News Flash: Mindy’s winners are pgenest, Kathy Laweryson, and Luis Ole. Congratulations, folks, and please check your email.
Edith/Maddie here, just back from vacation and ready to get back to work.
But first, let me welcome Mindy Quigley to the Wickeds! Mindy and I both have short stories in the Beat of Black Wings anthology, in which every tale riffs in some way off a Joni Mitchell song (Sherry has one in it, too). I met Mindy during an online short story panel, and when I heard she had a first-in-series cozy mystery coming out, I invited her to the blog. Three lucky commenters will receive a copy of Six Feet Deep Dish! I can’t wait to start reading the book, which releases next week.
Isn’t that a great cover? Here’s the blurb:
Fresh mozzarella, tangy tomato sauce, and murder: the perfect recipe for a delicious first entry in Mindy Quigley’s Six Feet Deep Dish, a delectable new series…
Delilah O’Leary can’t wait to open her new gourmet deep-dish pizzeria in Geneva Bay, Wisconsin—a charming resort town with a long history as a mobsters’ hideaway, millionaires’ playground, and vacation mecca. Engaged to a hunk with a hefty trust fund, Delilah is poised to begin a life that’s just about as delicious as one of her cheesy creations. Just before opening night, though, Delilah’s plans for pizza perfection hit the skids when her fiancé dumps her and leaves her with a very large memento from their relationship—Butterball, their spoiled, plus-sized tabby cat.
Delilah’s trouble deepens when she discovers a dead body and finds her elderly aunt holding the murder weapon. Handsome local police detective Calvin Capone, great grandson of the legendary gangster, opens an investigation, threatening to sink Delilah’s pie-in-the-sky ambitions before they can even get off the ground. To save her aunt and get her pizza place generating some dough, Delilah must deliver the real killer.
Take it away, Mindy!
You ask people about their cupcake preferences, and they probably have thoughts. Chocolate or vanilla, fancy boutique flavors or made straight from the Duncan Hines box, unadorned or topped with edible sugar tchotchkes. These are legitimate opinions, and a variety of taste preferences is generally accepted.
Ask people about their favorite pizza, though, and emotions start running hot. Foldable New York by-the-slice? The pleasingly solid rectangle of a Detroit-style pie? Or a simple, quick-baking Neapolitan? Choose your weapon, because this is a shooting war.
I didn’t quite realize what choppy waters I was wading into when I decided to set the Deep Dish Mysteries series in a Chicago-style deep-dish pizza restaurant. Maybe I fell victim to what food journalist and pizza connoisseur Steve Dolinsky labeled PIGUE (Pizza I Grew Up Eating) Syndrome. PIGUE is characterized by an inability to judge pizza without bias, to distinguish good pizza from familiar pizza.
I was raised in Chicago, and to me there are two types of pizza:
- Crispy-crust tavern-style squares of the kind served by South Side staple Aurelio’s
- Deep-dish, with its thick, buttery crust, mile-high layer of oozing mozzarella and reversal of the usual order of toppings (i.e. cheese, then toppings, then sauce)
I’m a fairly adventurous eater overall, so in most culinary domains, I won’t knee-jerk dismiss the unfamiliar. But with pizza, I have feelings, and I know I’m not alone in this. There’s something so foundational, so rooted in rituals and memories of childhood, that insulting someone’s pizza preferences strays worryingly close to insulting their mama. This is a theme that undergirds the relationship of my main character, Chicago-native Delilah O’Leary, to pizza. Although she spent her early career in fine-dining, pizza is her passion. For her, deep-dish is about comfort, about deliciousness. A celebration of cheese and joy.
Even for readers who didn’t grow up eating deep-dish, I think the book will resonate. I pitched the Deep Dish Mysteries a few months before a global pandemic bullied its way onto the scene. Since then, we’ve collectively been on a long, strange trip. The elements of this series—snuggles with cats, cocktails with friends, and most of all pizza—may not cure everything that ails us, but they’re a reminder of what life can be.
The return to foundational foods seems to be in cultural zeitgeist at the moment. From the success of fictional shows like Hulu’s The Bear, which centers on a thinly-veiled version of Chicago’s iconic Mr. Beef sandwich shop, to real-life restaurants like Turkey and the Wolf, an undertaking by celebrity chef Mason Hereford that plays with iconic childhood dishes like bologna sandwiches, there’s an appetite to do away with baroque culinary creations and obscure ingredients in favor of nostalgic yumminess. Six Feet Deep Dish is in the same vein. After almost three years of self-denial, isolation, and a quasi-obsessive focus on our health, this book, I hope, will provide readers with a big, cheesy slice of comfort.
Readers: Have you tried deep-dish pizza? Did you like it? Do you think the pizza you grew up eating is ingrained in your palate for life, or have you moved on to greener pizza pastures? What memories does eating pizza evoke for you? Three commenters will win a copy of Six Feet Deep Dish! U.S. residents only.
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Mindy Quigley is the author of two cozy mystery series: the Deep Dish Mysteries and the Mount Moriah Mysteries.
Her short stories have won awards, including the 2018 Artemis Journal/Lightbringer Prize. Her non-writing career has been stranger than fiction, taking her from the US to the UK, where she worked as the personal assistant to the scientist who cloned Dolly the sheep, and as project manager for a research clinic founded by the author J.K. Rowling.
She lives in Virginia, with her Civil War history professor husband, their children, and their idiosyncratic miniature Schnauzer. Find out more at: mindyquigley.com