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Rita Calabrese Books In Order

Publication Order of Rita Calabrese Books

The Secret Poison Garden(2018)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Secret in Thyme(2019)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Murder in the Moonshine(2019)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Of Masques and Murder(2020)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Rita Calabrese Series
Rita Calabrese is a cozy mystery series by Maureen Klovers. The series stars Rita Calabrese, an Italian-American matriarch who has done a good job of raising her kids, maintaining a home, and making the world around her a better place. When she becomes a journalist, Rita finds herself with a few murder mysteries to solve. In each book, there is a mystery to unravel and deep secrets to be revealed. As this is happening, the author takes the reader deeper into Rita’s family life and her kitchen. Each book comes with interesting yet simple recipes you can try out and see how they turn out and a good dose of Rita’s life at home.

The Secret Poison Garden
The Secret Poisonous Garden is the first book in the Rita Calabrese series. It introduces us to Rita Calabrese, a woman who has turned herself into the guardian angel in her Acorn Hollow hometown. Rita secretly delivers home-grown vegetables to struggling families, ensures that her husband and children are staying healthy, and even goes to the extent of finding one of her husband’s employees a job. So, how does Rita know who to help? Most of the time, it is from something she overhears. This means that her assumptions are wrong at times, but everything Rita does comes from a good place.

On her 66th birthday, Rita overhears something from her children, and this pushes her to consider another past time. Fortunately, she finds a reporter position with the local newspaper. Her first gig involves writing about a local teacher who owns a secret poison garden, and she does an impressive writeup. However, when a football coach is murdered using a deadly flower Rita had revealed in her writeup, the novice journalist feels responsible for this death. She is determined to find the killers and ensure that justice is done.

Rita’s investigation takes a different twist when she uncovers a few secrets. There is a chance that her son, Vinnie, is somehow involved in the football coach’s killing. Rita thinks that she knows her son pretty well, and her maternal instincts kick in when she discovers that she has to catch the killer in order to clear her son. Is this a task that Rita can easily complete? Who would want such a beloved football coach dead, and what would be their motivation?
This is an intriguing story featuring an elderly woman with a heart of gold and an overactive body to match. It is amazing what Rita can do at her age and the people she touches in her hometown. Her love for family is evident, and even though she meddles in their affairs, her heart is always in the right place. Set in New York, the book also comes complete with 8 Italian-American recipes that you are sure to love. The author sprinkles some interesting Italian customs and phrases, which gives this story quite an edge.

The Secret Poison Garden will capture your attention on the first page, and the tension doesn’t ease up until the end. As the mystery unfolds, the author will be showing you bits and pieces of Rita’s life and the mouthwatering dishes that form an integral part of her life. Spending time with Rita’s family is fun, and the ending will leave you wanting more of them and their unending drama. The story flows very well, and do not be surprised if you gobble the over 330 pages in one or two sittings.

A Secret in Thyme
A Secret in Thyme is the second book in the Rita Calabrese series. After the last case, Rita has earned herself a place in the list of most celebrated journalist in her home town. She is one sleuth woman, this one, and it is amazing how she was able to unravel the last mystery and help the police catch the football couch’s killers. Now the town is about to celebrate 300 years of existence and when the time capsule is opened, the body of a man who has been missing for 50 years is discovered. So, how did this man’s body end up in this coffin?

Aside from this new mystery, a lot is happening in Rita’s life. First, her high school flame, Stefano, is in town after being away for over 50 years, and it is Rita’s job to interview the now successful historian. Her husband’s annoying cousin is also in town, and in between trying to solve a murder mystery and acting as the perfect host, Rita has to put up with an ex who seems determined to rub his success in her face. Rita also feels that her high school beau is hiding something, and her curiosity will not let her rest until the truth is revealed.

It is amazing how the author has turned a woman of a certain age into a lovable protagonist. As the events around Rita’s fortieth wedding anniversary unfold, the author also lets us in on her marriage life and the ups and downs she had endured over the years. When her husband claims that his friends were murdered, he unintentionally adds more to Rita’s plate. Can this woman survive all this and still do her job well? Which secrets does Rita uncover this time around?
Just like in the first book, you are going to enjoy a few interesting Italian-American recipes in the course of the story. There is no doubt that the protagonist is a genius in the kitchen, and her prowess will wow you. The author paints a perfect picture of marriage and the many challenges that come with a long-term commitment. It is also outstanding how she includes Italian phrases and makes their meaning clear without offering a literal translation.
A Secret in Thyme is another interesting story, and the murder mystery is just the icing on the cake. The story flows so well that you will barely want to guess the culprit. As Rita goes through the list of suspects, the tension continues to rise, and the final reveal will leave you stunned. If you are looking for a well-written cozy mystery story with a lovable character and a believable storyline, this book is a perfect choice.

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