A Crust to Die For

A Tiffany Austin Food Blogger Mystery

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Pub Date 02 Jan 2024 | Archive Date 22 Feb 2024

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Description

Food critic and blogger Tiffany Austin investigates a murder at a pizza baking contest in her Southern home town in this second instalment of the Tiffany Austin Food Blogger Mystery.

"I was hooked from start to finish!" Laura Childs, New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries on Eat, Drink and Drop Dead

The Bon-Appetempting Pizza Bake-Off has the small town of Branson, Georgia buzzing. Not least its organizer, Southern Style's food critic and blogger Tiffany Austin. But right before the finals one of the celebrity judges falls ill, and to Tiffany's horror the magazine replaces him with none other than handsome TV star and restaurateur Bartholomew Driscoll.

Tiffany once gave his restaurant a poor review, and she's convinced he's only accepted the job to get revenge. She fully expects Driscoll will find a way to ruin the contest . . . but she definitely doesn't expect to trip over his dead body backstage!

Soon, it's clear Tiffany wasn't the only person who had less than positive feelings towards the sharp-tongued Driscoll. She's surrounded by suspects - but which of the motley crew of contestants, family members and scorned friends and colleagues had the guts to commit murder?

With the help of her BFF Hilary and annoyingly handsome detective Bartell, and with cat Lily and puppy Cooper as emotional support, Tiffany investigates, only to discover that revenge is indeed a dish best served cold . . .

A Crust to Die For is an appetizing culinary cozy for fans of Joanne Fluke, Lucy Burdette, Krista Davis and Jenn McKinlay. Lovers of smart, savvy female sleuths, twisty mysteries and mouth-watering food shouldn't miss it!

Food critic and blogger Tiffany Austin investigates a murder at a pizza baking contest in her Southern home town in this second instalment of the Tiffany Austin Food Blogger Mystery.

"I was hooked...


Advance Praise

“I was hooked from start to finish!”
Laura Childs, New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries on Eat, Drink and Drop Dead

“This light-hearted series debut has oodles of charm, mouth-watering descriptions of southern cuisine, and a sassy, savvy heroine”
Booklist on Eat, Drink and Drop Dead

“Captivating characters and plenty of intrigue . . . Delightful”
Publishers Weekly on Eat, Drink and Drop Dead

“I was hooked from start to finish!”
Laura Childs, New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries on Eat, Drink and Drop Dead

“This light-hearted series debut has oodles of charm...


Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781448310036
PRICE $29.99 (USD)
PAGES 256

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Featured Reviews

"A Crust to Die For" by T.C. LoTempio seems to be a second book in the "A Tiffany Austin Food Blogger Mystery." If you read the story, without over analyzing some of the details, then it's an interesting cozy mystery. I did totally call it about one of the major plot twists. I didn't quite get to who the murderer was until pretty much right at the reveal. Over all, read it as a fictional story and don't think too hard about what is logical for an amateur/not official investigator to expect to get from the police and a fee other details.

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Perfect for fans of Laura Childs and Ellie Alexander, revisit the world of food blogger Tiffany in Branson, Georgia.

What a great addition to the culinary cozy mystery genre, with well-rounded characters who are so realistically written that you could picture meeting them in your everyday life.

As an avid cozy mystery reader, this book really had me stumped on the killer until the reveal; which is an AMAZING thing.

I also didn't want the book to end, but by the sounds of what was hinted at towards the end of the book, Tiffany Austin will be back to solve another mystery in the (hopefully) near future.

As I have not read the first book in the series, it is now on my to read list as I excitedly await to see what this talented author will write next.

Thank you to NetGalley and Severn House for the opportunity to read this book for free and provide my honest opinion.

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A Crust to Die For is a delightfully appetizing cozy mystery starring food blogger Tiffany Austin and her adorable pets and lovely friends. Tiffany is hosting the Bon-Appetempting Pizza Bake-Off and is excited to crown the winner. However, during the finals, one of the judges is discovered murdered, and the prime suspect happens to be Tiffany's best friend's sister. In order to save Arleen from a life in prison, Tiffany must uncover the true killer. Unfortunately, the list of the judge's enemies is long and detailed, making Tiffany's job much more difficult.

A Crust to Die For has everything one would want in a cozy: a quaint town with charming establishments, lovable characters, and an intriguing mystery with several suspects. And, of course, the book is filled with mouth-watering dishes and food descriptions. I will absolutely be following Tiffany and her friends as they get into more trouble in Branson, Georgia.

