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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Review - Death is Like a Box of Chocolates

This is a brand new series, so here is the scoop.  The author did a guest post for us just a few days ago (click here).  FYI, we are approaching the next Blog Carnival, so please submit your entries (click here).

Author: Kathy Aarons

Copyright: Sept 2014 (Berkley) 304 pgs

Series: 1st in A Chocolate Covered Mystery series

Sensuality: mild references

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy Mystery

Main Characters: Michelle Serrano, chocolatier

Setting: modern day, West Riverdale, MD

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Like many small town cozy stories, the town is preparing for a local event.  In this case it is the Memorial Day Great Fudge Cook-off.  The main character, Michelle, is in charge of this event during the Memorial Day weekend festivities.  The news that Hillary Punkin, a celebrity pastry chef from a cable cooking network has Michelle nervous, since Hillary can make or break her business with a one word.  

In the midst of the preparations, a local photographer, Denise, on the brink of her career taking off with a Washington D.C. gallery showing is found dead in Michelle's chocolate shop, apparently poisoned from a box of Michelle's chocolates.  Michelle is fighting to keep her business afloat, so she and her business partner Erica begin their own investigation.  Yet, the Mayor and town businesses are rabid to have a successful Memorial Day celebration since they need the tourist business they anticipate.  

Side stories are Erica's old high school flame and why they are still angry with each other after all these years, and Michelle getting warm and fuzzy feelings around Erica's brother, a world renowned reporter home visiting.

Michelle, curious but skittish, she feels most comfortable when she is making chocolate and is mortified when having to do a cousin's x-rated chocolates for her bachelorette party.  Erica, the level headed and driven business partner and room mate. She is an integral part of the story and in some ways she is as much a main character as Michelle.  Officer Bobby, Erica's high-school sweetheart who may/may not be pining for Erica is an interesting character.  Leo, Michelle's brother and an Afghanistan war vet missing a leg.  So much potential with this character and I really hope Leo gets more page time!  Benjamin "Bean" Russel, Michelle's childhood crush and Erica's brother who is the well known reporter and newly a published author.  At least he isn't the cliche cop boyfriend. Of course, there is a question as to how long he will stick around and if he is an adrenaline junkie reporter.  Finally there is Reese, a local blog reporter who has had a grudge against Michelle since high school and keeps implicating Michelle as the killer on her blog.

The setting of West Riverdale seems like most any other small town, except it is somewhat close to D.C.  So it doesn't do much more than be the backdrop.  The plot is on par for a cozy...what could a local photographer have done to get killed?  The pacing was steady with multiple suspects and the investigation, Michelle in danger, and the subplots sprinkled throughout. The climax had a twist regarding the killer, which I only partially got right. The wrap up was short but endearing.

This debut novel for a new cozy mystery series combines chocolate, books, murder, and sweet romance in a small town.  What's not to love?

Ratings:  Excellent - A fun read, I enjoyed it!

Here is a decorative idea to celebrate fall, a colorful leaf monogram wreath for your door.  Find out how to make this (click here.)

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