Chocolate Mysteries From Penguin

Jun 6, 2015 | 2015 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Food Fun, Mysteryrat's Maze, Sandra Murphy

by Cynthia Chow
& Sandra Murphy

This week we have three fun chocolate mysteries! The Diva Steals a Chocolate Kiss by Krista Davis, Death of a Chocolate Cheater by Penny Pike, and Truffled to Death: A Chocolate Covered Mystery by Kathy Aarons. Details on how to win copies of all of these books at the end of this post, along with a link to purchase them.

The Diva Steals a Chocolate Kiss by Krista Davis
Review by Sandra Murphy

It’s party time as Amore Chocolates hosts a tasting in celebration of the company’s sixtieth year of providing the finest chocolates to its customers. Invitees have tickets, but it’s easier to let the occasional crasher in than to hold up guests as tickets are collected.

When it’s time for speeches, CEO Joe Merano is nowhere to be found. His absence is easily covered by family members, but it’s noticed by Sophie Winston, the evening’s planner. She knows there’s no way Joe would miss his own party.
Sophie’s got enough going on with visiting chocolatiers in town, but the body of a dead man is found in the guest house right on the heels of Joe’s disappearance. Just the night before, the drunken man had propositioned Sophie (and pretty much any other woman he met). So—is Joe the killer, a kidnap victim, or what? book

The Meranos are a dysfunctional family for sure. Coco and Mitch are married but in name only at this point in their lives. Mitch refuses to be divorced, citing his Catholic beliefs. On the other hand, those beliefs don’t prevent him from being with other women.

Sophie’s own life is not without complications. There’s Mars (her ex-husband), Natasha (former BFF, now husband thief), and Wolf (ex-boyfriend, now married to someone else but still yummy). Nina is Sophie’s current BFF, and then there’s Humphrey, a childhood friend. Somehow Sophie ends up acting as social director for all their lives. Alex, her new boyfriend, can’t figure out how she remains friendly with all these odd people (Alex is a lawyer; he likes things tidy). And there are dogs!

Natasha pictures herself as the next Martha Stewart but doesn’t have the skills, though she’s not lacking in imagination. Mars ends up at Sophie’s house often as not, just to get a good meal (Natasha can’t cook worth a darn). With all she has going on, it’s a wonder Sophie finds time to whip up the wonderful meals she’s known for.

Readers will have to pay attention as they read this delightful tale of chocolates, betrayal, and murder. False identities, misdirection, and more, pile on the clues that lead to a satisfying ending. The characters are fun and over the top, but are always people you’d want to hang out with—even Natasha, although you might want to slip her a couple of Valium.

This is the ninth in the series and you’ll want to read them all. Davis has also written two Paws and Claws mysteries.

Death of a Chocolate Cheater by Penny Pike
Review by Sandra Murphy

Rev up the food trucks, it’s time for the chocolate festival! Aunt Abby, her son Dillon, and niece Darcy are determined to win the $10,000 prize—and a chance to be on Food Network’s Chocolate Wars. Abby’s sure her recipe for chocolate raspberry whoopee pies will bring her fame and fortune.

Darcy’s not so sure. Of course, the whoopee pies are great, what’s not to love? And Darcy is appalled at some of the other entries. Really? Chocolate and cheese? Ice-cream cupcakes? A chocolate waterfall? Or chocolate mint pies?

Darcy knows something that Abby doesn’t: Jake, the Dream Puff guy, has entered the contest too. She’s tasted his mocha mousse cream puffs and almost swooned. Of course, the swooning part could be, in part at least, due to Jake himself. It might be time to move their relationship up a notch or two—just as soon as the festival is over. chocolatecheater

For two days, contestants will serve their concoctions to the public. On the third day, the judges will taste-test and declare a winner. Abby dated one of the judges back in the day, but before the festival even starts, he’s killed in a hit-and-run accident.

The show must go on! One of the judges, Polly Montgomery, once challenged a restaurant review Darcy wrote (back when she was a food critic, as opposed to a food truck helper for her Aunt Abby). The fact that the restaurant was owned by one of Polly’s exes didn’t escape Darcy’s notice. She can only hope Polly doesn’t see her and take revenge on Abby: Polly is the type to hold a grudge.