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This was the second book in this series but it really doesn't take away if you start with this one. It is a great cozy mystery involving Tiffany as a food blogger as she gets involved in the death of a restauranteur that she panned. Of course he had many enemies so there is no lack of suspects, but the main one is the sister of her friend. Tiffany sets out to prove her innocence.

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Culinary Crime..
Tiffany Austin, food critic and blogger extraordinaire, returns in this delectable cosy mystery and the second outing in the Tiffany Austin Food Blogger Mystery series. When a pizza bake off contest turns fatal, Tiffany finds herself in the middle of the action once again. With a delightful protagonist, a fun and frothy plot populated with an eccentric and eclectic cast of characters and a well imagined setting this is a worthy follow up to the first in the series.

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Bartholomew Driscoll was a real creep - and his restaurant wasn't much good either. At least Tiffany didn't think so when she reviewed it. Now, though, he's dead, dead at the food contest she organized. Tiffany is sure that Arleen didn't kill him but she's got to convince her love interest detective. So who did do it? Well, this is a classic cozy with multiple suspects, cute pets, and food. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. For fans of the genre,

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A CRUST TO DIE FOR by T. C. LoTempio
The Second Tiffany Austin Food Blogger Mystery

Thrilled that Southern Style Magazine is using her pizza contest idea, Tiffany Austin is less than pleased when they are forced to use Bartholomew Driscoll as a replacement judge. Making enemies wherever he goes, the egotistical misogynistic food critic turned restaurateur has never forgotten the poor review Tiffany once gave his restaurant. Upon arrival, Driscoll is his usual surly self and is seen getting into arguments with a variety of people. When he's found dead and her best friend's sister becomes a prime suspect Tiffany promises to do all she can to find the murderer. Will she succeed, or will she once again find herself a target?

I really like Tiffany and her subtle and not so subtle methods of investigation. She's caring, but sees things with eyes wide open. She's someone with whom you can easily relate. I enjoy her relationship with her friends and I look forward to seeing where her relationship with Bartell goes.

I really enjoy when a louse gets murdered, as is the case here. There are always a lot of suspects, all with good motives. While I picked up on some things, there were enough surprises to keep me engaged, sometimes even catching me off guard.

A CRUST TO DIE FOR is a smart witty mystery full of friends and good food. Be sure to bring an appetite for pizza and sink your teeth into this delightful read.

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A Crust to Die For is the second book of this series, but a first for me. I had no trouble and feel it can be read as a standalone.

Tiffany is a trained chef but works as a food blogger in Branston, Georgia. She is hosting a home cook pizza making contest. One of her three judges is ill. His replacement is a food critic/restaurant owner that Tiffany gave a less than favorable review. He is found dead and her best friend's sister is the prime suspect. There is no shortage of suspects, so Tiff has her work cut out for her.

I love culinary cozies especially ins small towns and that is what drew me to this book. What kept me reading is a well-constructed mystery, interesting and likable characters and some cute pets. I also liked that I was not able to guess the murderer till the end.

An enjoyable read to snuggle up to with tea on a winter's day.

Thank you to NetGalley and Severn House for the chance to read and give my honest review.,

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This has had many awesome red herrings and rabbit holes to explore but I did start putting some of the items together right and solved right along with Tiff. I love that she and the detective were in a good place unlike what she’d been afraid of. I felt bad for Hilary’s poor sister being right in the middle of the murder investigation, but only Hilary’s amazing friend Tiff would even dream of trying to prove her bestie’s sister innocent.

That was some wild showdown and someone got to prove themselves useful after being thought of as not so useful. Bartell’s a sweetie and always acted grateful for Tiff helping. The ending was really sweet!

I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book and my opinions are my own.

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I think this is a fine edition to the cozy mystery genre. I didn't quite like it as much as the first one and I can't quite put my finger on why. Maybe because it just felt more obvious of a mystery for me or maybe because it felt a bit more like the rest of the genre (I liked that that first one really felt like a fresher and newer take on the genre).

I think there will be a lot of people who still really enjoy this, and with a lead up for a third, I'll probably still try out the third to see where it goes next.

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When the pizza bake off. Reaches the finals, one of the judges falls ill. Since the contest is Tiffany’s baby, she’s got to find a new celebrity judge. Until her boss lets her know they’ve already found a last minute replacement. Too bad it’s a chef that Tiffany panned in one of her restaurant reviews.

