Candy-Coated Mysteries #7
By Nancy Coco
Author’s website: nancyjcoco.com
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Jeanie
Halloween on Mackinac Island is a season of fun tricks, but
finding a corpse is no treat for fudge shop owner Allie McMurphy . . .
NIGHT OF THE REALLY DEAD
It’s late October, off-season for tourists, but locals are up and lurching for the annual zombie walk charity event. Though everyone’s living it up, trouble is a just a few pawprints away. Allie’s followed the bloody tracks of her calico cat, Carmella, to a body in the alley behind the Historic McMurphy Hotel and Fudge Shop. Unlike the island’s other walking dead, this one’s flatlined for good. It seems that someone is using the zombie fest as the perfect backdrop for murder. Now amateur sleuth Allie and dreamboat officer Rex Manning must use every trick in their treat bag to unmask a killer in disguise.
This exciting mystery is at times funny, scary or sadly serious. Allie has just completed her first tourist season as the new owner of the family’s Historic McMurphy Hotel and Fudge Shop on Mackinac Island. It is a time of change, and not just due to cooler temperatures and falling leaves. Jenn, Allie’s best friend who worked tirelessly to promote the McMurphy this summer, left for a prestigious job in Chicago. Her chocolatier, Sandy, has been offered a position as head pastry chef starting next season at a larger hotel. Many of the folks Allie loves at the senior center are going south for the winter. Her new family on the island is scattering, and she wonders what winter will bring. Winter, when only a few die-hards stay in this cold winter wonderland.
Today, Allie will have fun with friends around the island. It is time for the Zombie Walk aka “Night of the Walking Red”, a fundraiser for the American Heart Association. Zombies of all sizes and shapes are everywhere as Allie and Liz, editor of the local newspaper, return from getting a costume for Allie’s pup, Mal. Allie’s calico cat Mella comes out of an alley covered with something that looks like blood, yet she doesn’t have any injuries. They hear a scream; their friend Sophie came from the alley saying that she thinks she found a dead guy…
Rex, the top investigator on the island and one of the two guys Allie dated over the summer, and another officer arrive at the scene. A woman came into the alley looking for her son. Unfortunately, Maggs’ son Anthony was wearing a jacket with his costume that looks exactly like what is on the body lying there. Maggs is the best friend of Frances, the McMurphy Hotel’s manager. Frances is going to spend the night with Maggs after getting such a shock. Anthony was getting ready to move to the lower peninsula for a teaching job.
Everyone on the island assumes that Allie will help investigate, as she has gained a reputation as an amateur sleuth in the short time she’s lived here. Everybody loves Maggs, and Anthony was also well-loved on the island and in his church. For as much as she wants to step back and let Rex and his officers do their job, it becomes personal when someone blew up the senior center. Yes, where she and many of the seniors were gathered that morning, barely cleared out before it was rocked by the first explosion.
Being back on Mackinac Island is like visiting old friends, from Allie and her puppy Mal to Rex, Frances and her new husband Douglas, and the folks at the senior center. Each person is so well defined that I can almost see them in the gorgeous setting painted by the author. I really like Allie, Frances and Liz. I like how Allie wants to hold onto the family and island traditions, especially in the fudge she makes and how she is updating the hotel to look as it once did with the only major changes being technological advances of the 21st century. Allie and Trent, the other man she was dating, broke up some time ago; dating someone who is away more than there isn’t the kind of relationship she wants. Rex has been more attentive, especially in Trent’s absence, but Trent’s proposition might change everything. This delicious mystery is full of fudge, humor, suspense, possible romance, and scary moments. Plot twists and turns continue to send the police and Allie in different directions. I enjoy seeing the interaction between Rex and Allie, between Allie and the seniors. Yes, they know all the gossip that helps her when she is looking for a bad guy, but she genuinely cares about them and enjoys making fudge for them. This armchair sleuth could only guess at a few of the pieces to this puzzle; it was more complex that I first thought. The solution, and the ending, are both very satisfactory, with more than one surprise in store. I highly recommend Fudge Bites and the rest of the Candy-Coated Mystery series! Each can be read as a standalone, with even more enjoyment if read somewhat in order.
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*