit the way a professional in a less-than-perfect situation would act. The mystery surrounding the poisoning of one of the attendees was well thought out. The suspects were plenty, even if unlikely and/or not plausible. The lead up to and reveal of the murderer, along with the means and motive, were plotted well and I wasn't sure who the culprit was until closer to the reveal. Nell's amateur investigation produced far-fetched theories and her snooping around was borderline illegal, but it didn't detract from my enjoyment. The story itself was rather slow-paced and it took me a bit longer to read Crime of the Ancient Marinara that other books I've read lately. I still found the story interesting and engaging, with good character development and wonderful world building. I was able to visualize every element of the story including the mouth-watering recipes. I'm excited to see what happens at Villa Orlandini in the next book. I was provided a copy of this book to read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    Originally posted on my blog: Nonstop Reader. Crime of the Ancient Marinara is the second Tuscan Cooking School cozy mystery by Stephanie Cole. Released 26th January 2021 by Penguin Random House on their Berkley imprint, it's 304 pages and available in paperback, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately Originally posted on my blog: Nonstop Reader. Crime of the Ancient Marinara is the second Tuscan Cooking School cozy mystery by Stephanie Cole. Released 26th January 2021 by Penguin Random House on their Berkley imprint, it's 304 pages and available in paperback, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately. This is an engaging cozy mystery set in the Italian countryside around gastro-tourism and a high end cooking school which the expat American main character Nell Valenti is setting up at a villa/convent. Five Americans show up for the first run and it's not long until murder shows up to complicate things for Nell & co. This is one of those books with a punny title, outlandish setup, strong romance subplot, clean language, non-gory murder, and some recipes included in the back of the book (not included in the early eARC provided for review - so I can't comment on the specific recipes, but they're usually pretty good). It's undemanding and well paced and written, professionally edited and polished. I confess I was hindered in my reading enjoyment because I didn't find Nell a particularly sympathetic or relatable character. She seemed very prickly and petty throughout most of the book. Well written with a satisfying denouement. Three and a half stars. I would recommend it to fans of the first book in the series and to readers who enjoy the genre. Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    American Nell Valenti is hired to develop a world-class cooking school requiring a move to Cortona, Italy. She is now living and working in a villa owned by renowned Chef Claudio Orlandini. His Cornell-educated son, Pete, as well as a cast of female family members also reside at the villa. Nell has her work cut out for her. The Orlandini family is quirky and set in their ways. Trying to organize them is like herding turtles, one or more of them frequently wander off to do his or her own thing cre American Nell Valenti is hired to develop a world-class cooking school requiring a move to Cortona, Italy. She is now living and working in a villa owned by renowned Chef Claudio Orlandini. His Cornell-educated son, Pete, as well as a cast of female family members also reside at the villa. Nell has her work cut out for her. The Orlandini family is quirky and set in their ways. Trying to organize them is like herding turtles, one or more of them frequently wander off to do his or her own thing creating chaos instead of the organization Nell is striving to achieve. The first class of students in the cooking school is a group of Americans that have arrived excited to learn the recipe for Chef Orlandini’s famous marinara. It is to be the highlight of the final day. Unfortunately, an unruly chef and the murder of one of the Americans waylays any plans that Nell made. Unsatisfied with the suspect the police have in custody, Nell begins her own investigation with a man she thinks is a private detective – but is he really? Between the lies, secrets and a language barrier Nell is ready to throw in the towel – but can she ever forgive herself if someone gets away with murder? Quirky characters fill the pages of this mystery. The chef is over the top Italian and his son is a sexy olive pressing hunk. The Orlandini women range from nuns to a talented sous chef. The Americans add an interesting mix along with the elements of surprise. Almost all of the book is set at the villa. I would have liked more adventures away from the villa, to give me more of the taste of Italy. Other than the problems in communication between characters speaking Italian and others speaking English, the setting could have been anywhere. I wanted descriptions of the town, really bringing the reader into the beautiful country of Italy. Crime of the Ancient Marinara is the second book in this cozy mystery series. I did not read the first book and was a bit lost in the first few chapters as to the relationships between the characters. Overall, this was an enjoyable cozy mystery. Author Stephanie Cole is also known as Shelley Costa. She has been nominated for both an Edgar and an Agatha Award as Shelley Costa. This is the first book I have read by Ms. Cole or Ms. Costa. DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley and the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

