Hot Fudge Murder
A Lickety Splits Mystery #2
By Cynthia Baxter
Author’s website: cynthiabaxter.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Just six weeks
after the grand opening of Lickety Splits Ice Cream Shoppe, owner Kate McKay
has been enlisted to whip up sundaes at the most decadent soiree in the Hudson
Valley. If only Kate knew how deadly sticky her sweet deal will turn out . . .
Once Kate arrives at a glamorous gala hosted by world-famous fashion designer Omar DeVane, she’s instantly intimidated by the mogul’s luxurious mansion and the frosty personalities of his handlers. But the party completely loses its flavor when guests follow screams to a room that’s eerily empty–except for Omar’s freshly murdered body . . .
While the headline-grabbing crime brings a steady stream of journalists to the sleepy village of Wolfert’s Roost, Kate knows things won’t return to normal until Omar’s killer is brought to justice. And with the scandalous case driving customers away from Lickety Splits, she has no choice but to put down the ice cream scooper and expose the culprit on her own . . .
As Kate crashes high-profile photo shoots and mingles with fashion’s biggest influencers in search of clues, the puzzling truth about Omar’s fame and fortune rises to the surface–and with it, the key to his killer’s twisted motive. Kate will have to navigate the celebrity lifestyle to save her fledgling business, but her attempts to freeze cold-hearted criminals in their tracks could lead to a double scoop of deadly trouble.
Second in the new Lickety Splits Mystery series, this novel reminds me of all the reasons I like ice cream. This unique shoppe of handmade, hand-designed ice cream is a fabulous setting for a cozy mystery. I enjoyed meeting the characters, who are well-rounded and defined. While I had a good idea who the bad guy might have been, it was still a very challenging tale of murder, danger, and surprises.
Kate’s ice cream store, Lickety Splits, has only been open a few weeks when she is hired to cater a party at the weekend home of Omar DeVane, an internationally-famous fashion designer whose favorite food is hot fudge sundaes. When she asked his personal assistant, Federico, what they are celebrating, he said Omar’s life. And a fabulous one it has been for the gentle, down-to-earth man that Kate, her best friend Willow, niece Emma, and Emma’s current boyfriend, Ethan meet the night of the soiree. Federico and Omar’s business manager, Mitchell, leaves a bit to be desired, but his housekeeper Marissa is friendly and helpful as can be. That’s why, when they heard a scream, and Marissa came running into the party crying that Omar had been murdered, it was such a shock. At least to everyone except who killed him.
This is the second time a murder has occurred where Kate is, and Detective Stoltz is less than happy to see her again. He interviewed her first, then when realizing she was there on business only, let her leave. Unfortunately, with the death of such a well-known man in their community, summer tourism came to a screeching halt. Not only is her shop effected, but the entire business district. If business doesn’t pick up soon, the shops will lose their primary income for the year. It’s time for Kate to get involved with solving the murder, whether she likes it or not.
Kate and her high school sweetheart, Jake, have a tentative friendship growing after his disappearance on the night of their senior prom. It seems he wants to revisit their former relationship, but she’s not sure if she is ready to do so. When Brody, who looks like a modern-day Viking, opens Hudson Valley Adventure Tours across the street from Lickety Splits, he shows an interest in her. Suddenly she has both men dropping by the house, and both are like dogs circling a bone. Hopefully Kate will choose one or the other quickly and reduce the tension in Grams’ home!
The characters are well-defined and most are very likable. Kate, while a great businesswoman and former PR executive, doesn’t always think things through. When the town was crawling with cable and newspaper reporters, she begins to answer questions about the murdered man without finding out who she was speaking to. She takes risks on her sleuthing trips, especially when nosing around the home of the late fashion designer. Overall, though, due in part to her love of ice cream, I do like Kate, as well as Willow, and Kate’s beloved Grams. Grams might be my favorite person as I see her make amazing changes throughout.
Watching Kate and her friends search for the killer was exciting. The plot twists revealed few possible suspects. I was surprised to see the ease with which she was welcomed by Omar’s supermodel and the editor in chief of a leading fashion magazine; both seemed to be genuinely nice women who shared information providing great clues. When Kate’s life is threatened, she finds one of the most telling clues, leading her to put herself in even greater danger. I was somewhat surprised at who the real bad guy(s) turned out to be, so well was deception played. I highly recommend this deliciously-designed mystery!
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*