Give Fudge a Chance
A Candy-Coated Mystery #11
By Nancy Coco
Author Website: nancyjcoco.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
It’s summertime along Michigan’s beautiful Lake Huron, and sleuth extraordinaire Allie McMurphy is determined to win this year’s fudge competition at the annual Mackinac County Fair. But will a funhouse murder sour her plans?
The Mackinac County fair is in full swing, and the air is rich with the scent of funnel cakes and the sound of carnival rides. Allie is focused on the fudge competition—another win would really put her hotel and fudge shop on the map. But she’s willing to take a little break and walk through the haunted house attraction with her friend Jenn.
When they come across a body, though, it turns out not to be a prop. Soon Allie’s cop boyfriend is on the scene, and the sleuthing confectioner is hunting for clues. Danger strikes too close to home when the hotel becomes the scene of a suspicious fatal accident, and Allie suspects the two deaths are connected. The case is turning into a real rollercoaster. Allie will need to hold on tight. . . From Goodreads)
I always look forward to visiting Allie and her friends on Mackinac Island, and this novel did not disappoint. The author continues to bring fresh, exciting plots for this series, and I enjoy learning something new every time. This mystery highlights the historical background of certain aspects of the island pertinent to the plot, and includes new fudge recipes. The ladies at the senior center are eager to help Allie investigate crimes. They know it is often what she discovers that helps solve cases. Humorous situations lighten even challenging days.
Allie McMurphy inherited the historic McMurphy Hotel and Fudge Shop from her grandfather a couple years ago. She has since done renovations and upgrades, including adding a roof deck that allows guests to use it well into the fall. Her best friend, Jenn, has turned it into a fabulous venue for wedding receptions and other special events. They use outdoor heaters in the cooler months so guests can enjoy the magnificent views from spring through autumn.
Allie and Jenn went to the county fair, being held on Mackinac Island due to extensive work being done to the county fairground on the mainland. There is not as much space for it, but those coming to the island see the sites and buy fudge while finding exhibits, rides, and contests. Jenn insisted on going into the haunted house. One of the workers was locked in a jail cell, and when Allie saw him, he grabbed her arm and said to be careful, a murderer was loose in there. Minutes later, they saw a man sprawled across the threshold of the exit door, holding it open. They didn’t realize anything was amiss until Allie noticed his open, unblinking eyes not reacting to the bright sunlight. He was not part of the exhibit, but a very real dead man.
Rex, Allie’s boyfriend, is the lead police officer on the island, and Jenn’s husband Shane is the crime scene investigator. Both arrived on the scene quickly. Rex knew the man, Mike, a co-owner of several attractions, including the haunted house. Paul, the man locked in the cell, is the other co-owner, and as soon as the police allowed him, he shut down the haunted house for the rest of the fair.
Rex and Shane didn’t want Jenn or Allie to stay any longer than necessary to give their statements. Now that Allie and Rex are dating, she promised she would no longer get involved in murders unless her family or loved ones are somehow affected. Jenn always wants to join her, but she is pregnant and needs to stay out of the way of any criminals.
Allie is focused on one of her favorite activities. She learned to make fudge from her grandfather, and is up early every morning to make the fudge that makes the McMurphy a popular place for visitors. She continues to develop new flavor combinations, including one that she has entered at the county fair, deep chocolate mint. She and other candy and fudge makers are competing against Christine, a woman whose caramels have taken Best in Show for the past twenty years.
Rex and the other officers are having little success in finding suspects or motives. He is at Allie’s one evening when they hear a terrible noise outside. A friendly young woman has somehow fallen to her death from the roof of the McMurphy Hotel. Evidence found suggests she had been murdered, then thrown from the roof. The crime has become personal, and Allie is ready to investigate.
Allie, Jenn, and other primary characters in the series are colorful, engaging, and mostly down-to-earth folks. The author is adept with realistic conversations and actions that bring each person to life. Allie’s active pets bring an added heartwarming touch.
Carol and some of the other seniors are happy when Allie begins to investigate, even though she doesn’t want them at risk any more than she would let Jenn risk herself or her baby. She tries to keep them reined in, until she arrived much later than planned to one of their meetings. The house had been tossed, and Carol is missing. Carol, who told a few people she thought she knew who the killer was. This mystery, including finding Carol, kept me guessing throughout. I was somewhat surprised at the end, and satisfied with the outcome. I highly recommend this cozy mystery and series!