  14. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    This cozy was just what I needed - a get away to Tuscany and good Italian food. Nell is the main character, an American who is trying to escape her overprotective father and to start a new career. To that end she is working to turn a rather rundown villa into a first rate cooking school. After much work it's time to cross her fingers and see how ready they really are. Their first class of Americans arrive but murder comes along for the ride. Chef Orlandini (aka Chef O) has a secret marinara sauc This cozy was just what I needed - a get away to Tuscany and good Italian food. Nell is the main character, an American who is trying to escape her overprotective father and to start a new career. To that end she is working to turn a rather rundown villa into a first rate cooking school. After much work it's time to cross her fingers and see how ready they really are. Their first class of Americans arrive but murder comes along for the ride. Chef Orlandini (aka Chef O) has a secret marinara sauce and it is to take center stage. Things take a deadly turn when one of the attendees is poisoned. Nell needs to work fast to catch the killer before bad press brings all of their plans for the cooking school crash and burn. Nell's future plans will go the same way. If trying to salvage the fledgling cooking school isn't hard enough, Nell is certain that one of the Americans is really a private detective hired by her father to spy on her. Her investigating also has one very big hurdle - she speaks almost no Italian and the Italians speak almost no English. Talk about a challenge. I enjoyed everything about this cozy and to say that it made me hungry would be an understatement. Too bad a trip to Italy isn't possible these days. Nell has issues to work through but don't we all? I found her to be a great character, she was real and sometimes annoying. Besides the food, the satisfying mystery and the setting there is lots of humor. Put it altogether and this is a very good cozy series. My thanks to the publisher Berkley and to NetGalley for giving me an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    This is the 2nd installment in the Tuscan Cooking School mystery series. I did not read the first installment, however, I was able to follow along and have already ordered the first in the series to get caught up. Nell Valenti has moved to Tuscany to set up a farm to table cooking school and there has been a lot of work in getting this ready. She is working with famous Chef Claudio Orlandani (chef O), and they are getting ready to host a group of American tourists she is getting nervous they may This is the 2nd installment in the Tuscan Cooking School mystery series. I did not read the first installment, however, I was able to follow along and have already ordered the first in the series to get caught up. Nell Valenti has moved to Tuscany to set up a farm to table cooking school and there has been a lot of work in getting this ready. She is working with famous Chef Claudio Orlandani (chef O), and they are getting ready to host a group of American tourists she is getting nervous they may not be ready. Chef O is famous for his marinara sauce and they are prepared to go thru the recipe and reveal the secret recipe but a tourist ends up dead and she also believes that one of the tourists is a detective hired by her over protective father. First she needs to solve the mystery of the dead tourist to stop any bad press otherwise her whole project her is about to go up in flames. There are issues in that she does not speak Italian and most there do not speak English. The American tourists are pains and one of them is a murderer. Nell is a good character and the story moved at a really good pace. I was able to enjoy without having read the first book but I am going back to read that as I usually like to read a series in order. Looking forward to the next installment.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Gray

