"I am the mystery bookseller at Rainy Day Bookstore in Fairway, Kansas. I just finished reading MURDER AT THE MISTLETOE BALL. I really enjoyed it especially the Italian written as chapter headings and throughout the book. Since this is my first J.D. Griffo I was pleasantly surprised and can't wait to share with our customers. Cozies are so underrated. This one had a smart character driven story with a surprising mystery."
Becci West, Rainy Day Books, Kansas
Ferrara Family Mystery Series
Murder on Memory Lake (Book 1)
“This is the first book in a new series and what a start it was. I loved this loud, boisterous, sassy Italian family. When Alberta Scaglione’s spinster aunt dies, she leaves her niece her lake house and money in Tranquility, NJ. Alberta is a widow and her children are grown, so she’s happy to start a new phase of her life. Moving to the house on Memory Lake Alberta expected to have a nice peaceful place to retire but what she didn’t expect was to walk out and see a body floating in the lake. Just as the local law arrives so does Alberta’s granddaughter, Jinx. Jinx is a reporter and when she pitches an investigation to her boss, he shuts her down. Alberta and Jinx decide they will work together to solve the mystery of who killed Lucy Agostino, Alberta’s childhood nemesis.
This is a fun cozy mystery story. With the big Italian family, quirky characters (one of her sisters is a nun who left the convent) and the small town atmosphere, I wanted to head off to Tranquility to meet up with them all. Alberta and Jinx, the two main characters, bicker with each other as well as other characters, while loving each other unconditionally. Alberta is intelligent and feisty while Jinx is a capable reporter and amateur sleuth. As the story unfolds there are a few suspects, some red herrings, some twists and turns that left me guessing. This book had a lot of character building, so the mystery sometimes seemed to take a back seat to the craziness of the family, but that was okay, because I enjoyed the quirkiness. The final reveal was not on my radar and was a bit out there, but it fit with the rest of the story. I listened to this book and my only complaint was the Italian phrase at the opening to each chapter. I did not know what the phrases meant and it was not translated in the story. The narrator did a great job with the various voices, especially the Italian voices. I felt like I was right there listening to the characters. Overall I enjoyed this book and am looking forward to my next visit with The Ferrara Family.”
– GRATEFUL GRANDMA
“Life is anything but serene for a widow making a new life for herself in Tranquility, New Jersey.Alberta Ferrara Scaglione has precious few kind memories of her life as a wife and mother in New Jersey. She didn’t quarrel with her late husband, Sammy, but she never really loved him either. Her daughter, Lisa Marie Scaglione Maldonado, is another story. Alberta and Lisa Marie fought likes cats and dogs until the Maldonado family finally moved to Florida—”and not the fun part,” as Lisa Marie’s daughter, Jinx, points out, but the landlocked burg of Eufala. So Alberta considers it more or less her due when her elderly Aunt Carmela leaves her a home on beautiful Memory Lake in the idyllic town of Tranquility. Her life gets even better when Jinx, having dutifully attended Chipola College, near her Florida home, high-tails it back to the Garden State, where she gets a job at the Upper Sussex Herald. Only one cloud shadows the grandma-granddaughter reunion: the body of Alberta’s childhood frenemy, Lucy Agostino, floating practically outside Alberta’s front door. But even this cloud is silver-lined. The search for Lucy’s killer provides the perfect excuse for Alberta and Jinx to bond. Supported by Alberta’s sharp-tongued ex-nun sister, Helen, and their sister-in-law Joyce, grandma and Jinx do what feisty women everywhere do best: solve a murder.Griffo launches a series with something for everyone: eager young newshounds, well-seasoned sleuths, and a stash of Italian recipes (some gluten-free) to boot.“
– KIRKUS REVIEWS
“Move over Jessica Fletcher and Jane Marple, there’s a new old widowed/spinster sleuth in town. And she’s just as feisty, nosy, and independent as the rest. The difference is she’s Italian.
Alberta Scaglione, planned and spending her golden years free of care, but after her husband dies and leaves her a pennyless widow. She isn’t looking forward to them. That is until she gets a call and realizes that her spinster aunt has left her her her house on the lake, in the small town of Tranquility New Jersey. Everything is all but tranquil until the body of Alberta’s childhood nemesis is found in the pond out back.
It’s a great first book with lots of great characters and a good setting. The mystery was great too and I loved figuring it out.”
