Saturday, August 24, 2019

Double Fudge, Double Mystery

CSM: Double Fudge Murder
If it involves chocolate, we will cover it here on The Chocolate Cult so from time to time we get fictional books to read and review. Today I want to share the cozy mystery novel, Double Fudge Murder, by Jan Fields. This is a reissue of the first book of the Chocolate Shoppe Mysteries series which are written by several authors though Fields appears to have written at least nine of the books in the series. Each book follows the same characters and takes place in the same town, Moss Hollow, Georgia. Annie's Fiction sent me a free copy of Double Fudge Murder, book one in the series, to review here on this blog; no other form of compensation was received for our honest evaluation of the book.



Like me talk first about the book itself. This is a quick read at 295 pages plus a recipe at the end for "Ration Cake" that uses cocoa. The book is a pale blue, hardcover with dust jacket that is quite attractive, don't you think? You can see the dust jacket in our first photo.



There is also a pale blue ribbon attached to the book spine to use as a book marker. Inside each chapter is headed by a drawing of a baking sheet while the subsections within chapters (not a lot of those) are marked by a drawing of a cake server. In an age of ebooks and paperbacks, this is quality book design.






Like all cozy mysteries, the focus is on an average woman who solves crimes from logical piecing together what she sees and hears. In this case, our sluth is returning native Jillian Green who finds herself in the middle of more trouble in Moss Hollow, Georgia, than she was back in California. The title of the book comes from the exclamation of Jillian's grandmother (who owns the Chocolate Shoppe) when Jillian's attempt to make brownies fails in a burnt mess. The grandmother's pressure on Jillian to become a baker (when she neither wishes to nor seems to have any talent for it) was the most annoying  part of this book for me. She's a grown woman, let her make her own choices, employ her as an owner of the shop, she can hire a baker, geesh!

The story quickly gets to the crime, the death of a bully Jillian was targeted by in high school who has never stopped being a bully over the past 20 years. It was rather obvious to me and to Jillian that the cupcake that delivered the poison could not be from her grandmother's bakery, the challenge is to find out where it came from, who poisoned it, and why. There are immediate suspects but based on the bully's history, it could be dozens of people in town.

Of course, cozy mysteries often include a romantic element as well as Jillian is set-up by her grandmother and others with another native who has lived away for many years, Hunter Greyson who is also expected to carry on the family business as a mortician. I was pleased that the romantic element was tiny in this book because I don't read mystery for romance, I read it to follow the clues and solve the case along with the main character.

Without giving too much away, I spotted the murderer within sentences of us meeting them. I kept wondering why the police and Jillian were having difficulty figuring it out. The police here seem quite laid back about what becomes a string of attempted murders. Jillian isn't a detective so other than self-interested curiosity, her "investigation" really isn't one. Personally, I prefer more investigation and less gossip and self-doubt but I know this book is following standard cozy mystery layout especially for the initial book in a series.

I think Double Fudge Murder would make a delightful gift for a cozy mystery lover because of the physical properties of the book itself. Plus, by following the formula in terms of plot but with a few little twists, it should be an entertaining read for that some literature lover.

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