Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Book Reviews: Six Sweets Under by Sarah Fox (True Confections Mysteries #1)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: The characters and setting shine
Cons: The plot could have been stronger
The Bottom Line:
Town grump turns up dead
Becca works to clear grandpa
In this mixed debut

This Debut Isn’t as Sweet as I’d Hoped For

I’ve been wanting to try one of Sarah Fox’s books for years since they’ve always sounded like fun to me.  It’s just another case of too many books not enough time.  So when I saw she was starting a new series, I jumped on Six Sweets Under.

This new series takes us to Larch Haven, Vermont, a tourist destination thanks to its canals and storybook cottages.  Becca Ransom has returned from Hollywood and settled back into her family’s chocolate shop where she is the chief chocolate maker.  She is loving being back and enjoying spending time with her family and closest friends again.

That is, until murder rears its ugly head.  Archie Smith is the local curmudgeon, although that might be an insult to curmudgeons.  He hates everyone and everything and isn’t afraid to let others know it, whether it’s the hiking path that a local group wants to reopen or the gondola races that are about to start, an annual event that is a big draw for tourists.

Still, everyone is surprised when Archie turns up floating in the canals.  At first, it looks like a tragic accident, but then the police determine it was murder.  It’s even more surprising when Becca’s grandpa winds up on the lists of suspects.  Can she piece together a few clues to clear his name?

Obviously, I love culinary cozies, so that was an immediate appeal to me.  And the chocolate sounds divine.  Those who drool like I did will be interested in the recipes at the end of the book.

Unfortunately, I found the mystery underwhelming.  It starts strong, but then it seems to move forward in fits and starts.  Becca spends more time theorizing with her best friend than she does getting solid information.  Yes, she does get enough clues to piece it together at the end, and I had a few of the pieces myself, but I wished things would have moved a little faster.

On the other hand, there was one sub-plot that didn’t go the way I expected it to, and in a good way.  I am not going to say any more about it other than to say I was especially impressed with Becca’s maturity in realizing how her own behavior had impacted the situation.

Then there are the characters.  I loved them.  Becca is a joy to spend time with, and I could feel the love she and the rest of the regulars have for each other.  Yes, even her brother, who she sometimes doesn’t see eye to eye with.  It felt like a realistic relationship to me.  The suspects aren’t given as much page time, but they worked for the way the mystery was presented.

And I absolutely loved the setting.  I’ve gotten into paddle boarding in the last year, and I was itching to take to the canals and the lake and really explore the location on my own.  Since Becca has a boat, I got to do that with her.    Larch Haven is a perfect cozy setting, and it will charm readers.

It’s a shame the mystery wasn’t stronger because the rest of Six Sweets Under worked for me.  I’m definitely willing to revisit Becca and the rest of the characters when the sequel comes out in a few months.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this a bit more than you did, Mark. But, I don't read nearly as many cozies as you do. I was so enamored with the small town in this series! (and the chocolate)


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