Murder in Tranquility Park (Book 2)
“Murder in Tranquility Park is just as much fun as Murder on Memory Lake, the first book in this series. The Ferrara Family are a hoot. A huge Italian family who stick together through thick and thin. After solving a murder, they have decided that they are a detecting agency and are all set to solve other crimes. I love Alberta and her granddaughter Jinx. They are great friends as well as relatives. Jinx has convinced Alberta to start taking care of herself, so out running one morning they stumble upon their next case. In Tranquility Park, under a tree house, they find a body. It looks like he died from an accidental fall, but Alberta’s great observation skills open up the very real possibility that it was a murder.
I love how Alberta, her sister Helen, sister-in-law Joyce and Jinx all work together when there’s a murder. This family is quite interesting as well as smart. You have a reporter, ex-nun, and a lawyer. They are a quirky group, and are they tenacious. In this book, Jinx’s boyfriend Freddy and Alberta’s boyfriend Sloan also get involved in the investigation. We meet some new characters as well as some familiar ones. Police Chief, Vinnie, once again allows the Ferrara family some leeway in investigating. When he was young, Alberta babysat him, so they had a relationship from the past. The plot was well-developed and the pace was quite quick. I was pretty sure I had figured out who the murderer was, but with one final twist, I was blown out of the water. The ending was quite tense and surprising. Having said all that, I really enjoyed this story. This was a very quick read that I enjoyed right from the beginning. If you enjoy a cozy with quirky characters, a quick story with a great mystery and ending, then pick up this book or the first in the series. I am sure you will enjoy it. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.”
– GRATEFUL GRANDMA
“This is the second book in the Ferrara Family Detective Agency series and it’s just as enjoyable as the first one. Alberta, aged 64, lives in the house left to her (for reasons unknown) by her aunt, along with a very large chunk of change. She is settling in well in this small New Jersey town, one she knew well growing up. Now she, along with her sister, Helen (a former nun – why she left is her secret), Joyce, her sister-in-law (a larger than life flamboyant lady) and last, but not least, Alberta’s 20 something granddaughter Jinx. All of these wonderful women are starting a new chapter in their lives and have found that they have a knack for investigation and solving murders. Vinnie is the chief of police and is a childhood friend of Alberta. He resorts to, shall we say, raising his voice often when dealing with this gang but he does have respect for their insight. He just worries a lot that they will come to harm while snooping all over town.
Jinx has talked Alberta into getting into shape by jogging three days a week. The only thing Alberta finds as a plus in this endeavor is how much she really likes her new sports bra – no more underwires for her. On the morning of their 1 1/2 mile jog to the park and back homicide joins them. As they pass by a huge old tree, Alberta, for the first time, notices there is a tree house 10 feet up in the tree and no ladder. One the way back, they stumble upon the body of Jonas, a local drunk and it would appear that he fell out of the tree house. Alberta and Jinx see it otherwise, call in the rest of the ladies and then she calls Vinnie. Jinx goes into reporter mode, hoping that her boss at the local newspaper will let her cover the story without her having to beg for it. Alberta starts gathering clues that point to murder. The killer didn’t figure on the victim being found by Alberta and with her keen eye and sharp mind.
This series has found its place on my list of must read mysteries. It has a well crafted mystery, multi faceted characters and just enough real life and humor to balance it out. Now I have to wait – eagerly – for the next mystery, Murder at Icicle Lodge, coming out November 26, 2019.”
– SUSAN E.
Murder at Icicle Lodge (Book 3)
“This is the 3rd in series and a perfect Holiday theme read ! I love the setting, the mystery and the charcters. I have read the previous in series and always enjoy returning to this series. Thank you for the advance reading copy to the publisher and to Net Galley. My review opinions are my own..
I was very impressed right away that this reminded me of Dame Agatha Christie and her winter time mysteries.. This is the perfect setting of a mysterious luxury lodge in the snow during the holiday time. I love the descriptions of the various charcters staying at the lodge and the accommodations.
Alberta tags along with her Granddaughter when she has a gig at a luxury lodge with her Aunt and Alberta’s sister in law as company. Soon after they arrive celebrity guest Pamela Gregory is found murdered on the ice skating rink. To make matters worse, a terrible snow blizzard leaves everyone trapped at the lodge. Now Alberta and her Granddaughter and her sisters must find out what happened and hope to solve the mystery before another murder occurs. Tempers flare among the guests with everyone snowbound as the investigation continues.
I love this sleuth with all the differing characters among the perfect murder setting. This was enjoyable to read cover to cover and I look forward to the next in series. Very well done to the author.“
– COZY CAT REVIEWS
Murder at Veronica's Diner (Book 4)
“Four feisty New Jersey women investigate the death of a waitress.
