Saturday, November 12, 2016

Stellar Chocolate & Comedy Murder Mystery

Some of you may remember a fun little book I reviewed here called Chocolate, Chocolate Moons. That same author is back with the further Martian adventures Molly Marbles on terraformed Mars in a book entitled Sherlock Mars. If this second book with the same protagonist is like the first this will be a comedy mystery, heavier on the comedy than the mystery with a lot of talk of food and a good science fiction foundation. This combination of genres may be a bit odd to some of you but genres can be crossed and blended if it is well done. I thought the first book about Molly Marbles was very well done. If any of these genres sound interesting to you, please keep reading and share with article with others. Author Jackie Kingon sent me a paperback copy if this book in exchange for a fair and honest review; this feature on The Chocolate is a bonus because we cover all things related to chocolate, and there is indeed still chocolate in this book.

The comedy in Sherlock Mars happens on all levels from the names of characters and locations to their misunderstandings about history and their dialogue. Some of the names are mildly amusing like Molly Marbles but others are laugh provoking such as police detective Sid Seedless. The historical misunderstandings make some sense given that the book is set in the 24th century but the comedy in these misunderstandings ranges from mildly amusing to a dark humor particularly in light of some events in our own world.

But the murder of a virtual restaurant owner, Rick Frances, and the investigation into his death isn't a laughing matter even if the the investigations are not on center stage. While I knew that the comedy and interactions of characters would take a backseat to the mystery, given that we see several times that Molly is known as a one who discovered the identity of the killer in the first book. This book's title comes from the fact that on a few occasions Molly is called "Sherlock Mars" because of what she did. However apparently she hasn't solved any new mysteries and it has been years so her fame seemed a bit strained to me when I read the book. I want a few more example of Molly's investigative skill before I believe she is that well known.

The science fiction elements of the book is good in terms of possibilities for solar system colonization if not up to hard science fiction standards. We have robots, androids, cybernetics, implanted personal computers, and other types of advanced technology. Yet the social environment is disappointing the same as our own. I do not recall a non-het relationship and body shaming is still very popular. To me, that was the biggest disappointment, that Molly has lost weight and that being skinny is still the range. Plus is she really eating all the food we see in this book and being thinner? Really? I wanted more of a difference between our society now and that on Mars but instead it is sadly familiar.

Food is still the focus of much of the book because Molly owns an upscale restaurant and the murder victim is a neighboring "restaurant" owner. Several of the suspects and witnesses are associated with restaurants in some way and one of Molly's daughters is planning a wedding so food is a topic repeatedly in those threads. Chocolate, of course, keeps coming up in desserts and even main dishes and drinks with the good old Chocolate, Chocolate Moons appearing several times.

If this book sounds like fun for you or a loved one, consider getting one for a holiday gift. If you do so with our link, you'll also be helping The Chocolate Cult.

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