    Five tourists have come to Nell's cooking school in Tuscany in anticipation of Chef Orlandini revealing his magically wonderful marinara recipe- and then one of them is murdered! Nell moved to Italy to more or less escape her family and to help the Orlandini family transform their slightly tatty villa into a cooking school. Unfortunately, trouble seems to follow her and in this second installment in the series (which is fine as a standalone), it's possible that her father has sent someone to kee Five tourists have come to Nell's cooking school in Tuscany in anticipation of Chef Orlandini revealing his magically wonderful marinara recipe- and then one of them is murdered! Nell moved to Italy to more or less escape her family and to help the Orlandini family transform their slightly tatty villa into a cooking school. Unfortunately, trouble seems to follow her and in this second installment in the series (which is fine as a standalone), it's possible that her father has sent someone to keep an eye on her as well. It's a fun cozy with a terrific setting and no spoilers from me regarding who is murdered and why. Know that Nell doesn't speak much Italian and the staff doesn't speak much English so there are occasional Italian phrases, the meaning of which will be obvious. Chef O is a hoot at times (and a pain at others), his son Peter might be a love interest for Nell, and each of the tourists has an interesting aspect. You might quibble with how Nell investigates (shouldn't she work more closely with law enforcement?) but that's how cozys go. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. This was a nice diversion from the news and it made me ache to travel again. I'm looking forward to the next one.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    Book Two of the Tuscan Cooking School Mystery series. Nell Valenti gave up her previous life to move to Tuscany, with the goal of turning an aging Villa Orlandini into a top-of-the line cooking school experience. After a rapid facelift of the Villa, she and her staff are ready for their first group of gastro-tourists, Americans with high expectations, hoping they will receive the chef's secret recipe for marinara which has made him famous. By the way, Nell does not speak Italian and her staff Book Two of the Tuscan Cooking School Mystery series. Nell Valenti gave up her previous life to move to Tuscany, with the goal of turning an aging Villa Orlandini into a top-of-the line cooking school experience. After a rapid facelift of the Villa, she and her staff are ready for their first group of gastro-tourists, Americans with high expectations, hoping they will receive the chef's secret recipe for marinara which has made him famous. By the way, Nell does not speak Italian and her staff does not speak English. The group of foodies are not easily pleased, complaining, disrespectful, and no one wants to follow the schedule. Then one member of the group dies. Was he poisoned by the famous marinara sauce? Or was there something else at work here? Nell thinks one of the foodies is actually an undercover detective sent by her father to look after her. Can she call on him to help solve the murder or is he a suspect? Is her cooking school, Marinara Mysteriosa, doomed to failure before it even gets off the ground? I received an e-book from NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group, in exchange for a review.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    "Crime of the Ancient Marinara" is a cozy mystery. This novel is the 2nd in the series, and this story didn't spoil the whodunit of the previous book. You don't need to read the previous novel to understand this one, but you may wonder why Nell likes Pete so much since he mainly acted stressed and jealous in this book. Nell was often in awkward or mildly humorous situations (situational humor), but she didn't come across as incompetent. She felt like she had to solve the murder to save her job an "Crime of the Ancient Marinara" is a cozy mystery. This novel is the 2nd in the series, and this story didn't spoil the whodunit of the previous book. You don't need to read the previous novel to understand this one, but you may wonder why Nell likes Pete so much since he mainly acted stressed and jealous in this book. Nell was often in awkward or mildly humorous situations (situational humor), but she didn't come across as incompetent. She felt like she had to solve the murder to save her job and the school. It was a clue-based mystery, and Nell poked around people's rooms and asked questions to find clues. Frankly, I thought whodunit was pretty obvious from the start, though there were two others who acted suspicious who also could've done it. I still don't like that Nell withholds evidence from the police. She could have taken a picture of the evidence for her own use rather than taking the original from the scene. There were no sex scenes. There was occasional use of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting mystery. I received an ebook review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    Chef Nell Valenti’s re-created life as a cooking school start-up designer is not going well. The aging Villa Orlandini in Tuscany is in need of a facelift, the noted chef is a clueless wonder whose son is trying to make the whole cooking school thing work to bring in much needed cash, and the nuns' English is as nearly non-existent as Nell's Italian. Besides that, they were involved in a murder investigation only a month ago. Now there is a new batch of students from America, including a private Chef Nell Valenti’s re-created life as a cooking school start-up designer is not going well. The aging Villa Orlandini in Tuscany is in need of a facelift, the noted chef is a clueless wonder whose son is trying to make the whole cooking school thing work to bring in much needed cash, and the nuns' English is as nearly non-existent as Nell's Italian. Besides that, they were involved in a murder investigation only a month ago. Now there is a new batch of students from America, including a private detective sent along by Nell's overbearing father and the unpleasant and constantly complaining husband of one of the women who really want to be there and learn. So guess who gets done in this time. Lots of red herrings and plot twists as well as some very interesting characters. Nell has a hard time doing the sleuthing but still has time for humor. Really enjoyed this one! I requested and received a free ebook copy from Berkley Publishing Group via NetGalley. Thank you!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tara Farbstein