When Polly gets fall-face-first drunk at the opening ceremony, festival organizer Reina puts her into a cab and sends her home. It’s a shocker when Polly’s body is subsequently discovered in a vat of melted chocolate. How did she get back into the building and anywhere near the chocolate? Did she fall or was she pushed?

Detective Shelton, Abby’s current squeeze, is assigned to the case, which causes a conflict of interest—he says. It’s best if he and Abby don’t see each other until the case is solved. A quick arrest might fix that situation, except Abby’s sure he’s got the wrong person. Her friend Wendy (chocolate-covered candies) is innocent!

Polly was known to bribe and blackmail her way into whatever she wanted. She promised contestants her vote in exchange for a share of the winnings, snooped into their lives, and browbeat them with their own secrets—one didn’t go to culinary school as advertised, one protests labor practices in the harvest of chocolate but uses them himself, an inventor stole the idea…The only wonder about Polly’s death is why it didn’t happen sooner.

Of course, Darcy’s personal life has to take a hit, too. That’s in the form (and what a form!) of Layla, a local TV reporter and Jake’s ex-fiancée. She needs help with her divorce—of the very man she left Jake for. Darcy is sure Layla is plotting to get Jake back. It’s time to move the investigation into high gear. There are questions to be answered! Was the first judge’s death an accident? Likely. Who had motive? That’s easy: everyone. Who had opportunity? Too many people. Who had the strength to do the deed? That only rules out a couple of suspects.

Once again, Darcy, Abby, Dillon, and Jake manage to make and sell a ton of good food, snoop around, and bring a killer to justice. Dillon and Darcy are getting along better, so he’s able to be a big help with the snooping portion of the investigation. Jake, when he’s not being led around by Layla, is everything you could ask for in a boyfriend—tall, handsome, and he can bake. Abby—well, she’s unique. I’m so glad she’s taken up with Detective Shelton. The romance is good for both of them.

If reading the first book in the series, Death of a Crabby Cook, made you hungry, brace yourself. There are recipes at the back of the book from each of the contestants. Darcy says they tasted much better than they sounded! You’ll drool over every page (and over Jake, too).

As if that’s not enough, in January, Book Three will be out. Look forward to Death of a Bad Apple. I hear there will be salted caramel apple tarts. With all the food festivals around the country, I predict a long shelf life for the Food Festival mystery series.

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the arch, in the land of blues, booze and shoes—St Louis, Missouri. While writing magazine articles to support her mystery book habit, she secretly polishes two mystery books of her own, hoping, someday, they will see the light of Barnes and Noble. You can also find several of Sandra’s short stories on UnTreed Reads including her new one Bananas Foster. Sandy’s latest short story “The Tater Tot Caper” is one of eleven stories in The Killer Wore Cranberry: Fourths of Mayhem. The annual Thanksgiving anthology has eleven stories and this year, includes recipes. And it’s on sale! Available in all e-versions and in print.

Truffled to Death: A Chocolate Covered Mystery by Kathy Aarons
Review by Cynthia Chow

Having recently combined their chocolate and bookstore businesses into the unique Chocolate and Chapters, best friends Michelle and Erica are always looking for ways to carry their shop through to the busy Halloween and Christmas seasons. So they agree to host a reception honoring a donation of Mayan art to the Baltimore Museum of Man by the locally prominent River family. Unfortunately, museum curator Dr. Addison Moody more than lives up to his name, and when a valuable piece of art goes missing he immediately blames his former student, Erica. With Michelle’s high school nemesis Reese Everhard lambasting Erica’s reputation in a tabloid blog, Michelle feels that she has no choice but to discover who stole the priceless artifact and eventually resorted to murder.

bookThe eldest River matriarch laments that the Mayan art is cursed, and Michelle can’t argue the point, considering the turmoil surrounding it. She continues to create her Mayan-inspired handcrafted chocolate even as she learns more about the fascinating and controversial world of Mayan artifacts. Dr. Moody’s exploits as a professor have Michelle conflicted, as both she and Erica ponder the ethics of further victimizing his victims. Restraint seems to be the better part of valor as Michelle fears their assistant is making less-than-wise romantic decisions while defiantly insisting the topic is not open to discussion.

