This book was not good for my diet! JoAnna Carl has done it again, though--a fun romp through the small town of Warner Pier. Complete with the requisite small-town gossip, the small-town residual hippie and delicious chocolate trivia, Carl takes the reader into the mythical chocolate store, TenHuis Chocolade, and we meet her latest employee, the charming hippie grandchild Sissy Smith. Sissy (nee Forsythia) has had a hard time of it. Her husband was murdered under strange circumstances, and Sissy’s father-in-law wants custody of her son.
The usual characters are assembled, although protagonist/chocolatier Lee McKinney Woodyard’s usual sidekicks seem to be less present than usual. Lee hires Sissy because she hates the gossip and the personal attacks against the young woman, who has a solid alibi for her husband’s murder. But did Lee get more than she bargained for? She is clever and attentive to detail, but will that make her the next victim before she can help the young bookkeeper get off the hook, and keep the bitter father-in-law from finishing up his custodial battle?
Carl’s books are diverting and enjoyable, although they can be formulaic. The chocolate history is actually a welcome relief from too many recipes that we all know we will never try--and although a great fudge recipe is included, it is a fairly common one. The characters are well-drawn, and the dimensions of Lee Woodyard’s personality increase in depth as the series grows and continues. The dozen or so books in this series continue to move forward, which, to this reviewer, is always a plus, since one likes to see the characters change and mature. It is always gratifying to know that unlike poor Agatha Christie,
who started out with two elderly characters (Poirot and Miss Marple), Carl’s protagonist will age realistically along with the series and provide us, hopefully, with many more years of chocolate and well-crafted mysteries.