It seems that Tiffany isn’t the only one who Bartholomew Driscoll has problems with. No one at the bake off is happy with the chef and Tiffany manages to overhear several arguments the man has in the short time since he has arrived. The biggest question, though, is who hated the man enough to kill him, up close in personal? Tiffany knows her best friend’s sister didn’t kill the chef. Now Tiffany has to find the killer to not only save her bake off, but also to keep Ar from going to prison for a murder she didn’t commit. Can she do it before the bake off and murder case go cold?

Another fun entry in this series. I love the recipes and the friendships in this series and keep coming back for more.

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A Crust to Die For by TC LoTiempo is an interesting cozy mystery featuring Tiffany Austin, a chef in the past and now a food blogger and restaurant critic. Her blog, Bon-Appetempting, appears as part of Southern Style’s website and was very popular. So popular, in fact, that the company was sponsoring the Bon-Appetempting Pizza Bake-off with a grand prize of $10,000. They were at the semi-finals when the worst thing happened: one of their judges was taken ill and had to drop out and was replaced by Bartholomew Driscoll. That was bad news because Tiffany had reviewed his restaurant, Ambrosia, on a bad night, given it a poor review, and had been in Driscoll’s sights ever since. Could things get worse? Yes, they could, and did, when Driscoll was discovered murdered.

Tiffany is a terrific character: strong, independent, and curious. On the last investigation she had been involved with, she had met Detective Bartell and the attraction had been immediate. They had decided to explore it and then she heard no more. It’ s a slow-burn romance, apparently. He showed up for this one and implored her not to investigate, knowing full well she would anyway, especially when her best friend’s sister was arrested for the murder. It was a fairly slow process putting all the pieces together and Tiffany had the kind of mind that could do it. It was a terrific mystery, strongly rooted in the past and full of lies, deception, and secrets. Austin is a great character, on of the best in the genre. Excellent read!

I was invited to read a free e-ARC of A Crust to Die For by Severn House, through Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions are mine. #Netgalley #SevernHouse #TCLoTiempo #ACrustToDieFor

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A CRUST TO DIE FOR is the second book in the Tiffany Austin Food Blogger Mysteries by Toni Lo Tempio, but the first I’ve read in the series. I found it easy to connect with the characters since there was just enough backstory to help catch me up without slowing down the pace. I also appreciated that the book can be read as a standalone without feeling lost or feeling that threads had been left dangling in the plot from the first book. Protagonist Tiffany Austin, food critic and blogger, is quite likeable. She’s put her heart and soul into making the Bon-Appetempting Pizza Bake-Off contest a success as well as encouraging nervous contestants, one of which is her BFF’s sister. The author’s strong descriptive voice brings each setting to life so that the reader can clearly envision the action and the details.

The conflict starts early off with the introduction of a replacement celebrity judge for the contest. Horrified by the past critical review she gave his restaurant, Tiffany fully expects he accepted the position in order to exact revenge. Except it turns out the man clearly had made enemies of a multitude of others taking part and winds up dead halfway through the contest. Ms. Lo Tempio ratchets up the suspense through her well-plotted story, tempting the reader to turn page after page, to find out what happens next. With Tiffany’s BFF’s sister the primary suspect, it doesn’t take long for Tiffany to get involved to find the real culprit. Tiffany is fearless in asking questions and pushing people for answers. At times I felt like she crossed the line, but she does get results. As the clues came together, I had my suspicions, but with the final reveal, found I had fallen for misdirection. This is a well-written cozy mystery and I look forward to reading more in the series!

I was provided with an advance copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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I’m always a huge fan of mysteries that take place during some sort of food competition so this one grabbed me right away. I enjoyed getting to know Tiffany better in this one and, in particular, her food expertise; it was nice to have a chef making regular, everyday comfort food at home while trying more difficult dishes to recreate while out and about. While I was invested in the mystery, I found that Tiffany fell into the cozy trap – so much investigating, no actual working. There were also a few TSTL moments that I could do without as well as some theft to get clues, which annoys me, but other than that, I really liked this one and will continue with the series.

