The Great Chocolate Scam – Sally Berneathy – Sarianna Gregg

28416843Once again I decided to go against my first instincts and try out a cozy mystery set around a woman in the culinary industry. The audiobook sample was funny, and I thought this one might actually fill the bill.


It was not terrible. Some of the writing was sharp and funny. I didn’t hate the main character, Lindsay. And much of the narration was indeed delivered with comic flair.

But I really didn’t love the main character, either. She had her moments, certainly, but she drove me mad throughout the story with her reactions to events. After an explosion kills her very-almost-ex-husband on his way to finally sign the divorce papers, suddenly the family he always denied having begins emerging from the woodwork, and they all want something from her. “I told myself it wasn’t my problem, and I should just send them on their way with a dozen cookies in a to-go bag. I assured myself I had no responsibility for these people…” All I could say was No, it’s not your problem. Yes, you should get rid of them. No, you have no responsibility for them. Lindsay had the opposite of responsibility for any of these people, and every single reason to brush them off and let lawyers handle everything. Yet over and over she put herself through minor hell for a handful of seriously hideous people, all the while complaining bitterly. I don’t know if this was supposed to be evidence of a heart of gold, but for me it was just indication that she needed to grow a backbone.

The narration was often funny, but somewhat erratic. Character voices sometimes got confused. Sometimes funny lines were delivered with a sultry tone, and vice versa, and sometimes straight lines were delivered hilariously. And … the problem with giving horrible characters horrible voices is that horrible voices are horrible to listen to. And some of these were truly horrid. And at least one, the victim’s purported mother, made little sense; the accent and tone didn’t jive with the way the character was described. And Fred, Lindsay’s neighbor, was given an English or Anglo-Indian accent, but again nothing in the description, as far as I noticed, supported it.

I thought it was odd that people needed alibis for the time of death when the murder weapon was a bomb which could have been – had to have been – set some time before it went off. I thought it was odd that Lindsay recognized her cop boyfriend Trent’s ploy to get fingerprints, but not Fred’s ploy to get DNA.

A minute ago I said I didn’t hate Lindsay. That’s not entirely true; there were moments I did want to throttle her, aside from her wishy-washyness with the annoyances. This was the third book in the series, and – sure enough – this is at least the third murder with which Lindsay has become involved. I always find that hard to swallow. What’s worse, though, is that Lindsay capitalizes on the deaths. She chortles over the increase in business at her shop after the last two incidents, created desserts based on the last two murders, and announces on the news that she is “going to create a special chocolate dessert that will help the families and friends of both victims … cope with this terrible disaster.” Ew. And, finally, she exhibits all the classic cozy mystery symptoms of the TSTL heroine: she ignores all orders to stay out of danger. When called on it at one point, she huffs that if she followed the rules she would never have created her own spectacular chocolate recipes. Which is true – but has nothing to do with being too dumb or pig-headed to stay out of the range of gunfire. And if I were a cop I don’t think I’d be able to sustain a relationship with someone who ignores direct instruction to stay put.

TLDR: not as awful as it could have been, but won’t be pursuing the series.

I received this via in exchange for a review.

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