The Chocolate Bunny Brouhaha
A Chocoholic Mystery #16
By JoAnna Carl
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
The approach of Easter means a rush of business at TenHuis Chocolade, and Lee and her Aunt Nettie need all the help they can get to make their famous chocolate bunnies and eggs. Unfortunately, new hire Bunny Birdsong is a clutzy basketcase dropping everything she picks up. But to Lee’s surprise, she’s a whiz with computers and fixing the store’s website so they decide to keep her.
However, Bunny receives a few visitors they could do without: her ex-husband Beau, his wealthy aunt Abigail, his new girlfriend, and her brother all descend on the shop one day and have a bitter argument. Lee hopes they can find a peaceful way to settle their dispute and not bring any more trouble to TenHuis. But when Abigail’s body is discovered in the vacant store next door, it’s clear to Lee there’s a bad egg in her midst. Now she’s on the hunt to find out who it is…(from Goodreads)
What a dream come true for a chocoholic to work at! The order for six thousand of special chocolate Easter bunnies? Easy. Pettit fours? No problem! Truffles? Sixteenth in the Chocoholic Mystery series, a first-time reader can feel as welcome as if they had read the first fifteen. Be careful, though – this series can be as addicting as chocolate, especially with the interesting tidbits about the history of chocolate. It was not easy to avoid eating chocolate while digesting this cozy mystery!
Bunny, a cheerful young woman who drops or breaks almost anything she tries to do, was going to be let go. She knew it, Lee knew it, and Lee’s Aunt Nettie, owner of the TenHuis Chocolade had left the task to Lee to handle. When Bunny went to Lee’s office, she found Lee ready to bludgeon the computer, which began a dialogue about computers. That was Bunny’s saving grace, as she knew about computers, web pages, emails, and how things should be set to work properly. Thankfully, Bunny now has a new position and Lee has a much-needed assistant.
Bunny’s divorce was in the works since her husband brought in some gal and sent Bunny out the door; Lee’s husband had handled the divorce for her as part of the legal work he did at low or no cost. Lee hired her in hopes that she could learn the skill of making and decorating the yummy delights they sold. Sadly, since her ex, an artist, was such a bully and belittled her ability to do anything, it would have been doubly hard for Lee to let her go, but her expertise in computers just might turn her life around.
At least until the following morning, when construction workers found the body of Bunny’s ex’s Aunt Abigail on the other side of the wall where construction was underway. Aunt Abigail had a showdown the previous afternoon in the chocolate shop with Beau, the ex, as she stated that their family doesn’t divorce. The the new girlfriend, Anya, and her brother Andrew were within earshot. There were several good suspects along with Beau and Anya. Unfortunately, Bunny was the best one as Aunt Abigail was overheard telling Beau that he was disinherited and she was leaving his inheritance to none other than Bunny. Days later, one of Lee’s employees was hit over the head on her way to her apartment over the shop.If Lee hadn’t come along and scared away the bad guy, Dolly have been killed. Despite herself, Lee was asking questions and learning all she could about the situations.
The characters are detailed with excellence; I could almost picture Bunny after ‘meeting’ her for the first time, as well as Dolly. Lee was an open book, especially as we read the novel through her words. She doesn’t sugarcoat anything, including her early suspicions about Bunny’s involvement and her challenges with words not coming out quite right when stressed. She and hubby Joe are a great team in every sense of the word. Anya was like a quintessential bimbo, and her brother, while intelligent enough to manage the neighboring wine shop, was also an artist. Aunt Nettie was married to the police chief, Hogan, and the two still have a fresh youthfulness about them. Bunny almost surpasses Lee as my favorite character in this mystery!
The plot is interesting, holding my attention throughout. A cozy mystery set in Michigan is a treat for me, since it is my ‘home state’ and there is nothing resembling it where I live now. The descriptions of the area are very well done, enough for me to remember what the end of winter and early spring are like. The story is fresh with enough intriguing twists and turns to keep this armchair sleuth guessing regarding who the bad guy/ gal might be in between descriptions of some of the most luscious sounding truffles. There are very intense, suspenseful scenes as well as humorous moments. The end had surprises I hadn’t anticipated; it was satisfying and left me hungry for more chocolate, and more Warner Pier, Michigan mysteries. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys well-written cozy mysteries and chocolate.