Death by Chocolate Frosted Doughnut
A Death by Chocolate Mystery #3
Kensington Books, February 2020
There are more than 4,000 islands off the coast of Maine; in fact, there are more islands in the Gulf of Maine than on the entire East Coast of the United States. Pirates have been known to Maine’s shores since Dixie Bull (nicknamed “The Dread Pirate”), an Englishman, operated in Maine waters in 1632. The other pirate most associated with Maine was Black Sam Bellamy in the early 1800s. So, why am I telling you this? Well, it’s because Sarah Graves’ latest book, Death by Chocolate Frosted Doughnut, set in Eastport, Maine, takes place with a Pirate Festival as its backdrop. And the real town of Eastport, Maine, really does hold a Pirate Festival every September.
So, Jake and Ellie, her best friend and business partner in their bakery, The Chocolate Moose are baking up a storm anticipating crowds of hungry tourists (and locals) from the festival. Approached by a celebrity foodie, Henry Hadlyme, who wants to film a podcast episode in their bakery, Jake and Ellie decline because he is obnoxious and has not had a good word to say about Eastport eateries so far so why take the chance that he will bad mouth their bakery too? Henry becomes angry and insistent and Jake tells him in no uncertain terms not to come back or something bad might happen to him. Unfortunately, Henry is later found dead in the basement of The Chocolate Moose and when the state police arrive to investigate, Jake becomes the prime suspect. Only an intervention by Bob Arnold, Eastport’s police chief and a friend of Jake and Ellie, keeps Jake out of jail. Obviously, Jake and Ellie have to find the murderer to get Jake off the hook before she is arrested. The investigation they undertake has points to several people with possible motives and takes some unexpected twists and turns, not to mention involving others who are also at risk – enough, I think, to add up to an interesting and not obvious resolution.
For anyone who is not familiar with Sarah Graves’ work, she has a 16-book series, “Home Repair is Homicide” in which Jake, a transplanted New Yorker, and Ellie, a native Mainer, solve mysteries while Jake works on restoring her old house. The author also has a newer series (2 books so far) featuring Lizzie Snow, a police chief who moves to Maine to try and solve what happened to her murdered sister and the disappearance of her sister’s daughter. I love Sarah Graves’ work and hope she writes many, many more books. To quote Margaret Maron, “Sarah Graves writes with grace and intelligence….” I could not agree more, and I can’t wait for the next book, Death by Chocolate Snickerdoodle, due out in 2021.
Reviewed by Melinda Drew, December 2020.