One of the things I enjoy the most in the reading of this book (and indeed, the series) is the chocolate trivia throughout. I admit to a weakness for recipes in mystery books, but this different twist is a nice touch. JoAnna Carl is the nom de plume for Eve K. Sandstrom, who writes mysteries set in Oklahoma, where she spends most of her time. In reality, Joanna/Eve lives a split life, spending time in both Oklahoma and Michigan (where she summers) where the Chocoholic Mysteries take place.*
The Chocolate Castle Clue continues the yummy story of Lee McKinney Woodyard and her to-die-for chocolatier shop, TenHuis Chocolade. The shop is actually owned by Lee’s Aunt Nettie, but Lee manages the day-to-day workings of the store as well as the creation of the divine goodies that are dispensed. Lee moved to (mythical) Warner Pier from Texas to help out her Aunt and has found herself happily ensconced in the western Michigan tourist town with great neighbors and friends.
Lee has come upon a decades-old trophy while cleaning out the storage room belonging to TenHuis. It belongs to Aunt Nettie and brings the past—including an old suicide/murder—to the forefront of Lee and Nettie’s lives. The trophy find seems timely, since a reunion is planned for the women who won the trophy 40-plus years earlier: the girl singing group called The Pier-O-Ettes. Finding the trophy and bringing old news to light is the impetus for a modern murder and revelations about old scandals. Can Lee, Nettie and TenHuis survive it?
This entry into the series is a great starting place if you have not read any others in the series. While it increases our knowledge of the characters in Warner Pier, the addition of the reunion attendees and the past mystery make it easy to read if you are a newbie in town. For JoAnna’s (or Eve’s!) fans, this is quite enjoyable, giving further understanding and appreciation of the cast of players in Warner Pier. Lee’s marriage to Joe has helped cement her to Warner Pier and makes her more of a “local” than she was before, as a Texan moving to the community.
The chocolate trivia in this book covers cities in the US that have a strong chocolate history (Hershey, PA, and Las Vegas, NV, among others).
The chocolate subplot is a tasty one, and eating chocolates while reading this is a must—if you can keep your sticky fingers off the pages! A classic cozy in that timeless tradition combined with small-town intimacy is the perfect recipe for a winter afternoon.
(To find out more about this split-location author, visit