All Fudged Up
A Candy-Coated Mystery #1
By Nancy Coco
Author’s Website: http://www.nancyjparra.com
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Daniele
*I tried to keep the spoilers to minimum but beware*
Allie McMurphy is up to her neck in renovations at the grand old hotel that’s been in her family for generations. With its quaint Victorian charm – and world-famous fudge shop – the place is one of Mackinac Island’s most beloved landmarks. Sure, every family has a skeleton or two in the closet. But Allie didn’t expect to find an actual corpse inside hers, especially one Joe Jessup, who had a long-running feud with her dear departed grandfather. Which makes Allie the number-one suspect. Can she sniff out the culprit before another victim checks in? (Amazon.com)
Allie McMurphy has always planned to take over her grandfather’s hotel and fudge shop on Mackinac Island in Michigan; she has a degree in hotel restaurant management and a newly earned culinary degree, too. But, her Papa Liam died before he could show her the ropes. Now she finds herself alone with a bit of a money pit that has been in the family for more than one hundred twenty years. Boy is she surprised when she moves in and finds Papa’s oldest rival, Joe Jessup, dead in her utility closet! By the next day, everyone in town is asking her all kinds of questions, assuming she killed Joe, and spreading rumors that her hotel is up for sale. Misinformation spreads like a bad game of Telephone. The tight knit community has taken sides, Jessops vs. McMurphys, with the Jessops in the lead because she’s an outsider…surely that makes her guilty.
Luckily, Frances, the front desk and reservations manager, sticks by Allie’s side, even giving her a puppy named Marshmallow for “protection.” Papa’s other employee, Colin Ferber, who acts as a handyman, is MIA. Apparently, he has a bit of a drinking problem. So Allie hires retired teacher/library volunteer Mr. Devaney as a replacement. Her friend from school, Jess, also moves in for the season to help. Hopefully, they can figure out what happened to Joe, clear the McMurphy name, and continue the remodeling before the season starts and all of the reservations cancel. Things get even more complicated when a suspicious stain is uncovered beneath the lobby carpet, a secret tunnel is found in the basement, the hotel books do not add up, there is another murder, and it looks like Papa might not have died of natural causes after all. Things are obviously not as they seem.
I have to admit that I was looking forward to reading this first installment in a new series. I have always wanted to visit Mackinac Island (blame it one too many viewings of Somewhere in Time), and this vicarious trip will have to do until I can build up a vacation fund. By page three, I was laughing out loud and thought maybe I had found the best cozy of the year. Then the town nastiness came into play, and I must say that this aspect of the story was torture. Thank goodness the animosity lessened. The mystery was fresh and clever. I enjoyed the mystery of the tunnel as much as the whodunit. That doesn’t sound right – should one enjoy murder?
I personally am not much of a fudge fan, but the included recipes sound interesting, especially since they are for consumers 21 and older (they contain alcohol). The recipes are dispersed throughout the book, and it would be more convenient if they were bunched together at the end of the story. I look forward to seeing where Coco takes the characters, including the potential romance. I would recommend this for Mackinac Island and Michigan fans, pet lovers (since the dog is relatively prominently featured), and those interested in behind-the-scenes hospitality.