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Rosie Books

The Cannelloni Corpse

The Cannelloni Corpse

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The auditorium in Lake Basil High School brought back memories that I would prefer to forget. There was the time that Brittany Brown had pulled my shirt up in front of the entire school—that had been a real hoot. Or the night of the school debate, when I’d mixed up the topics and started arguing for the point of the opposing team and had been laughed off the stage. 

It was funny how I was almost forty, but those moments were ingrained in my brain, along with the chants of “Pizzaface Romano”. I had always felt unworthy of popularity and happiness in this place. 


I blinked, looking away from the main stage, its velvet green curtains drawn to hide the performers behind it, and turned toward Matilda. 

My friend, well into her forties, with streaks of gray in her dark hair and wide blue eyes, looked up at me with concern. “You were somewhere else. Are you OK?” 

“Yeah,” I said. “Just this place brings back a lot of memories. Not great ones.” 

“Well, that’s over now,” Matilda said, and looped her arm through mine. She was my best friend, the owner of the little bakery and tea spot opposite my restaurant, and it was strange to see her without her cat, Jumbo. He was her near-constant companion. 

“True,” I said. 

“We’re here to have a good time, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do. How often do we get to see an actual ballet performance in this town?” Matilda grinned happily. 

“Try never.” Because while Lake Basil was a popular tourist attraction during the summer months, it was the lake and the restaurants that got the most attention. We certainly didn’t have a movie theater or even a theater for artistic performances like the ballet in this town.  

Matilda and I stood at the back of the auditorium, waiting patiently for Jacob, my boyfriend, and Aunt Sofia and Uncle Rocco, who were basically my adoptive parents, to join us. 

Aunt Sof had spotted the popcorn stand and insisted on buying for us, Jacob had gone with her to help out, and Uncle Rocco had found one of his old friends, Tony, and become embroiled in an argument about basketball. Tony was a Lakers fan—perish the thought.

A soft chime rang through the auditorium, signaling for attendees to get to their seats before the show started. 

I couldn’t wait to see how this would turn out, especially with the crunching of popcorn in the background and the occasional expletive from one of the locals. You could take the New Yorker to the ballet, and… that was about it. Nothing else would change when it came to how Lake Basilites saw the world, popcorn, basketball, pizza, and swearing included. 

“There you are!” Aunt Sofia cried, hurrying over with an enormous bucket of popcorn in her hands. “What are you waiting for, girls? Let’s find our seats.” She patted her dark frizzy hair—pulled back into a bun for tonight—and cast a look back up the aisle. “Now, where’s Rocky gotten off to? I swear, I can’t take my eyes off him for a second.”

Jacob appeared in the crowd, juggling three more buckets of popcorn, and looking stressed, albeit handsome. My boyfriend, who happened to be the chef at my restaurant, was the epitome of tall, dark, and handsome—and harried at the moment. 

“How much popcorn do we need?” I asked. “Jacob’s about to collapse under the weight of it all.” 

“Aw, don’t be silly, honey,” Aunt Sofia said, watching with eager eyes as I took a bucket of popcorn from Jacob to help. “You chose a strong man to be your husband… Oop! I mean, boyfriend.” 

My cheeks grew hot. “Aunt Sofia!” 

“What? I didn’t mean it. But, I mean, look at the two of you.” She reached up and pinched Jacob’s cheek like he was a toddler then did the same to me. “You’re a match made in heaven. Oh! That reminds me, I’ve got to get a picture of all of us together. This is going to be a night to remember.” 

I didn’t let my irritation show nor did I look over at Jacob. 

We were a year into our relationship and things were going at the perfect pace for me. Slowly. I didn’t want to repeat past mistakes, even though Jacob was so good, he was almost too good to be true. Or too good for me. 

“Rocky!” Aunt Sofia waved my uncle over. 

A genuine smile parted my lips as my uncle, gray hair and all—he refused to color it like Aunt Sofia did—strode over to us. He was getting on in the years, but he was far healthier than he’d been when I’d first arrived in Lake Basil. 

“All right, all right, I’m here,” Uncle Rocco said. “Darn, Ned, crying about the Lakers losing against the Nuggets. I told him, I said, I told him that—” 

“That’s enough about basketball.” Aunt Sofia placed a kiss on his cheek. “We’re here to watch the ballet, remember.” 

