Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Chocolate Falcon Fraud - JoAnna Carl

The Chocolate Falcon Fraud

A Chocoholic Mystery

JoAnna Carl





In the lakeside tourist town of Warner Pier, Michigan, there’s always something interesting happening.  At the moment, fans of hardboiled private eyes, gun-toting dames, and Humphrey Bogart are assembling for a noir film festival.  Lee Woodyard, business manager of Ten Huis Chocolade (a gourmet chocolate shop run by Aunt Nettie) is thinking about attending the screening of The Maltese Falcon when she gets a surprise visitor.  Her ex-stepson, Jeff Godfrey, a fan of noir films since she first introduced him to them, has come to town.


Lee hasn’t seen Jeff since he was a naive teenager.  He’s now in his twenties, has a bachelor’s degree, and plans to do graduate studies in history.  The two make plans to meet for dinner that night, but Jeff never shows.  He isn’t at his hotel, either.  Some searching uncovers his empty car, run off a gravel road in a very out-of-the-way spot.  Further searching and a large dose of luck lead to Lee finding Jeff in a bizarre spot.  The hospital says he’s got a concussion, and his memory is gone.  Soon after, Tess, Jeff’s friend, shows up in town.  According to her, the two are involved in a competition to find the best piece of film memorabilia for a cash prize, and she followed him to Warner Pier to try to scoop his find.  It seems thin to Lee, but great noir stories have been based on less.


If you’re not a fan of noir, don’t worry.  Anything you need to know about the genre and The Maltese Falcon in particular, is detailed here.  (Good thing, since I haven’t seen the movie in years.)  This allows non-fans to join in the fun of festival attendees roleplaying specific characters; and appreciate many situations that parallel classic noirs.  The author is great at blending background in the current events.  New readers will have no problems starting this long-running series at this point; and longtime readers (THE CHOCOLATE JEWEL CASE, THE CHOCOLATE BRIDAL BASH, THE CHOCOLATE SNOWMAN MURDERS, THE CHOCOLATE BOOK BANDIT) will have a great time, too.  As always, there are chocolate facts and recipes throughout.  I’ve already tried one of the easy fudge recipes, with great success! Despite the many noir associations, this mystery is light, fun, and cozy: the perfect escape from the holiday stress.


Rating: 6 ½

November 2015

ISBN# 978-0-451-47380-6 (hardcover)


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