The Chocolate Falcon Fraud
A Chocoholic Mystery #15
By JoAnna Carl
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Jeanie
From the bestselling author of The Chocolate Clown Corpse, it’s murder, my sweet, for a chocolatier whose love of old crime films plunges her into a real-life murder where the motives aren’t so black and white…
The Warner Pier tourism board is kicking off its Tough Guys and Private Eyes film festival with The Maltese Falcon, and Lee Woodyard and her Aunt Nettie are preparing a delicious chocolate noir tie-in at TenHuis Chocolade. What Lee isn’t prepared for is a face from the past: Jeff Godfrey, her former stepson. The last time Jeff showed up in town, he wound up being accused of murder. Now he says he’s only in Warner Pier to see Bogart on the big screen. Honest.
Jeff may now be a college grad, but that doesn’t mean he’s any less naïve than the kid Lee had to bail out of trouble earlier. There are all those strange phone calls, a girlfriend who’s secretly on Jeff’s tail, and a pack of suspicious-sounding acquaintances right out of Dashiell Hammett. Then Jeff goes missing, the Falcon theme is haunting everyone, and a body falls at Lee’s feet when she opens the front door – just like in the movie.
Now Lee is under deadline to rewrite the ending of a cunning killer’s increasingly convincing murder plot…(from Goodreads)
What an exciting new take on a classic mystery! Lee and her Aunt Nettie take seriously the value of chocolate in every situation, including the film noir celebration opening with ‘The Maltese Falcon’. How cool is that, chocolate in the shape of the mysterious Falcon? The Chocolate Falcon Fraud is the 15th in this Chocoholic Mystery series, yet I could pick it up and read it as a standalone as I have not read others from this series – yet – and really enjoyed it. Particularly fun are the some of the chocolate trivia and recipes throughout. The beautiful Michigan setting was a grand place to bring light to some of the darker noir films.
When I was in high school I ‘had’ to read The Maltese Falcon. Not my favorite then, but that could be very different, especially after reading the author’s insights on various aspects of the story. I never considered then that it was more than a mystery. Joanna Carl has broken new ground with this mystery by using the classic story to bring additional meaning to this one.
Working at and managing a chocolatier sounds like such a sweet endeavor! It was a wonderful place for Lee to land when leaving Texas several years prior. Aunt Nettie’s TenHuis Chocolade is one of the best things that has happened to Lee, second only to her husband Joe. Lee’s former stepson is now an adult, a very bright, personable young man. Nobody other than his girlfriend grasped how important the film festival was to Jeff, and the unique mystery and danger that everybody around him found themselves in was beyond what they anticipated.
Lee is a fun lady, and I really enjoyed her. Lee, Nettie, their spouses, Jeff and his girlfriend Tess are the primary people, and I felt as if I really came to know them well through the excellent characterizations. Those men and women who were unique to this novel are as well defined as needed for their roles. The conversations and activities brought each to life as the story progressed.
The plot was a great blend of this story and the classic ‘falcon’ tale. There were interesting twists with every turn, including the murder, the disappearing woman, the mysterious third Falcon, and Jeff’s temporary amnesia surrounding his accident. Chocolate remains central to the theme, and the chocolate shop with its tasty creations and kitchens were fun to read about. Trying to guess or logically understand who the bad guy / gal might be was almost impossible, and this reader was deliciously surprised with the resolution and the fully satisfying ending. I highly recommend The Chocolate Falcon Fraud to chocolate lovers of all ages, and those who appreciate well-crafted mysteries that include classic and contemporary elements. And I recommend that one also have a few chocolates nearby to help settle that craving while one reads! Life is too short to solve the mystery without chocolate!