The Chocolate Raccoon Rigmarole
A Chocoholic Mystery #18
By JoAnna Carl
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
In this eighteenth mystery in the national bestselling Chocoholic series, a gang of crooks with a wicked sweet tooth wreaks havoc on the resort town of Warner Pier, and it’s up to Lee Woodyard to rout the hungry rascals.
A frantic late-night phone call from her right-hand woman Dolly Jolly brings Lee Woodyard to the scene of a break-in at the Warner Pier jewelry store next door to TenHuis Chocolade. To her shock, the suspect being held at gunpoint by police is Dolly’s boyfriend, Mike Westerly, who was recently hired as a night watchman specifically to prevent break-ins. Dolly hopes Lee can help straighten out the crazy misunderstanding.
Even crazier? The thieves took nothing of value from the jewelry store, only swiping some snacks. It’s another in a series of break-ins by burglars the media has dubbed the Cookie Monsters. They’ve been hitting shops selling everything from sunglasses to shoes but stealing only sweets: lollipops, cookies, even chewing gum!
It all seems pretty funny–until the discovery of a dead body. With her friends and community in danger, Lee must stop one very sour killer before someone else comes to a bitter end. (from Goodreads)
I tremendously enjoyed this new offering in The Chocoholic Mystery series! It was wonderful to visit the folks in Warner Pier, Michigan again and meet some new folks. I could almost “see” the little town with the author’s picturesque descriptions. This armchair sleuth couldn’t figure out who the bad guys were and was in as much denial when identified as a few of those in the story.
I’m a confirmed chocoholic and wish I could get samples of TenHuis Chocolade’s “Luxury Chocolates in the Dutch Tradition”! Every time Lee mentions having a bonbon of the day, she gives a description – wow!! This summer, the specialty chocolates are in the shape of four woodland animals, including a raccoon.
Nettie, Lee’s favorite aunt, began the shop many years ago with her late husband after learning the secrets of chocolate making in Amsterdam. Lee came to Michigan from Texas to help Nettie and is the business manager. Since then, she met and married Joe, an attorney in nearby Holland, with a boat restoration business in Warner Pier, and is its volunteer city attorney. Lee, with the help of hubby Joe and Nettie, have been known to help Nettie’s husband Hogan, the chief of police, with murders and other mysteries that often involve family or friends.
Dolly is Nettie’s right hand assistant in chocolate making. She and Mike, a night watchman for the Warner Pier PD, have romance brewing. Many evenings he can be found at Dolly’s during his work break. Late one night, Dolly called Lee in a panic. Paige, a deputy for the county sheriff’s office, is holding Mike at gunpoint after responding to a break in at the neighboring jewelry store.
When Lee, Joe, Hogan, and the sheriff respond, they go into the back room of the jewelry store. There was no evidence of a break in, but they heard a muffled pounding. The owner, Alex, was tied and gagged Inside a storage closet. Two unidentified people had gotten into the shop and stuffed him in the closet. The store has not yet opened, so he had no jewelry. The only thing missing is – cookies? It was the same as a couple other shops broken into recently. The news dubbed them as the Cookie Monsters.
There is a rash of urban raccoons in town, including a mama and babies under the steps at TenHuis. Lee hired a man named Watt to capture and release them, but this mama raccoon was one smart bandit. Late one night, Watt was found, badly injured, lying next to the humane trap he was checking. Days later, a shocking death was discovered; this is clearly not a good start to the tourist season.
I appreciate Lee and Joe, and Aunt Nettie and Hogan, in the way they treat, respect, and love each other. I also like the mixture of residents, from college grads and professional people to tradespeople, and even an old hippie. Most get along with others very well, as there is minimal social distinction. In a town of 2,500, most people are “in it” together.
The mystery was intriguing! I was impressed with some details that seemed almost trivial until reading further into the novel. Nabbing the bad guys turned into a race against time as Lee and Nettie tried to escape their clutches! The resolutions were perfect, and all loose ends were tied up. That includes the raccoons, who played a major role throughout the novel. One can read this as a standalone mystery, as in most cases sufficient backstory is provided for the new fans. I highly recommend this addicting chocolate novel that includes recipes and information about chocolate!