A chance encounter in a supermarket involves a member of a Michigan chocolate-making family in murder.
Lee McKinney Woodyard’s protective instincts are aroused when she hears someone threatening a young woman in the Warner Pier supermarket. The woman is Sissy Smith, who most area residents think murdered her husband, Buzz. The threatener is Sissy’s father-in-law, Ace, whose military-consulting company (think Blackwater) has recently been investigated by Congress. Ace is trying to get custody of his grandson by fair means or foul. Sympathetic to her new friend, Lee offers Sissy a job as a bookkeeper at the TenHuis Chocolade and becomes embroiled in her problems, which only increase when Sissy discovers the body of Ace’s snoopy housekeeper. This time, the investigation is run by police Chief Hogan Jones, Lee’s uncle by marriage, who’s more open-minded about Sissy’s innocence or guilt than the county sheriff, who thinks Sissy got away with murder despite her excellent alibi. What doubles Ace’s enmity toward Sissy is that she lives with her grandmother, Wildflower, a holdover from a hippie group who lived in the area in the ’60s. Ace, who retired from the army at a high rank, can’t forget Wildflower’s demonstrations against the Vietnam War. As Lee continues to poke her nose where many think it doesn’t belong, she’s stalked and attacked in the woods near Wildflower’s home. But the episode only makes her more determined to discover the truth.
The latest in Carl’s long string of chocoholic mysteries (The Chocolate Cupid Killings, 2009, etc.), complete with chocolate trivia and a recipe, keeps you guessing all the way to the end.