Three Fudges and a Baby

Candy Coated Mysteries #12

By Nancy Coco

ISBN 9781496743701


When her pregnant best friend’s doula is found with a smoking gun, fudge maker Allie McMurphy’s sleuthing becomes a labor of love . . .

April is not only the start of “fudgie” season on picturesque Mackinac Island, it’s when Allie’s BFF Jenn Carpenter is due. Jenn wants to have her baby on the island, so she’s lined up a midwife and a doula. But she’s two weeks overdue—and if one more person tells her she looks ready to pop, she’s going to go bananas.

If there was a list of what not to expect when you’re expecting, right at the top would be coming upon your doula holding a gun over the body of her fiancé. Clearly in shock, Hannah Riversbend claims not to have shot him. Jenn asks Ally to prove the doula’s innocence before her special delivery arrives. The clock is ticking as Ally races to solve the murder in time for Jenn’s bun to come out of the oven. . . (from Goodreads)


I fully enjoyed this new mystery in its series. If a humorous cozy mystery could be considered “feel good”, it would be this one. Allie and her friends on Mackinac Island have formed real friendships since she moved there. The authentic, charming setting is a delight for the senses, especially in the spring. Allie inherited the Historic McMurphy Hotel and Fudge Shop from her beloved grandfather, and running it is all she ever wanted to do. She is beginning her third tourist season, following her second full winter there. The murder and the person of interest were shocking and a challenge to solve. Several recipes for rich, sweet delights are included throughout the novel.

Those who live on Mackinac Island year-round are a special kind of hardy Midwest folks, including Allie and her boyfriend, Rex. Most are friendly and down-to-earth. It is a delight to learn more about the regular characters as well as appreciate those who are only in this novel. Who they are is demonstrated throughout, with just the right amount of background for their roles.

Jenn is Allie’s best friend and an expert party planner. She is also two weeks overdue with her and her husband Shane’s first baby. Jenn insisted on having an at-home delivery with her midwife, Sarah, in attendance, and her doula, Hannah. Worst case, she would deliver in the clinic on the island, but refused to leave the island for a hospital.

Jenn was to meet Hannah one morning, so Allie walked with her. They headed for the alley entrance to Hannah’s apartment, and saw Hannah turn into it. Her fiancé, Matthew, followed her. Before Allie and Jenn reached the alley, a young man in a hoodie ran out of it, almost knocking Jenn over.  Monica, a shop owner, said that Matthew and Hannah had an animated, heated conversation moments earlier. They got almost to Hannah’s and saw a man lying on the ground at the stairway going up to Hannah’s. Hannah was sitting on the stairs, holding a gun, eyes open but unresponsive. Matthew had a puddle of blood around him. Jenn hurried away to call 911 while Allie checked to see if he was still alive, but it was too late. Allie, with the help of her calico cat, got the handgun and moved it away from Hannah. Police officers Rex and Charles arrived first. Within minutes, the new DA joined the scene.

Even though she couldn’t speak and was in shock, Hannah was the only person of interest in the death of her fiancé. The DA thought his first major case would bring notoriety to bolster his political aspirations. There is no way he could lose with Hannah having been found with the smoking gun and blood on her clothes, so the police work for the case was complete.

Jenn is horrified. She knows Hannah, and the doula was her only choice after researching several women to coach her and Shane through labor and delivery. Jenn’s wails and weeping had little effect on anybody. Allie, an amateur sleuth who has solved several murders since moving to Mackinac Island, visited Hannah as the shock wore off to ask questions about what happened. Hannah’s bail was set at a half million dollars.  As a last resort to keep her friend calm and happy, Allie made a deal with the devil to pay Hannah’s bail before Jenn gave birth. She, with the help of some ladies from the senior center, looked into every aspect of the case. This time, blocked from finishing an official investigation, Rex is glad for her snooping. He believed in justice, not railroading someone to quickly close a case for an easy win.

In the meantime, Allie’s mother made a rare trip to Mackinac with Allie’s high school and college beau, who is now very wealthy and has his own political aspirations. He would do anything to get Allie to marry him, but she was over him a long time ago. Her love for Rex was worth more than a fortune.

This mystery kept me guessing, and huge surprises greeted me at the end! I had briefly considered the real bad guy, but there didn’t seem to be a motive. My favorite suspect almost seemed too obvious, and had what many would consider a good motive. I was very satisfied with how the mystery was resolved, and how a couple other situations worked out. I am looking forward to the next mystery in the series, and highly recommend this one!