Sunday, March 3, 2013

Book Review: Chocolate Dipped Death by Sammi Carter (Candy Shop Mysteries #2)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: A strong main character
Cons: Lose ends, timing issues
The Bottom Line:
Abby makes up for
Some issues with the story
Overall, it's good

When Good Chocolate Goes Bad

The Annual Confectionary Competition has become a staple of winter in the small town of Paradise, Colorado. Abby Shaw is doing her best to carry on the tradition. As the new owner of the candy shop Divinity, it is her responsibility to run the weekend. Things are running okay until Savannah Horne arrives.

Savannah hasn't been in town since high school, but memories are long in Paradise. When she was here, she made life miserable for everyone. Twenty years later, Abby thinks that Savannah might have changed, but the rest of the town isn't ready to forgive.

When Savannah wins the first night of the contest, Evie Rice is furious. The two women used to fight over everything in high school, and neither is quite ready to let the old rivalry go.

The next morning, however, Savannah disappears. After a day of searching, Abby finds her body. The list of suspects is long, including the obvious like Evie and Savannah's sister, who is hardly upset at her sibling's death.

Also on the suspect list is Abby's cousin Karen. Karen has been acting rather strange since Savannah showed up the first night and the evidence seems to keep pointing to her. While Abby had no intention of getting involved, she quickly determines that she will have to find the real killer to keep her cousin out of jail. Abby's resolve is only reinforced when the case takes a very personal turn.

Meanwhile, tensions in Abby's family are brewing over Divinity. Abby inherited the shop from her aunt, and some of the cousins think they had more of a right to own the shop. Can Abby keep the peace and the store?

This is the second book in the series, and another good light read. The plot did seem to bog down a little during the search for Savannah phase since it's obvious to the reader what the outcome will be. But once the body is found, things kick into high gear. The story weaves all over the place with one red herring after another until Abby finally puts everything together. While at first I thought the ending was great, the more I've thought about it, there are several loose ends that were left unresolved in the rush to finish things.

In the first book, Abby was struggling with her recent divorce and seemed a bit harsh at times. She's really smoothed out here and is a very likable heroine. The family story lines are interesting and add depth to the story and Abby. I'm interested to see where the author goes with these plot lines.

My biggest gripe is a matter of timing. There are several times when Abby seems to live through the same time twice, having left the shop in late afternoon to run errands then stopping for her third errand at 2 PM, for example. This is something that really bugs me, and it happened several times. It doesn't affect the timeline of the overall story, but it did pull me out of an otherwise well written book.

The inclusion of six candy recipes will just be icing on the cake for readers with a sweet tooth.

While not perfect, the character of Abby makes Chocolate Dipped Death a good read.

Be sure to check out the rest of the Candy Shop Mysteries in order.

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