There are enough descriptions of delicate chocolate truffles and recipes to please any foodie, but the author delves even further into the exploration of the issues surrounding Mayan art and its trade. Michelle’s relationship with her crush—who also happens to be Erica’s brother—remains stalled by the journalistic investigation that requires him to lay low. The arrival of a vigilante art recoverer only complicates matters and heightens the suspense.

The author’s skillful writing succeeds in blending the cozy theme with an unexpectedly elaborate and very suspenseful plot. While the chocolate confections and recipes will satisfy the most discriminating of tastes, the real characters are the ones who wield a gluttonous amount of witty dialogue and fun.

To enter to win a copy of all 3 chocolate Penguins, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “chocolate,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 13, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.

Click on this link to purchase any of these books:

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Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

44 Comments

  1. Three great books…thanks for the chance to win them!

    Reply
    • Thanks for including my book! I can’t wait to read the others. It’ll be a chocolate marathon!

      Reply
  2. as always, a GREAT selection of books…….
    thank you for the giveaway……..

    Reply
  3. Chocolate and mysteries go hand in hand, at least they do at my house. Looking forward to reading all three of these books.

    Reply
  4. Hi, I would absolutely love to win these books! Awesome giveaway
    G

    Reply
  5. Three chocolate mysteries…heaven! Thanks for having this giveaway 🙂
    Debbie Price
    debprice60@gmail.com

    Reply
  6. Thanks for the chance!

    Reply
  7. What a wonderful giveaway! I love chocolate! Thank you for your generosity!

    Reply
  8. Thanks for the chance to win. These sound like a great read.

    Reply
  9. Would love to have these books. Thank you for the chance!

    Reply
  10. I love those yummy cozy mysteries !

    Reply
  11. Chocolate and mysteries. What a winning combination.

    Reply
  12. Thank you so much for the giveaway! The books sound fantastic!

    Reply
  13. Love all three of theses series! Cozies & chocolate, the perfect combination! Thanks for the giveaway! Fingers crossed!
    Scouts579 (at) aol (dot) com

    Reply
  14. Would love to win these awesome books! Love me some chocolate and mysteries!

    Reply
  15. These all sound great! Would love to have for summer reading.
    Thanks for the chance!

    Reply
  16. would love to win these fun chocolate novels

    Reply
  17. All three sound like great books I would love to win any of them. Thank you for the chance to do so!!

    Reply
  18. Thank you very much for a chance to win 🙂

    Reply
  19. Ohhhhh! Yummy chocolate!

    Reply
  20. i love chocolate and all books about it………..

    Reply
  21. These sound so good. Love cozy mysteries

    Reply
  22. Awesomeness! Thank You for the opportunity to win these great books, from fabulous authors!!

    Reply
  23. All of these books sound awesome! And all have chocolate! Yum! Thanks for the chance!

    Reply
  24. Yum! great lineup!

    Reply
  25. These chocolate mystery theme books are fantastic! I am looking forward to reading them. Thank you for the giveaway.
    myrifraf(at)gmail(dot)com

    Reply
  26. Wow three great books thank you very much for the giveaway.
    Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com

    Reply
  27. I’m craving chocolate after reading these reviews!

    Reply
  28. Yummy! 3 books filled with chocolate! Thanks for the chance to win.

    Reply
  29. Great giveaway!

    Reply
  30. I love chocolate and would love to win.

    Reply
  31. Oh, dear. CHOCOLATE!!! Everybody is going to want these!!!

    Reply
  32. If it has chocolate – it has to be good. All of the books sound interesting. There are so many series and so little time – and it’s hard to find the new series. these would give me a good start on some new series. thanks.
    txmlhl@yahoo.com

    Reply
  33. Will my butt look fatter if I read these books?

    Reply
  34. I can see how popular chocolate and mysteries are to this group. More importantly, this is a great group of authors. Count me in!

    Reply
  35. Having worked for The Hershey Company, chocolate is my middle name!! I’d love to win these cozies. Thx for the great opportunity.
    Lauigl [at] carolina [dot] rr [dot] com

    Reply
  36. Two of my favorites – chocolate and books! Would love to win!

    Reply
  37. We have a winner
    Lorie Ham, KRL Publisher

    Reply

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