Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Leslie Meier, CHOCOLATE COVERED MURDER - A Lucy Stone Mystery

What's more dangerous than one prize-winning chocolate shop in a little town in Maine? Answer: Two. That is, two in competition, with the ragged edges of their owners' past and present lives. Reporter Lucy Stone needs to cook up a Valentine's romance feature for her job, at the weekly newspaper called the Tinker's Cove Pennysaver -- but when "Best Candy on the Coast" is awarded to the newer shop in town, Chanticleer Chocolate, with its sexy (possibly promiscuous) candy manager Tamzin Graves and good-looking owner Trey Meacham, Lucy's boss tells her to find a way to cover the award tactfully. After all, everyone knows the family that runs the established chocolate shop, Fern's Famous; it won't do to upset sharp-eyed Fern, her daughter Flora, and granddaughter Dora.

In fact, Dora is a good enough friend of Lucy's to give the journalist a lot of mixed feelings about Dora's recent divorce from the smiling, bearded man who's just helped Lucy and her car out of a snowbank: Max Fraser. Even knowing that a body is sure to turn up in a Lucy Stone mystery isn't enough to cushion the blow when the body at the end of the first chapter turns out to be Max -- all tangled up in fishing line, with a hook lodged in his face, and toppled through the ice of the nearby Blueberry Pond.

If you're already a fan of Leslie Meier's traditional amateur-sleuth mysteries set in fictional Tinker's Cove, Maine, you'll guess that Lucy's suspicious about Max's death. And the next death that takes place -- one where melted chocolate plays a role, like a practical version of "Goldfinger" -- forces Lucy to dedicate herself to digging through the town scandals and working out who's got motive, means, and opportunity. No need to read the previous Lucy Stone books before enjoying this one. (But you may want to read them in backward order!)

Kensington Books had this scheduled for a January release (a luscious warmup for February 14!), but the hardcover became available yesterday, well ahead of schedule. (Maybe Meier's web maven was also caught unaware, because as of today, her website,, doesn't yet display the new book.) That's handy for a bit of end-of-year collecting! After all, this is the 20th in the series ... and a nicely plotted, tight, enjoyable detective tale that shows off the winter side of Maine in sweet chocolate style.

[PS - For those of you who assume any book title involving chocolate must have a recipe in it: The only dish described in detail is Lucy's own spur-of-the-moment maple-blueberry-topped cheesecake. A nice thought!]


Beth Kanell said...

That prize-winning recipe for maple-blueberry-topped cheesecake from CHOCOLATE COVERED MURDER stayed on my mind, so ... last week I made a cheesecake for my hubby and topped it with maple-blueberry sauce (half cup of blueberries, frozen or not, and half cup of pure maple syrup; bring to a boil, then simmer for 5-10 minutes). The extra sauce went onto waffles the next morning. Thinking of Leslie Meier's plot again: Why can't there be two competing chocolate shops here in MY town? (smile).

Caroline on Cape Cod said...

I loved the book. I found one mistake, but that makes it more interesting. I can't wait to see what Lucy is up to next.