“What a Mix of Mulch and Murder—With Delectable Fudge Thrown in For a Divine Cozy”
(Thursday, October 2, 2014)
Reviewer: Nancy Narma
The day was like any other that started for Allie McMurphy, owner of the historic McMurphy Hotel and Fudge Shop. It is a beautiful time of the year on Mackinac Island, with the scents of the fast-approaching Lilac Festival filling the air. What a perfect setting to take her Bichon/Poodle puppy, “Marshmallow”—(“Mal” for short) for a stroll. All was going along normally with Mal’s frequent sniffs and stops until she reaches the building that houses Mackinac Island’s newspaper, “Town Crier”. Snorting like a bull and tugging on her lead, Mal stubbornly refuses to come out from under a large bush—but, when she did—she proudly reappears with a bone—not just any bone, one bearing an argyle sock! Was this some other dog’s buried treasure? Allie found out this wasn’t so when Mal made a second dash under the bush then deposits a shredded boot at Allie’s feet—complete with toes adorned with neon orange toenails! What to do? Which way to turn? Whose body could possibly be buried in with the mulch? Completely unnerved, she runs into the Town Crier office to report the grisly find and calls 911 to get hunky but serious Officer Rex Manning on the scene. Unfortunately, Allie already has some previous history with a murder scene (see “All Fudged Up”) and Officer Manning. As if that isn’t enough to fill anyone’s plate, Allie’s mentor and one of the finest chocolatiers in the U.S., Peter Thomas arrives and talks Allie into participating in the “Candied Chef” reality show. At $20,000.00 per episode, how could she resist? It would be good PR for “The McMurphy”. But her mind is still on Mal’s discoveries, which keep adding up with no solution in sight. Mrs. Finch’s dog, Daisy is no help—as soon as a bone is uncovered, she whisks it away with the police in hot pursuit for the escaping evidence, to the point that the canine is put in jail. Meanwhile, long hours of making fudge and taping the show segments start taking their toll. And when a contestant’s lifeless body is found in the woman’s changing room—all fingers start flying in Allie’s direction. Does she want the grand prize so badly that she would kill one of her opponents? Who really stands to gain from the contestant’s demise? Maybe it’s the producer of the reality show, Bob Salinger? Or perhaps Brian Bere, the nervous Associate producer? Then again, there is angry, grudge-laden Tammy Gooseworthy, daughter of the local mulch company owners. Would she want to be on the reality show so badly that she’d commit such a heinous crime? Before Chef Thomas could join the suspects list, he is bludgeoned and in a coma, making Allie fear for her life as well. What’s on the Lake Huron side between Mission Point and the downtown area? And, if the taping can continue, who wins the reality show? Author Coco, also known as Author Nancy J. Parra has written a fast-paced, mesmerizing cozy which will keep you guessing. One aspect I like about this Author’s mystery writing is that she doesn’t make you wade through several chapters for the murder discovery. She has put many twists, turns, and quirky characters on Mackinac Island—many of whom I hope to re-acquaint myself with again soon. Ms. Coco has graciously included a snippet of Allie McMurphy’s next fudge-coated adventure entitled “Oh Say Can You Fudge” and several yummy fudge recipes you will definitely want to try. Don’t miss a visit to Mackinac Island, it’s a sweet trip that will have you salivating for more.