My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It’s the most wonderful time of the year in New Orleans, LA and Houston, TX—the primary setting locales for this transient and relatively decent cozy mystery penned by USA TODAY bestselling author, Traci Andrighetti.
Franki Baby, Hurry Down the Chimney.
Seated on a barstool at Thibodeaux’s Tavern in N’awlins on Christmas Eve night is Ms. Francesca Lucia Amato, a purebred Italian, licensed PI, coveter of sassy wit, and pitifully repressed Catholic. While awaiting the arrival of her best friend, fellow Italian and fellow gumshoe, Veronica “Ronnie” Maggiano, our leading lady Franki is quietly thinking about Bradley Hartmann, the president of Pontchartrain bank and her new beau. On the evening in question, Franki’s thoughts of Bradley revolve around the romantic dinner that she is planning to make for him in celebration of their very first Christmas together. And keeping Franki company—at least conversationally—is her golden girl of a landlady, Glenda O’Brien, this fleeting cozy’s very own “Blanche Devereaux.”
Soon, Veronica—who also happens to be Franki’s employer—arrives and further chit chat ensues before the Houston native who is Franki receives a frantic call from her mother back home telling her that Franki’s nonna (that’s Italian slang for “grandmother,” boys and girls) has gone missing.
The vanished nonna, whose given name is Carmela Montalbano, has left no leads, whatsoever, as to her whereabouts, nor has she called home to relay any indication. And this news immediately unnerves our certified sleuth who is now in detective mode and homebound. Veronica—who will be spending Christmas in Houston with her family anyway—has offered to drop her bestie off along the way, and from there, Cagney & Lacey, er, Amato & Maggiano head on out—Texas or bust.
Many unanswered questions lay in the wake of the eighty-three-year-old nonna Montalbano’s suspicious disappearance, including who the “Man in Black” was that a neighbor of the popular deli-owning Amato clan witnessed hustling Carmela into the backseat of a black, stretch limousine in broad daylight, and what those splotches that appear to be dried blood are in the family’s kitchen.
Franki doesn’t waste a minute of time pounding the pavement to query anyone else who may have seen or heard anything. She even pays a reluctant visit to her kinship group’s parish, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, to inquire of the clergyman in whom her Sicilian nonna emphatically puts her faith and trust—that clergyman being Father Nolan. Aside from patronizing our star investigator about her “still single” marital status, Father Nolan can be of no assistance to Franki regarding nonna Carmela’s orientation; he simply doesn’t know. But Father Joe—who’s acting awfully nervous for some strange reason—just might.
What on Earth has happened to Franki’s grandma? Has she been gobbled up by a big bad wolf? Has she fallen somewhere and can’t get up? Did she get run over by a raindeer while trying to get back to her family’s home on Christmas Eve? The inevitable, nutty as a fruitcake answer can be found right here on the hilarious pages of this holiday short story, brought to you by the humorous Traci Andrighetti.
Book 1 in the author’s Franki Amato Mysteries series, the 36-page Rosolio Red initially failed to ignite my undivided attention, but as the narrative progressed it ultimately found its footing and was able to evenly guide me along without any further stumbling.
Despite its Christmastime theme, I would recommend reading this zany cozy during anytime of the year when you may crave a quickie mystery with a side of hearty chuckle.
Because half-star ratings are not permitted in this particular system, I was faced with a “tough decision.” Should I rate this novella of fiction with four stars or five? Well, after weighing its pros and cons, the heft of its pros tipped the scale at just over 75%. With that, my decision was made.
Five gingerbread-flavored stars.