Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Chocolate Jewel Case - JoAnna Carl

The Chocolate Jewel Case
A Chocoholic Mystery
JoAnna Carl


Life as newlyweds is hardly bliss for Lee and Joe Woodyard. Just three months into their marriage, they’re contending with a home remodeling project and several houseguests, all in a one-bathroom cottage. Joe’s Aunt Gina showed up, unannounced for a “short visit” that seems open-ended. What’s clear is that she’s hiding out from her latest soon-to-be-ex-husband. Pete Falconer, whom Joe describes as a bird-watcher, is camping out in a sleeping bag on their screened-in porch. Lee’s stepsister and her friend are living in the cottage for the summer and working at TenHuis Chocolade, the family business. And Darrell, who was recently released from prison after serving five years for a crime he didn’t commit, is living in a trailer in the yard. Confused yet? Did I mention that bird-watcher Pete is hiding a gun?

It seems that escaping the crowd for an evening at a neighbor’s dinner party is just what’s needed. The Garrett family has owned a cottage on the lake for generations. During the dinner party, armed intruders break in and steal a bag belonging to eccentric Uncle Alex. That bag contained the family’s famed jewelry collection. This is only the latest in a series of break-ins at cottages around the lake. As in any small town, gossip spreads quickly, and the story of the day is that each burglary occurred in a property insured by Joe’s mother, Mercy Woodyard.

The latest in the series of cozy mysteries finds Lee and Joe dealing with a series of domestic crises that rival an episode of “I Love Lucy.” Lee still misspeaks at inconvenient times, a trait I personally find annoying instead of endearing, but I’m clearly in the minority on that point. There are several visits to the family chocolate shop, and interesting information about chocolates thrown in along the way for flavor. But the story works best when it focuses on the string of break-ins around the lakefront properties. There’s quite a large cast of characters this time around, and several interesting subplots playing out during the main story. Readers with an affinity for chocolates and cozies will find another satisfying read here.

Rating: 6 ½
August 2007
ISBN# 978-0-451-22188-9 (paperback)


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