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It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder: 02/22/22
It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder by Maria DiRico is the third of the Catering Hall mysteries. Mia Carina's neighborhood is decked out for Christmas and the competition between streets is fierce. To complicate things, a murdered man is found in Santa's Workshop!
At work the catering hall is keeping Mia busy. She has two high concept events to plan. One is a nativity themed first birthday party and the other is a sweet sixteen party for a girl who just can't be satisfied.
Tied up in all of this chaos is cousin Lorenzo who just learned a huge family secret. He's angry that it's been kept from him. He was also the mark of a would be con and for a while he tried to use this situation to get back at his family. Now that the grifter is dead, he has regrets.
This past December was a rare one for me reading-wise in that I read a bunch of holiday themed mysteries. DiRico's, like most of the others, shares a theme of the chaos before the holidays. Each amateur sleuth seems to have her hands full with numerous obligations and the existential dread that their efforts will be for naught. For Mia the stakes are higher because they directly affect her business and her family.
Another recurring theme in recent mysteries is the child out of wedlock only now learning the truth as an adult. In this case, it's Lorenzo who has to come to terms with the truth, while it's Mia who is burdened with smoothing things with her extended family — on top of all her other responsibilities in the run up to Christmas.
I found Lorenzo's response to the situation — especially early on — to be petty. He brought a lot more unnecessary trouble unto himself and his family. Now if he hadn't put on this show there wouldn't have been much of a mystery.