Book #24 in our A to Z Mystery Tour
Joanna Carl 2002 – Chocoholic Mystery #1
A fan of both chocolate and cats, I pulled this book from the second “C” bay of the Mystery section at my library and was pleasantly surprised to read the acknowledgments thanking members of the Saugatuck community. Saugatuck is a small Michigan lake town that sits on the shore of Lake Michigan, about thirty miles from my home. I spend a lot of time there, either visiting my sister, dog-sitting her golden retriever Gus, or contemplating sunsets over the big lake.
Lee McKinney, the star of this series, has also frequented this uniquely charming town, which the author has renamed Warner Pier, and now she’s moved here permanently after leaving both her husband and her home state of Texas. While working in her aunt’s chocolate shop, Lee delivers chocolates to a wealthy attorney/philanthropist’s lakefront home, where a murder happens and a story is born.
The protaganist and her Aunt Nettie are likeable and drawn with humor, as are other members of the community, and the story is engaging and paced well. However, I’m never a fan of accents showing up phonetically in dialogue; it’s distracting and even a bit condescending – toward both the reader and the characters. The author uses this technique, especially when Latino mayor Mike Herrera gets worked up and his accent is more pronounced (“weesh” for wish, etc). I see the technique in many cozies, and I can’t figure out why editors think this is a good choice.
I’ll probably keep reading this overall pleasant series, just to see what else the author has to say about Saugatuck – er, Warner Pier. A standard cozy mystery debut and a fast read, The Chocolate Cat Caper is worth three stars.