Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Book Review: Death of a Chocolate Cheater by Penny Pike (Food Festival Mysteries #2)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great characters, twists and turns
Cons: A tad slow to get started
The Bottom Line:
Chocolate contest
But who would murder a judge?
Delicious and fun

Chocolate Contest Worth Killing For

One of my favorite books from last year was the first in Penny Pike’s new Food Festival Mysteries.  The instant I finished it, I started counting the days until I could read Death of a Chocolate Cheater, the follow up.  I’m delighted to say it was just as much fun as the original.

San Francisco’s annual Chocolate Festival is coming up, and Darcy Burnett’s Aunt Abby has concocted the perfect recipe for the annual contest.  Her Chocolate Raspberry Whoopie Pies are sure to be the hit of the festival.  Not that the competition will be easy since several other great chefs are entering, including Jake Miller, with a delicious Chocolate Mocha Mousse Cream Puff.

At the gala reception the night before the festival opens, Darcy is trying to stir clear of Polly Montgomery, one of the judges.  They have a rocky past, and Darcy doesn’t want it to hurt Aunt Abby’s chances.  However, everyone sees Polly a when she tries to climb up on a table and makes a huge drunken scene.  A little while later, she shows up again - dead.  When one of Abby’s oldest friends is arrested for the crime, Darcy begins to ask questions to try to find the killer.  But with the other contestants and Vic’s fellow judges all having motive, can Darcy solve the crime?

This series is fun because of the characters.  Darcy’s supporting crew includes her cousin, a hacker, as well as her aunt and fellow food truck owner/contestant Jake, her love interest.  They don’t feel like the normal supporting players, and the chemistry the group has makes me smile.  We get to know them better here, and I liked what I saw even more.  The suspects are just as colorful and real.

I will admit the plot started out a little slowly this time around, but it got strong quickly and got stronger as it went along.  The twists were coming so fast in the final 100 pages that I had a very hard time putting it down to get back to work when my lunch hour and breaks were over.  The killer was logical, yet I didn’t figure it out before Darcy did.  I did feel the romantic complication didn’t add much to the story, but again, it was a very minor issue.

The book will definitely leave your mouth watering for chocolate.  Fortunately, the recipes for the chocolate treats that all the main characters and suspects entered in the competition are included in the back of the book.  Try not to drool as you read them.  It’s hard.

Another thing I love about this book is the pop culture references.  Aunt Abby is a huge Disney fan (as am I), and the trailer where Darcy is living is decked out in all kinds of Disney stuff.  There are also references to Murder, She Wrote and other things I’ve enjoyed over the years.  While not a big part of the book, they are the chocolate frosting on what is already a great book.

So my complaints with this book are truly small issues.  Overall, Death of a Chocolate Cheater is another page turning read with characters you can’t help but love.  I’m already anxiously waiting for San Francisco’s next food festival.

NOTE: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy of this book to give away.  Because it is a physical book, the contest is limited to residence of the US.

Leave me a comment with your e-mail address so I can get in touch with you.  I will pick the winner next Tuesday, June 9th, so please leave your comment before 12:01AM on 6/9.


  1. I'm not sure how I missed this series..... I would love to win a copy! Thank you!
    afarage (at) earthlink. net

  2. I enjoyed the first book in this series and am looking forward to this one. Wonderful - wacky - characters.

  3. This one sounds really cute but what really got me was the Murder She Wrote references! I've been watching that on Netflix lately and loving it. I'm so glad the killer was logical. I hate getting to the end of a mystery and thinking "Huh? That makes no sense!". Thanks for hosting a giveaway! katherine.e.ptts(at)gmail.com

  4. Thanks for the kind review, Mark! I hope everyone wins a copy!

  5. I loved the first book, and from what you just wrote it looks like I will be loving this one too.
    momzillasteel at gmail dot com

  6. Well, they that the third try is the charm, so I'll try this yet again.
    The book sounds great and chocolate mysteries are always a winner! Thanks for the giveaway as well as your reviews. mtrver at gmail dot com

  7. This sounds like a book I would like to read. I may have to buy the first one of the series if I win this one. Thanks for the contest.

  8. I haven't read in this series yet but your review sounds like I need to.
    please enter me.
    Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com

  9. I enjoyed the first one. Glad to read that this one is just as good.

    gibsonbk at hiwaay dot net


  11. I would love to win!

    ElaineE246 at msn dot com

  12. I love reading all the comments! Hope you enjoy the book as much as you enjoy chocolate!

  13. This is a new author for me. Would love to win a copy.


  14. This sounds like a wonderful read, would like to give author a try!

  15. Sounds like a great series. Would love to try it!

  16. I love Penny's series. I have this in my to be read pile - as soon as I can find a copy. Karen94066 at aol dot com

  17. Based on your review, I am sure I would enjoy this giveaway. Thanks. Judy D.

  18. Forgot my email. Judy D.
    judydee22002 at yahoo dot com


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