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Chocolate Covered Murder by Leslie Meier

I like food-themed mysteries.  Not sure what that says about my tastes, but I usually find that they are fun, fast reads.  Meier’s latest in her Lucy Stone Mystery series, “Chocolate Covered Murder” is no exception.  The only disappointment is she did not include the recipe for Lucy’s prize-winning Maple Blueberry Cheesecake in the book. (I’ll have to check Meier’s website to see if she’s posted it there.)

I really like Meier’s protagonist, Lucy Stone.  She’s a small town weekly newspaper reporter and someone who gets to know everyone who comes to town and knows everything that goes on in town.  She’s the kind of character that the reader comes to hang out with every time a new book comes out to enjoy a not-so-taxing read.  In this book Lucy is helped out of a snow-covered ditch by one of the town’s life-long residents and shortly after Lucy discovers that the same man drowned when he fell through the ice in a pond. He had a fish hook caught in his lip.  Lucy suspects foul play, but the police rule it an accidental drowning.  The former wife of the man is one of the owners of Fern’s Famous Fudge, a candy shop that has been a fixture in Tinker’s Cove for years.

There’s a new chocolate shop in town, Chanticleer Chocolates, that is billing its product as the “best candy on the coast.”  The two shops go head-to-head for the Valentine’s Day business and the newspaper, “The Pennysaver” is stuck squarely in the middle.  Most of the townsfolk square off with most of the women supporting Fern’s business and most of the men supporting Chanticleer, mostly because of its bombshell of a store manager, Tamzin Graves.  The big boss of Chanticleer is Trey Meacham, a new businessman to the area, who manufacturers all of the chocolates in an old converted factory in a town nearby.  His business acumen is undeniable, but some of the townspeople discover he may not share all the same interests and values as the regular folk.

There are two deaths that occur in the book that Lucy decides to solve with the help of an Army Major who comes into town late in the story with some information on Tamzin that helps to break open the case.

Chocolate Covered Murder” is an enjoyable, fast read for anyone who loves a cosy mystery set in a quaint New England town.

Liz Nichols

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The Chocolate Pirate Plot by JoAnna Carl

This is the 12th in JoAnna Carl’s “A Chocoholic Mystery” series. Carl is the pseudonym for a mystery writer who lives and writes in both Oklahoma and Michigan.

The author has invented a rollicking tale about a band of mischievous and ultimately, deadly, buccaneers who board yachts and other pleasure boats near Warner Pier, a summer resort along Lake Michigan’s eastern shore. The pirates begin by boarding Lee and Joe Woodyard’s craft one summer evening and put on a surprise performance. As hard as they try, the Woodyard’s cannot figure out who these pirates are– until a dead body is found near shore. Lee decides to help the local police investigate and she turns up the heat on the pirate crew.

Lee is bothered by the fact that just prior to the search for the body an actress from the local theater runs past 5 houses to get to Lee in order to alert her that her friend is missing on the beach. Ironically, the body found is not the body of her friend. What’s up with that?

After it is discovered that the dead body is a technician at the local summer theater, Lee and Joe are threatened with gunshots and other attempts to board their boat. Other boats also experience surprise boardings, but no one else is threatened until after Lee gets close to solving the mystery. Part of the plot is the discovery that a famous actor who portrays a pirate in movies is in town to collect his new yacht. (Not Johnny Depp, but rather Depp-like.)

The author does a good job of creating interesting characters. I’d like to get to know Lee better, find out more about her aunt’s chocolate business, and spend more time exploring western Michigan through this series. I’ll be reading more of this series to catch up with this interesting cast of characters.

Liz Nichols

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