They have no office. They have no staff. They don’t really have any clients. But none of that stops the ladies of the Ferrara Family Detective Agency from detecting their tiny town of Tranquility to within an inch of its previously quiet life. This time, a corpse turns up literally at their feet: As they munch their eggs Benedict (regular for sisters Alberta and Helen and their sister-in-law, Joyce Perkins Ferrara; vegan for Alberta’s granddaughter, Jinx Maldonado) at Veronica’s Diner, waitress Teri Jo Linbruck emerges from the rest room with a knife in her back. Local cop Vinny D’Angelo doesn’t even bother warning them not to investigate, so the women go to town, again literally. After they discover that Teri Jo is actually Theresa Josefina Rizzoli, Helen hauls them all out to Brooklyn to see what they can find out about the late server at Rizzoli’s Diner, her family’s business. They find out enough to talk private pilot Owen O’Hara, who owns Tranqclockery, the clock-repair business next door to Veronica’s, into flying them down to Henderson, Texas, where Teri’s brother, Dominic, is engaged in some shady business for Third Wheel, Inc., the company that owns Godfather’s Diner, the precursor to Veronica’s. As the corpses pile up, Alberta keeps on the trail, eventually risking not only her own life, but that of her boyfriend, Sloan McLelland. But it’s hard to get mad at Alberta or at any of the Ferraras, who are so game you can’t help rooting for them.
Like the heroines’ favorite eggs Benedict, not hard-boiled but tasty.“
– KIRKUS REVIEWS
“Although Alberta Scaglione is an excellent cook, the Ferrara women enjoy breakfast out together. Alberta, her sister Helen, her granddaughter Jinx, and her sister-in-law Joyce all meet at Veronica’s Diner in Tranquility, NJ, but breakfast isn’t so tranquil. Their waitress, Teri Jo, is frazzled, so busy that she asks the women to deliver a box for her. They’re about to ask for the check when Teri Jo falls at their feet with a butcher knife in her back. Although they all know Police Chief Vinny D’Angelo, they also know the Ferrara family detective agency has its next case. Helen, a former nun, had bonded with Teri Jo, and she’s determined to find her killer. But Teri Jo was connected to a corrupt, and possibly deadly, Italian family. An uproarious investigation ensues as the women sneak through alleys, meet a hardened criminal at Riker’s Island, and stow away on a private jet. VERDICT It’s Janet Evanovich’s Grandma Mazur times four when the “direct, loud, demanding, impatient, and tactless” women get together for their fourth case (after Murder at Icicle Lodge). Fans of Stephanie Plum’s adventures might want to sample the escapades of four Italian American women in New Jersey.”
—Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN
Murder at St. Winfred's Academy (Book 5)
“Murder strikes an amateur production of Arsenic and Old Lace—and not just those corpses stashed in the Brewster sisters’ basement.
Millionaire Alberta Ferrara Scaglione’s granddaughter, Upper Sussex Herald reporter Jinx Maldonado, has wonderful news. No, it’s not that her boyfriend has finally popped the question. It’s that her roommate, Nola Kirkpatrick, artistic director of the Tranquility Players, has persuaded a major Hollywood star to headline her new production of Arsenic and Old Lace. Or at least a former star, since childhood sweetheart Missy Michaels has been out of the spotlight since she gave Shirley Temple a run for her money 60 years ago. As “Missymania” settles over Tranquility and environs, members of Alberta’s family circle rush to claim roles in the play without auditioning. Her sister, Helen Ferrara, calls dibs on the second Brewster sister, and Father Sal DeSoto is cast as Teddy Brewster. But the production, directed by Nola’s boyfriend, Johnny Fenn, doesn’t provide a comeback for Missy after all because she’s murdered before the curtain goes up. Even though she’s clutching a bottle of arsenic in her dead hand, she’s been strangled, and Alberta promptly convenes Helen, Jinx, and Alberta’s sister-in-law Joyce Ferrara to investigate. There’s so much drama among the continuing cast that the poor suspects, mainly Johnny Fenn and leading man Kip Flanigan, have to clamor for attention. No matter how many complications follow, fans of the family will be relieved to know that the opening-night cast, heavy with substitutes, gets “more bravos than Patti LuPone and Nathan Lane had ever received.”
The vibe, as usual, is that of a family gathering complete with amateur theatricals and homicide.”
– KIRKUS REVIEWS