Monday, June 24, 2013

Book Review: The Chocolate Castle Clue by JoAnna Carl (Chocoholic Mysteries #11)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Enjoyable story and fun characters
Cons: None for me but may be too light for some
The Bottom Line
Mystery from the past
Causes murder in present
In this fun entry

Reunion with Murder

While all the books I read would be considered light, some are lighter than others.  The Chocoholic Mysteries are certainly among the lightest.  The series stars Lee Woodyard, an accountant who has moved to the resort town of Warner Pier, Michigan to help her Aunt Nettie run the family chocolate business.  Of course, this small town isn’t that safe, since The Chocolate Castle Clue is the eleventh murder Lee has investigated since moving to town.

TenHuis Chocolade has been using a garage near their downtown Warner Pier store for storage, but a new owner wants it back, so Lee finds herself cleaning it out.  While doing that, she discovers a trophy and other memorabilia from her aunt’s days in a singing group called the Pier-O-Ettes.  Lee hadn’t even known about this part of Aunt Nettie’s past until Nettie started planning a reunion for the group.

Figuring that Nettie and the others would like to see this stuff, Lee takes it by the reunion.  But the response to the trophy is odd.  One of the members even screams when she sees it.  That’s when Lee learns that the restaurant/hang out where they won it was closed after the owner died under mysterious circumstances.  Now, 45 years later, the owner’s widow also dies under mysterious circumstances.  Can Lee piece together how these two deaths are related?

Now, when I call this series light, I don’t mean in terms of the plot.  The story is almost always strong in these books, and this one is no exception.  Each piece of the puzzle Lee uncovers just leaves us with more questions until things finally come together at the end.  The book is short, and the author doesn’t waste time, which means the twists come quickly.

The characters are also well developed.  Lee, Nettie, and the rest of the cast of regulars are familiar to fans of the series, and they are true to form here.  The suspects are fairly well developed, too.  Obviously, some are more real than others, but I felt like I had a handle on all of them early on.  In fact, there is a rather large cast introduced here, but I had no trouble keeping them all straight as the book progressed.

So why do I consider this series among the lightest of the lightest I read?  For starters, the book length means they are fast reads.  I can be done with them in just a few days, which makes me happy when I am dying to find out what in the world is happening.  For another, while there is plenty of danger, there is little in the way of actual violence.  That aspect is kept to a minimum.  Plus, there’s actually a sub-plot with Lee and her new husband here that is probably the most serious thing the book has tackled yet.  These books are meant to be fun entertainment, and at that they absolutely succeed.

So if you want something serious, look elsewhere.  But if you want to be entertained by a good story and endearing characters for a few hours, check out The Chocolate Castle Clue.

After that, you'll want to nibble on the rest of the Chocoholic Mysteries in order.

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