Sarah Graves, author of the popular Home Repair Is Homicide series, has a spinoff series out that begins with “Death by Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake.” The Death by Chocolate Mysteries series features the main characters we know and love from Eastport, Maine, and gives them a chocolate shop.
The popular crime solving, best friend duo from Home Repair, Jacobia Tiptree and Ellie White, recently opened The Chocolate Moose. The bakers sell yummy chocolate taste treats to the delighted locals and are getting ready for the July 4th weekend, doing special orders of the forenamed cheesecake as well as their regular items. Jacobia (Jake) receives an early morning call that the shop door is standing open and arranges to have the fussy lock replaced. When she arrives at The Chocolate Moose to open for the day, the lights are out, causing her to trip over something in the dark. Which turns out to be a very dead health inspector bent over a worktable, his head leaning into a pot of chocolate. A health inspector she and Ellie have been battling with since setting up business.
Ellie may be the last person to see the nasty inspector alive, and not under the best circumstances. She’s the most likely person to be under suspicion, but how will she be cleared of wrongdoing? And, the practical matter question: Can a chocolate shop recover from a dead guy falling into its signature chocolate? “Death by Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake” is a wonderful beginning to the new series, featuring a great mystery with clever misdirection, warm familiar friendships, relatives with complex issues, a missing son with a surprise of his own, a hurricane, and a Maine setting that is a character in itself to be reckoned with.
Amid the action and suspense of the central murder plot, Graves shows us that despite the challenges of work and mayhem, family always deserves care and attention. Jacobia’s loving husband has her back in ways she isn’t always aware; her father escapes from his hospital bed, arriving home in a taxi still in his paper slippers and gown; her step-mother is craggy, smart, and fiercely defends her loved ones; her son is making his way in the world despite a few worrisome years. There are touching scenes with her father that brought tears to my eyes. Graves’ marvelously written family hits all the right notes, and the mystery in “Death by Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake” has plenty of surprises to keep the reader turning the pages.
Books #2 (“Death by Chocolate Malted Milkshake”) and #3 (“Death by Chocolate Frosted Doughnut”) are out now. Barnes and Noble, here I come.