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I really enjoyed both books in A Tiffany Austin Food Blogger Mystery series. The characters are likeable and interesting and the.cozy mystery kept me guessing. Tiffany Austin is a food blogger and she writes food related articles for the local newspaper. Tiffany is involved with a pizza bake-off. Her best friend Hillary's sister Arleen is one of 3 contestants. One of the.judges is replaced with Bartholomew Driscoll, an unpopular TV food critic. Driscoll ends up dead and Tiffany is the one to find him during the bake-off. Detective Philip Bartell is on the case. Tiffany and Bartell are attracted to each other which adds some fun and humor to the story. Arleen is the prime suspect after a fight between her and Driscoll. Hillary asks Tiffany to clear Arleen's name but there are several other suspects to sort through. The story has a good pace and there is enough going on to keep it interesting. I suspect went he culprit but wasn't sure until the end. This was a very enjoyable cozy mystery! I can't wait until the next book! #NetGalley #SevernHouse #ACrustToDieFor. #ATiffanyAustinFoodBloggerMystery

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A delightful second book in this cozy series. When a restaurant owner who was a real jerk is found murdered behind the stage at a contest, Tiffany Austin is determined to find the killer. Filled with suspects and lots of red herrings. The food and pets are added delights. Thanks #Netgalley and #Severnhouse for the eARC in exchange for a honest review All opinions are mine.

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Dollycas's Thoughts

Southern Style's food critic and blogger Tiffany Austin's idea is coming to fruition with the Bon-Appetempting Pizza Bake-Off. She is very excited about the event but when one of the celebrity judges begs off due to illness she is more than upset by the magazine's replacement. TV star and restaurateur Bartholomew Driscoll has to be up to something. Tiffany gave his restaurant a well-deserved bad review and she knows he has not forgiven her. Does he have plans to ruin the Bake-Off?

Nervous about Driscoll's motives Tiffany never expected to find his dead body backstage before the first round's results were read. She is not surprised the man had his share of enemies but who hated him enough to kill him? Surrounded by contestants, family members, and the crew for the event Tiffany realizes one of them is a murderer, but who could it be? She knows it wasn't her best friend Hilary's sister even though all the evidence seems to be pointed directly in her direction.

Tiffany and Hilary team up to help the hunky Detective Bartell find the real killer while trying to save the Pizza Bake-Off, but it going to take more than crust, sauce, and cheese to get a slice of the killer. Tiffany may get burned before the killer is captured.

____

Tiffany has found her place at Southern Style and is thriving. Working with her BFF Hilary and for her friend Dale is just icing on the cake. All three are involved in the Bon-Appetempting Pizza Bake-Off so it is nice to see them continue to develop nicely. The confusing relationship Tiffany had started with Detective Phillip Bartell gets some clarity within the pages of this story as well. Miss LoTempio introduces an interesting group of supporting cast too. All have a purpose in the story and the interactions of the entire cast feels true to life.

I enjoy the Food Blogger theme of this series and that the Bon-Appetempting Pizza Bake-Off was for home cooks who were readers of the blog.

The mystery put forth in A Crust to Die For was intricate. There were a lot of people in and around the Branson High School Auditorium where the event took place and any of them could have grabbed the murder weapon and done the deed. It made sense that Tiffany would want to investigate. She was there, it was her event, plus she couldn't believe Hilary's sister Arleen would kill anyone. She also has a way of getting people to open up to her. But she did take some huge unnecessary risks and was sometimes overly zealous in her questioning. I was very surprised by one of her actions but it did make all the clues start to fall into place. I did have the killer at the top of my personal suspect list so I was thrilled when all was revealed.

A Crust to Die For was a fine mystery with an exciting showdown and satisfying ending. The characters were entertaining and engaging. I hope I get to revisit them soon. It sounds like a Foodie Fest will be Tiffany's next assignment and that sounds like a whole lot of fun to me with so many options for murder and mayhem.

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I read – and watch – a lot of cozy mysteries, and sometimes the murder victim is someone whose death is unexpected and very sad. Other times you can tell almost at once exactly who is going to be killed and – much as this probably reflects badly on you me as a person – you can’t wait for them to go. In A Crust to Die For, it’s definitely the latter when it comes to Bart Driscoll. He is an odious and sleazy person, to be sure, and while I never rejoice over even a fictional character’s death, I also wasn’t weeping over his demise. However, as the book progressed, LoTempio does a wonderful job of posthumously revealing much more nuance to his character than we first realize is there, and I love that she did actually make me feel some sadness over his murder after all.

That wasn’t the only surprise waiting for me on the pages of A Crust to Die For, though. For starters, when I realized it was set around a pizza contest that Tiffany Austin (our marvelous protagonist) is spearheading for Southern Style, I thought I pretty much knew how the suspect list would play out. Contestants, judges, other chefs… and, while those categories were definitely represented, the author took the story down some really intriguing paths that kept me eagerly turning the pages. It just kept getting more layered and more complex as Tiffany uncovered several long-held secrets that give even some of the people in her circle a motive to kill.

