Book Review by Debbie Winkler
Target Age Group: adult
Lee McKinney has given up her career as a Texas trophy wife and moved back to the small town of Warner Pier, Wisconsin, where she spent the summers cashiering in her aunt’s TenHuis Chocolade shop. Lee is helping out her Aunt Nettie by working at the store and balancing the company books while studying for her CPA exam. She knows that the store, while doing well, needs all of the extra summer business it can get to stay profitable so when a large order comes over from Clementine Ripley, Warner Pier’s wealthiest and most hated resident, Lee urges her aunt to accept it regardless of her personal feelings on the matter.
Lee comes to regret this decision as Clementine Ripley dies the night of her party due to cyanide poisoning in the amaretto truffles that her Aunt Nettie provided. Things look even worse when Lee finds out that her Aunt Nettie blames Clementine Ripley for the death of her husband, which definitely provides her with a motive and she certainly had the means! But Lee quickly discovers that her Aunt Nettie was certainly not the only one who held a grudge against the infamous defense lawyer. There is Marion McCoy, Clementine’s personal assistant, who ran her life, but didn’t seem to really like her; Joe Woodyard, Warner Pier’s golden boy and the subject of Lee’s teenage crushes, the former Mr. Clementine Ripley who inherits the entire estate; the Police Chief, who retired to Warner Pier after Clementine Ripley ruined his career in the big city, but couldn’t escape her shadow; Mayor Hererra, who looked like a fool when Clementine Ripley backed out of her deal to sell her land to the city to build an observation facility; not counting the town’s notorious gossip Greg Glossop, Clementine’s slick and charming investment partner and every scumbag that Clementine Ripley kept out of jail…
The Chocolate Cat Caper is Book 1 in the Chocoholic Mysteries Series and it was cute and light, but it was a bit of a disappointment. Lee is a charming heroine, but she was pretty ditzy and, while her habit of saying the wrong word when she is nervous (which is often) was endearing and laugh-out-loud funny at times, she just isn’t very bright. She solved the mystery by being in all of the right places at the right times (or wrong places at the right times), but there was no real deduction on her part and her attempts to question other suspects in the murder were just laughable. The lack of mystery aside, the chocolate facts were entertaining and I liked reading about how they made the chocolate for the store and the other little details that the author put in. I will definitely check out the next book in the series, but I hope that it has a better mystery in it.
This is a cozy mystery, which means that it is not as hardcore as regular mysteries and there is not a lot of detail (police, autopsy, body condition when found, etc.) in regards to the dead person. There is little to no description of the actual body in regards to the murder and very little official police detail provided as the heroine is not at all involved with the police department. The plot deals with divorce, falling out of love, trophy wives and husbands, bribery, criminals escaping justice, and a callous defense attorney (the victim), but these topics are delivered and dealt with a great deal of humor and are just present as part of normal life. There is some potential romantic interest, but nothing happens. This mystery is very clean, very safe and is perfect for even the most squeamish of mystery readers. Recommended for ages 12 and up.