“Excuse me!” A woman shoved past us. “Can you get out of the aisle?” She was a willowy, blonde creature, who was mostly legs, and she gave us a dirty look as she passed. Lake Basilites were blunt, sure, but they were never rude, and I didn’t recognize her from around town. 

Regardless, we filtered to our seats in a hurry. I sat between Jacob and Matilda, so I could whisper to either of them during the course of the evening. 

Jacob placed his hand on my forearm and stroked it, gently. 

I didn’t withdraw, but I tensed a little. “Sorry about what my aunt said.” 

“Didn’t make me uncomfortable,” he whispered, with a stomach turning wink. 

Stomach-turning because it made me so nervous, I could barely think straight. My last fiance had ruined my life. And Jacob was just so lovely and sweet and—

I have more important things to think about. Like relaunching the restaurant. 

I had started upgrades to Romano’s Pizza Parlor last year, and it had slowly developed into more than that. People didn’t just want pizza, they wanted to spend time with their families, just as I did, and what better way to do that than to rebrand and relaunch? 

Music started, played by the orchestra, which was seated off to one side of the auditorium, and the velvet green curtains rolled back, revealing three beautiful dancers on the stage. They wore pointe shoes, and the central ballerina wore a white tutu that sparkled under the lights. 

I was instantly lost in a sense of wonder. The dancers moved across the stage, leaping and spinning, their movements so effortless it looked like they floated rather than danced. 

The music reached a crescendo, dipped into a lull and—

“Boo! This sucks! You suck!” The shout came from a few rows in front of ours. 

“What the heck?” Uncle Rocco leaned forward in his seat. “Who was that?” 

“You suck! The Little Bear Ballet Company sucks! Boo!” The lady continued heckling the dancers. 

The principal ballerina, the one in the white tutu, actually stopped dancing and raised a hand to peer out into the darkened auditorium. 

“Hey, shut up!” A man shouted from further behind us. 

“Yeah.” Uncle Rocco shook his fist. 

But the lady wouldn’t be deterred. She rose out of her seat and continued shouting at the top of her lungs. It was the same leggy blonde who’d pushed past us in the aisle. “The Little Bear Ballet Company is a fraud! Worst dancing ever. You deserve to die!”

“Wow. What on earth?” 

A group of ushers hurried down the aisle toward the woman. The orchestra had gone silent on the command of the conductor, and most of the ballerinas had run off the stage to wait for the disturbance to stop. Except for the principal ballerina. She glared, her skinny arms folded across her chest, and her dark eyes sparkling with malice. 

The heckler was dragged out of her seat while we watched. “Let go of me! Let go! Get your hands off of me.” But her protests went unheard. She was carried bodily out of the hall, just as the orchestra struck up another song, masking the sound of the doors slamming shut behind her.

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At Romano’s Family Restaurant, the cannelloni special is good enough to die for…

Gina Romano has decided to relaunch her family restaurant in small town, Lake Basil, New York. With her chef boyfriend, Jacob, on the staff and the menu increased to include pasta dishes and a new family aesthetic, she’s convinced that the new launch will be the biggest news to hit the town in years.

Until one of her new customers dies in the bathroom of the restaurant on opening night.

It’s murder by cannelloni poisoning, and her boyfriend, Jacob, was the last person seen with the victim or the cannelloni in question.

Gina will stop at nothing to ensure Jacob is cleared of the crime. With the local detective breathing down her neck, and convinced that her boyfriend is the one whodunit, Gina has to work out of sight to solve the murder. If she doesn’t, she might lose her restaurant and the man she loves.

Will Gina catch the killer in Lake Basil and clear Jacob’s name? Find out in the first installment of A Romano’s Family Restaurant Cozy Mystery series from USA Today bestseller, Rosie A. Point. Grab your copy today!

Continue reading if you enjoy: 

  • Cozy small towns
  • Stories with pets and food
  • Laugh out loud humor
  • ZERO profanity and gratuitous scenes 

"So enjoyed this book! Loved the settings, the characters, the delicious food descriptions and the twisty mystery!!! Can’t wait for the next book!" ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Reader 

" Gina is in a quandary when one of the guests in her restaurant ends up dead. It appears that thea cannelloni is poisoned and her chef and boyfriend, Jacob is a suspect. Gina must prove his innocence but how? An intriguing mystery with a twist which had me guessing. " ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Reader 

" I can't wait to read the next book. Man this was a great story." ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Reader 

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