What was NO surprise to me was how much I continue to love Tiffany’s relationship with her BFF Hilary and with a romantic interest in the police department. This time it’s Tiffany’s turn to be there for Hilary, and of course she will be. I was also very pleased to see that the sparks between her and Detective Bartell are fanning into something with lots of promise. I really enjoy the dynamics between Tiffany and Hilary – and Tiffany and Bartell. Both of them complement Tiffany’s personality in different ways and add several smiles to the reading of this book in their interactions.

Bottom Line: What do you get when you combine real estate agents, truck drivers, beauty queens, food critics, professional chefs, investigative reporters, interior designers, college professors, restaurant owners, a pizza contest, a murder investigation and a small town in Georgia? A delightfully entertaining read, for starters! As with its predecessor, I enjoyed A Crust to Die For in large part due to the strong protagonist, her fun commentary via the first person narrative, and her relationships with BFF Hilary and swoony Detective Bartell. Tiffany is such a great cozy mystery heroine – she’s smart, talented, savvy, witty, friendly, and good at making connections that others might not. The mystery she finds herself investigating in this book has several layers of deception and secrets, making it just as delicious to solve as the pizza contest Tiffany is spearheading. I enjoyed T.C. LoTempio’s writing voice once more and look forward to more on-the-page visits to Branson, Georgia. Another fun read in this series!

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book)

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A Crust to Die For: A Tiffany Austin Food Blogger Mystery
By T.C. LoTempio
Severn House
January 2024

Review by Cynthia Chow

Former professional chef Tiffany Austin only recently assumed full-time status as food writer for Southern Style magazine, so she didn’t expect that her proposal for a home cook pizza contest would come to fruition. But Branson, Georgia’s first Bon-Appetempting Pizza Bake-Off is about to take off, with a $10,000 prize as an incentive for the competing home cooks. Putting a damper on Tiffany’s excitement is the news that one of the celebrity food critic judges has a health emergency and is bowing out, and their sponsor is replacing him with food reviewer-turned-restaurateur Bartholomew Driscoll. It’s going to make for an uncomfortable working situation, and Tiffany wonders why Driscoll even agreed to participate. When she only had a few weeks of experience as a food critic Tiffany gave out her first negative review, which happened to be for Driscoll’s opening restaurant Ambrosia. Tiffany regrets not giving the place a second tasting, especially since it went on to become a 4 and 5 star reviewed restaurant. Driscoll has neither forgiven nor forgotten, but she’s not the only one to feel his wrath though. The handsome, rather predatory lothario has left a wake of unhappy women and former business partners, and Tiffany overhears someone having an extremely aggressive argument with him. So when he is found stabbed to death with an expensive chef’s knife early in the competition, there is a surplus of suspects who wanted the foodie dead. And despite Tiffany’s initial promise to stay out of the investigation and instead focus on ensuring that the contest continues, suspicion falling on her best friend Hilary’s sister makes that impossible.

Former teen beauty queen Arleen Hanson is a finalist in the pizza bake-off, and her knife being the murder weapon unsurprisingly has her called in for questioning. Wanting to give Arleen the benefit of the doubt and especially needing to support Hilary, Tiffany makes the dubious choice to hide – or at least delay in reporting - incriminating evidence. It’s not going to make her relationship with Detective Philip Bartell go any smoother, as after a kiss he went M.I.A. and Tiffany is more than a little surly about it. Perhaps that’s why she blatantly ignores his warning and questions suspects, shares info with a reporter, and doesn’t disclose pertinent information to the authorities. The discovery of another body doesn’t slow her down at all, and the pressure to make her cooking contest a success adds a timer on closing the case and finding the real murderer.

This 2nd in the series is at its best when depicting the fun details involved in the cooking competition and the resulting creations. Equally compelling are the descriptions of Tiffany’s talents as she prepares linguini and other delights in her kitchen while mentally working through her list of suspects and clues. Bakery treats also served to help her bribe a gossip columnist into spilling rumors about the late restaurateur and his endeavors in the publishing world. Tiffany is rather impulsive and crosses legal boundaries as she investigates the crimes, but this is probably due as much to her irritation with Bartell as it is to deliver justice. Her furry “kids” Lily and Cooper, a Siamese and King Charles Cavalier, are always around to soften Tiffany and are sure to please animal lovers. Fans of cooking competitions, spirited characters, and mysteries with unpredictable resolutions will be left hungering for more as they turn the final page.

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