Like Pizza and Beer is an excellent follow up to [b:Like Coffee and Doughnuts|6516978|Like Coffee and Doughnuts (Dino Martini Mysteries, #1)|Elle Parker|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1327948887s/6516978.jpg|6708807], the first book in this series. This time around the writing is tighter and the story runs more smoothly. Here there are two mysteries to solve. The first is that Dino's ex, Gina, has someone trying to sabotage her restaurant's business. The second is that Seth's sister Molly has someone possibly following her and Seth believes it's related to her lowlife boyfriend.
Can you guess the conflict yet? Yes, Seth is jealous of Dino's ex and yes, he perceives that more time is being spent on Gina's case than his sisters. However, Seth isn't the typical jealous boyfriend who overreacts with everyone and has temper tantrums and refuses to help. No, Seth apologizes almost immediately every time his jealous streak shows, and he's so good natured that he doesn't have a problem helping Dino and Gina. He's incredibly sane and easy going about it, actually.
I love Seth--he has the patience and kindness of a saint--and I would be a hell of a lot more threatened than he was. Dino isn't even out of the closet and he's constantly afraid of getting caught. This does bother Seth, but he doesn't make the obvious connection that maybe Dino would be happier being with a woman. It's very clear that Dino and Gigi never stopped loving each other, they just couldn't reconcile their work lives and Seth knows this. Dino does seem to put Gigi's issues above Molly's and at first Molly was in more danger. Seth was right to be irritated.
Although Dino reassures Seth, his own thoughts aren't always where I wanted them to be. For example, (medium spoiler)Dino and a friend are reminiscing about old times, how good Dino and Gina were, and how great things would be for Dino if he were still with Gigi. Then Dino thinks, "By the end of it, I wasn't sure he didn't have a point about Gigi and me..." There were a couple of other times where he thought similar things but that was the worst. I never really got from him that it was ridiculous for him to have ever thought that, but I think it was because I read too much into it. I think he really was just agreeing that yeah, he'd have more money and a calmer life, but he didn't really think it would necessarily be better. Or maybe I'm just rationalizing.
Dino doesn't reassure Seth as often as he should and even evades the subject at times, which should only make Seth more concerned. I think there were points where Dino was being a jerk, exacerbated by the fact that he has never told Seth that he loves him. In fact, he isn't sure what to call Seth. He refers to Seth as his "boyfriend. Or whatever we were calling it," as if it was barely a relationship. They've been best friends for nearly a decade. The sexual part of the relationship hasn't been very long but how much time do you need when you know the person that well? (medium spoiler)I don't think Dino ever really apologized for his behavior. I'm not sure he ever realized what an ass he'd been.
The closeted issue really was bad. (moderate spoiler) When someone catches the two of them in a very compromising position, his first reaction is to shove Seth away (which dumps the man on the floor) and say, "I never meant for anyone to find out." He continues to make things worse by not shutting up. He is more worried about losing his apartment than respecting his relationship and Seth (and the latter is never addressed).
Seth is understandably upset but he gets over it much too easily (part of that easy going thing again) and Dino is way too oblivious and much too arrogant when he finally deals with it. (medium spoiler) It doesn't occur to Dino that Seth might not make up with him easily. I think he really should have been made to really understand the import of what he did and Seth should have wanted to keep his distance longer than he did.
That said, I think the actual resolution, how Dino dealt with stuff after his "apology" was just right for the character--not too sappy or drawn out or dramatic. Dino is a very private man and would probably be keeping any relationship close to the vest. So I don't think that to him, his actions were homophobic. The end of the whole issue was perfect when he was confronted about whether Seth was his boyfriend and he didn't lie or hedge or anything, just said yes. He redeemed himself a lot in my eyes.
I really liked when at one point Dino sees some strippers doing their thing and notices that none of them looked as if they enjoyed themselves. It always bugs me in books when it seems like a stripper's life is either glamorous or violent. I like that reality that it's a really sucky job.
The author uses this idiom correctly: "If he thinks...then he's got another think coming." So many people use it wrong and it drives me crazy. Brava!
The women were victims and a little blind to the dark side of others but at least they were strong, not wilting flowers, and one of them eventually (minor spoiler) became kind of kick ass.
The detective work is really well done and believable. Dino plods through the boring stuff (without boring the reader), covering all bases, and even when he's pretty sure a subject is innocent, he doesn't remove the person from the suspect list. He a good at his job.
Dino drinks amaretto on the rocks which is such a girly drink and doesn't fit his personality as a closeted Italian ex New York cop at all.
They don't recycle at all, even beer cans. We've been recycling those since childhood. Don't all people know about recycling by now? At least newspaper and aluminum cans?
They use the term "wifebeater" to describe those tacky, low-class undershirt tank tops. Yes, we immediately know what is being described, but it's really unacceptably callous to use that word in such an offhand way. It drives me crazy.
Seth's like a golden retriever, all hyper and expressive and full of emotion but like that dog, he doesn't strike me as an angry person. In fact, he's very easy going. So the fact that he allegedly gets into bar fights frequently and he's the one that throws the first punch is hard to believe.
At least three times, Dino referred to a little thrill or tingle running up his spine when he was about to catch a break or onto something good. Each time it sounded like this was new information.
There were some continuity errors and blocking issues such as when someone knows something she hasn't been told yet or when Dino is taking photos of the back license plate of a car and is aware of the face of the person in the driver's seat.
Overall this was a strong story with a mostly believable cast (minor spoiler) I'm not even going to think about the bookie
and an interesting if not earth-shattering mystery. The ending was good. I wish there had been a little more danger in the action, but I'm one who loves that kind of deathly peril type of stuff. Most people would be perfectly satisfied with the action and suspense. I'm eager to read the new short that was recently released.