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Birds of Lake Merritt by Alex Harris
Blue by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond and Daniel Minter (Illustrations)
Dark Chocolate Demise by Jenn McKinlay
Death Over Easy by Maddie Day and Laural Merlington (Narrator)
Final Catcall by Sofie Kelly
The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang
High-Wire Henry by Mary Calhoun and Erick Ingraham (Illustrations)
Hundreds and Hundreds of Pancakes by Audrey Chalmers
Invisible Kingdom, Volume 2: Edge of Everything by G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward (Artist)
It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder by Maria DiRico
Kat Hats by Daniel Pinkwater and Aaron Renier (Illustrator)
Kazu Jones and the Comic Book Criminal by Shauna Holyoak
A Killer Sundae by Abby Collette
Light Years From Home by Mike Chen
Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella
Mister Miracle: The Great Escape by Varian Johnson and Daniel Isles (Illustrator)
Night Owl by Sarah Mlynowski, Emily Jenkins, and Lauren Myracle
Oddball by Sarah Andersen
Once Upon a Seaside Murder by Maggie Blackburn and Christa Lewis (Narrator)
Operation Sisterhood by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage by Jeff Lemire and Denys Cowan (Illustrator)
The Witch's Apprentice by Zetta Elliott

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Dark Chocolate Demise: 02/07/22

Dark Chocolate Demise

Dark Chocolate Demise by Jenn McKinlay is the seventh book in the Cupcake Bakery mystery series. It's spooky season and the food truck is out at the Old Town Zombie Walk. They've brought along a casket for customers to take selfies in, until a woman who could be Angie's twin is murdered and her body is left inside.

This is the novel that follows directly on the heels of Sugar and Iced (2014) where Mel's boyfriend breaks up with her because of a boss case he's prosecuting. Now it appears that the family is going after Mel's friends.

I have to admit that before Mel figures out that the dead woman isn't Angie, I stopped the audiobook to read the descriptions of later books in the series. I wanted to see if Angie was really dead or just mistakenly dead. I would have continued reading either way — but this body discovery was the first one to take me by surprise in a while.

I should also note that I'm not a fan of mob plots. I saw that with full knowledge that I'm reading and enjoying Maria DiRico's Catering Hall mystery series. What differs there is that it follows a family that has chosen to go legitimate. The mob isn't an all seeing, all present, amorphous threat as has become in this series.

Most of this book is reactionary. Mel and Angie and the men in their lives are reacting to the murder. There's very little in the way of investigating in this volume. Instead there is baking and handwringing.

Then when Mel and Angie do finally decide to investigate, they instantly end up in danger. It's honestly a mystery based around victim shaming. The murderer's reasoning ends up being both obvious (to the observant reader) and ridiculous. There are so many other ways they could have achieved the same goal and done it more successfully that didn't involve the Cupcake Bakery.

The eighth book is Vanilla Beaned (2016)

Three stars

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