Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Book Review: First-Degree Fudge by Christine DeSmet (Fudge Shop Mysteries #1)

Stars: 2 out of 5
Pros: Fast moving plot, recipes, supporting cast
Cons: Gaping plot hole, Ava
The Bottom Line:
The giant plot hole
And Ava’s actions ruined
Book I hoped to like

Fudged Up Debut

It’s funny how life works sometimes.  Exactly a month ago, I was in Wisconsin for the first time for a friend’s wedding.  Then a couple weeks later, I heard about First-Degree Fudge, the first in a new cozy series centered on a fudge maker.  The setting?  The shores of Lake Michigan in Door County, Wisconsin.  Between the cozy hook (I love fudge.  Who doesn’t?) and the setting, I made this a must read book.

Ava Oosterling is moving back to her hometown of Fisher Point, Wisconsin.  She’s started making and selling fudge, sharing space with her grandfather in his bait shop right on Lake Michigan.

Ava is working on creating specialty flavors, and is hoping her latest, Cinderella Pink Fudge, will be a hit with Rainetta Johnson, the visiting actress who will then help spread the word about it.  However, before the fundraiser the actress is in town for can even start, Rainetta is found dead with a piece of Cinderella Pink Fudge in her mouth.  But the bigger surprise is when a diamond is also found in Rainetta’s mouth.  How did the diamond get in Ava’s fudge?  With the sheriff investigating her and her family, can Ava prove she is innocent?

The book started strongly with Rainetta dying early and Ava jumping in to investigate.  While I did find Ava annoying at times, I loved many of the supporting characters and was willing to overlook that.  And the plot was moving forward at a steady pace.

And then we hit the half way point.

About that time, there was a twist that created a giant hole in the plot.  I could certainly understand why Ava didn’t catch that hole right away, however, I expected her to pick up on it at some point.  There were several conversations that would have lead her to realize it, but she never made the connection I did.

Furthermore, Ava’s immediate reaction to this twist was to do something so incredibly stupid that any sheriff would arrest her for obstruction of justice.  I know, I know, this is a cozy.  I regularly ignore that fact in the others I read.  But come on, this was so idiotic.  Furthermore, she had her best friend get involved.

From that point, it was hard to ignore Ava’s selfishness and recklessness.  Couple that with her fatalism, and I was ready for the book to be over.

Really, it is Ava and her actions that I didn’t like.  I actually did love the supporting cast and would enjoy seeing them again.  But Ava was too annoying a main character to read any more books.

There are three fudge recipes in the back (shocking, I know).  While I’m still not sure about the Cinderella Pink Fudge (white chocolate and cherry), the others sound good enough to try.

While I wasn’t in Door County when I was in Wisconsin, I was probably an hour away, so I did enjoy the setting.  It reminded me of the fun I had last month, and it made me want to go back to hang out with those friends all over again.  There were several references to things that are uniquely Wisconsin that I wouldn’t have picked up on before the trip, but I had to smile at now.

But in the end, it wasn’t enough to rescue this debut.  I wanted to like it.  Really, I did.  But First-Degree Fudge will be the last book I read by this author.


  1. Just hate when there is a gapping plot hole and then for the MC to do something idiotic and turn the reader off. I've actually not finished books after slow starts or something idiotic appearing fairly early on. I refuse to read something you already can figure out in the beginning or where the reader is smarter than the MC who should be pretty smart in my book since they are the person who is carrying the story.

    Thanks for giving us your review and allowing us to see what's wrong with the story. E :)

    Elysabeth Eldering
    Author of Finally Home, a Kelly Watson, YA paranormal mystery

    1. I tend to stick out poor books until the bitter end so I can review them. But I've hit two cozies in a row that were disappointing. I may have to start rethinking my strategy.

    2. I'm almost finished with this book, I had been looking forward to it cause - fudge - who doesn't love it? But you are right, the MC is just awful and that plot twist is probably the most STUPID ever - and I've read a couple thousand cozies. I can't believe the editor didn't point this out? I see there is a second title coming, not sure if I give it a try to see if there is an improvement.

    3. It is so nice to know I'm not alone in this. I wish the book were better because, as you said, who doesn't love fudge?

  2. I wanted to like this one - but I agree Ava ruined the book and her actions were really unconscionable. Also, I had issue with the character of Cody and his disability - and some of his "stalking type" behavior that was not dealt with appropriately.