    This cozy mystery set in Tuscany, at a cooking school, pulled me in right away with its setting and concept. Nell Valenti was hired to transform a villa in Tuscany into a world-class cooking school run by the Orlandini family and renowned Marinana chef. In this novel, 5 Americans come to the school for its first Marinara workshop. However, when one of them is murdered, Nell looks to clear the name of one of the Villa's employees and solve the mystery. The author did a very good job of describing This cozy mystery set in Tuscany, at a cooking school, pulled me in right away with its setting and concept. Nell Valenti was hired to transform a villa in Tuscany into a world-class cooking school run by the Orlandini family and renowned Marinana chef. In this novel, 5 Americans come to the school for its first Marinara workshop. However, when one of them is murdered, Nell looks to clear the name of one of the Villa's employees and solve the mystery. The author did a very good job of describing the Tuscan setting and cooking school. However, Nell, the main character, annoyed me quite a bit. I just could not understand her. Her moods were constantly changing and I had a hard time connecting with her and understanding her motives. I really wanted to love this book. Maybe it would have been better if I'd read the first book in the series, as there were numerous references to an earlier murder which I didn't understand. Having some background on the characters may have been helpful.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    This was an interesting read. I've never been to Italy but felt the pull of the culinary aspects through this book. The characters were realistic and the dialog conveyed the feelings of their experience in the Cooking Class. I was kept off guard as the story unfolded and surprised at the turn of events as a death closed the kitchen. It was one mishap after another and our heroine sleekly came up with ingenious alternative plans. I would like to hear further adventures from this author and her su This was an interesting read. I've never been to Italy but felt the pull of the culinary aspects through this book. The characters were realistic and the dialog conveyed the feelings of their experience in the Cooking Class. I was kept off guard as the story unfolded and surprised at the turn of events as a death closed the kitchen. It was one mishap after another and our heroine sleekly came up with ingenious alternative plans. I would like to hear further adventures from this author and her surprisingly inventive designer. I definitely had to cook some Italian meals as I read through the week at the cooking school. I would love to try some of the marinara sauces that were described. I also love olives and had to break out a favorite jar just so I could continue the book without drooling too much. A delightful, fun, romp through the Italian countryside.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

    This is one of those series where you will need to start at the beginning or you are going to feel lost for about half of the story. I was unable to get a feel for the characters and was really confused as to what sort of relationship Nell had with Peter, Chef O's son. About halfway into the story, the flow seemed to increase and the mystery got started. There was a nice variety of characters and plenty of guilty-looking parties with reason to want do in the deplorable Bob Gramm of Gramm's Lams, This is one of those series where you will need to start at the beginning or you are going to feel lost for about half of the story. I was unable to get a feel for the characters and was really confused as to what sort of relationship Nell had with Peter, Chef O's son. About halfway into the story, the flow seemed to increase and the mystery got started. There was a nice variety of characters and plenty of guilty-looking parties with reason to want do in the deplorable Bob Gramm of Gramm's Lams, least of all is his cheated on wife. I thought that the Billy Joel loving Bari sisters were a nice touch, and honestly, who could possibly believe that Annamaria could have possibly killed Bob, after all, what was her motive? My last bit of critique is that one cannot review a recipe when it isn't in the ARC.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Patrice

    This was my first book by this author. I'm a Jersey Girl and hey the main character is a Jersey Girl; how could I go wrong. This was an interesting read for me. It is well written and the characters are "approachable". The mystery was a good "cozy" mystery and sort of kept me guessing until the end. I enjoyed the play of the main character, Nell, with all the others. I liked the chemistry hinted at between her and Chef's son, Pete (Pierfranco). It wasn't an "I couldn't put it down" kind of story This was my first book by this author. I'm a Jersey Girl and hey the main character is a Jersey Girl; how could I go wrong. This was an interesting read for me. It is well written and the characters are "approachable". The mystery was a good "cozy" mystery and sort of kept me guessing until the end. I enjoyed the play of the main character, Nell, with all the others. I liked the chemistry hinted at between her and Chef's son, Pete (Pierfranco). It wasn't an "I couldn't put it down" kind of story; but, it did hold my interest. I had to finish it too see what happened and there were a few plot twists (some I saw coming; others I didn't). All-in-all a good story that I would recommend to those that like a nice cozy mystery with a little spark....

  24. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    If you have ever dreamed of going to a cooking farm-to-table school in Italy to learn from a master chef, this book is for you. Although there is murder and mayhem, I can image the students of these classes are as nutty as these characters. Nell Valenti is trying to turn the Villa Orlandini into a destination cooking school, but Chef Orlandini decides he is finally going to reveal his 50-year-old secret marinara recipe to this group. Things get tense and someone dies, but the students want to co If you have ever dreamed of going to a cooking farm-to-table school in Italy to learn from a master chef, this book is for you. Although there is murder and mayhem, I can image the students of these classes are as nutty as these characters. Nell Valenti is trying to turn the Villa Orlandini into a destination cooking school, but Chef Orlandini decides he is finally going to reveal his 50-year-old secret marinara recipe to this group. Things get tense and someone dies, but the students want to continue learning from the chef. Crazy, fun book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Laura Salas

