Sunday, March 1, 2015

Ray's Reviews: The Chocolate Clown Corpse by JoAnna Carl

       The Chocolate Clown Corpse” by JoAnna Carl (Obsidian, $22.95) is a delicious crime novel that’s set in the middle of winter in the small resort town of Warner Pier, MI.
        It’s the fifteenth in her popular series showcasing Lee McKinney Woodyard, business manager of Ten Huis Chocolade, a deluxe chocolate shop with a great product and reputation.
         Woodyard is getting ready for a busy March mid-winter promotion – this year it’s Clown Week, with lots of events showcasing clowns.
        Moe Davidson, owner of the building next door to Ten Huis, was also gearing up for it; he ran a business called Clowning Around and frequently performed as a clown.
        However, Davidson was not a happy fellow. Even though he was known as one of the town’s leading financial benefactors, he was not well- liked. When he turns up dead at his house, there’s one prime suspect - Royal Hollis - a local homeless man who confesses and is arrested.
        Woodyard’s husband Joe, who works for a non-profit legal organization, is selected as Hollis’ defense attorney.
        A month later, Davidson’s family members decide to sell the building. Woodyard is interested in buying it for the chocolate shop owners, who are away on a well-deserved vacation.
        She takes a tour of the building and soon complications arise – Davidson’s widow is found unconscious.
        While there are many challenging situations, Woodyard is in fine form, creating clown-themed candies and trying to find answers to numerous puzzling questions.
        The local police aren’t interested in investigating any further – they consider the case solved, but the action intensifies.
        There are many laugh-out loud scenes and the slippery, exciting conclusion is great fun.
        The author has created a highly entertaining cozy mystery with a light touch and strong characterization. While this is the latest in her popular series, it also works well as a stand-alone crime novel.
        Most of her earlier novels are available in paperback, including the “The Chocolate Book Bandit,” which deals with a murder in the town’s library.
        It’s easy to get hooked on Carl’s mysteries – she even throws in bit of tasty chocolate trivia to get the reader more involved.
        JoAnna Carl is the pseudonym of Eve K. Sandstrom, who lives in Oklahoma but spends her summers in Michigan.

        Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, has reviewed crime
novels and Michigan books regularly since 1987.

Find these books and other great titles
at the Curious Book Shop, an independent 
book shop in East Lansing, founded in 1969.

Curious Book Shop
307 East Grand River Avenue
East Lansing, Michigan

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on March 1, 2015.

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