    I haven't read book 1 in this series, but I loved book 2. Despite the ubiquitous punny title all cozies seem to have now, the writing here is better than in most. I love the Tuscan setting, the zany cast of characters, the occasionally lyric prose (never too wordy, though, and always moving the plot forward), and the deft plotting (well, with the exception of one extremely large coincidence). I'd tell you more, but I'm off to hunt down book 1! Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley i I haven't read book 1 in this series, but I loved book 2. Despite the ubiquitous punny title all cozies seem to have now, the writing here is better than in most. I love the Tuscan setting, the zany cast of characters, the occasionally lyric prose (never too wordy, though, and always moving the plot forward), and the deft plotting (well, with the exception of one extremely large coincidence). I'd tell you more, but I'm off to hunt down book 1! Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tamara Morning

    Title: Crime of the Ancient Marinara Author: Stephanie Cole Genre: Cozy mystery Rating: 4 out of 5 I hadn’t read the first book in this series, but that wasn’t much of an issue. This was a quick read, but I didn’t find much depth to it. Nell decides to investigate the murder herself—and doesn’t think it’s a big deal to withhold evidence from the police—and I couldn’t really understand her motivation for that. Chef was presented as a bumbling incompetent, which seemed unlikely, and Nell doesn’t speak Title: Crime of the Ancient Marinara Author: Stephanie Cole Genre: Cozy mystery Rating: 4 out of 5 I hadn’t read the first book in this series, but that wasn’t much of an issue. This was a quick read, but I didn’t find much depth to it. Nell decides to investigate the murder herself—and doesn’t think it’s a big deal to withhold evidence from the police—and I couldn’t really understand her motivation for that. Chef was presented as a bumbling incompetent, which seemed unlikely, and Nell doesn’t speak Italian, while all but one of the staff don’t speak English, which also seemed like an unlikely scenario (if she can’t communicate, how’d she end up with this job, living in Italy?). This was an easy read, but the whole setup wasn’t really believable to me. (Galley courtesy of Berkley in exchange for an honest review.) More reviews at Tomorrow is Another Day

  27. 4 out of 5

    Homerun2

    3.5 stars This second entry in the Tuscan Cooking School mystery series has a great setting -- the school's fledgling culinary travel class comes to Italy. American Nell Valenti has been hired to administer the school curriculum and "oversee" the temperamental Italian chef. The cooking school is at his family villa -- which is old and a bit crumbling but gorgeous and steeped in atmosphere. This would be more comprehensible if you had read the series debut. There is a fairly likable cast of charact 3.5 stars This second entry in the Tuscan Cooking School mystery series has a great setting -- the school's fledgling culinary travel class comes to Italy. American Nell Valenti has been hired to administer the school curriculum and "oversee" the temperamental Italian chef. The cooking school is at his family villa -- which is old and a bit crumbling but gorgeous and steeped in atmosphere. This would be more comprehensible if you had read the series debut. There is a fairly likable cast of characters and the plot is ingenious. The inclusion of Nell's issues with her famous pop psychologist parents is unnecessary, and we don't get any further into Nell's question mark relationship with the chef's hunky son. But there is a lot of action, some great food descriptions, and a lot of fun in the reading. Thanks to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Hoffman

    This is a charming little cozy mystery that is set in a cooking school in an Italian Villa. Nell Valenti he settling into her role heading of the new cooking school run by her mentor, Chef Orlandini. The first class is making Orlandini news famous marinara sauce, and the students are a bunch of American tourists. The mystery kicks in when one of the students is Poisoned with Orlandini's marinara sauce. I enjoyed the first book in this series, Al Dente's Inferno. It was great to return back to th This is a charming little cozy mystery that is set in a cooking school in an Italian Villa. Nell Valenti he settling into her role heading of the new cooking school run by her mentor, Chef Orlandini. The first class is making Orlandini news famous marinara sauce, and the students are a bunch of American tourists. The mystery kicks in when one of the students is Poisoned with Orlandini's marinara sauce. I enjoyed the first book in this series, Al Dente's Inferno. It was great to return back to this world and the characters. And see Nell solve a mystery again

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anjali

    A cozy mystery in Tuscany, this book takes place at a cooking school. There was some charm to the characters and the dialogue, but about one third of the way in the book, I wondered when the mysterious death would occur. While the main character solved the mystery and the suspect lead to a nice twist in the story, the charm inherent in a cozy mystery felt a bit lacking for me. Thanks to NetGalley and Berkley for the arc.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Thanks to the publisher, via Netgalley, for an advance e-galley for honest review. 3.5 stars rounded up. The setting of this series is carrying a lot of the weight, and the storyline is setting this up in an interesting way as to how it can possibly continue long term. The much foreshadowed murder happens relatively late in this story, and there are possibly a few too many plot lines and side characters. But the setting is really a true gem, and I do enjoy the charm of the family and school.

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