The second Ice Cream Shop Mystery again features sleuth Riley Rhodes. She prospers in Connecticut managing a shop that sells home-made ices to leaf peepers, an affectionate name for visitors coming to enjoy the fall colours. Moy Mull Castle is the home of a retired supermodel, Maud Monaco, who married into European royalty. She hosts events for Penniman’s Fall Arts Festival in MINT CHOCOLATE MURDER.
The biggest puzzle for me was when mint choc was going to make an appearance. The seasonally popular pumpkin spice flavour was selling out, and a Hallowe’en themed alternative was also popular. The caterer Betsy Bittman at Creative Caterers, an enterprising lady who commissions themed ice creams, asked for a Scots treat which includes honey and whisky. Eventually, I decided that the original title must have been pumpkin spice murder, but the publishers realised this title was already in circulation.
Former CIA librarian Riley can’t resist investigating the suspicious circumstances around a death. This setting is nicely medieval and modern at the same time, as Adam Blasco, a controversial photographer, is asked to take a series of images for a cookbook in the ice cream shop and at the castle, which had been built of stones from a castle in Scotland. Cue much creeping around back stairs, a dungeon converted by former owners into a hotel conference room, and grand bedrooms. Riley doesn’t have a love interest, although she’s not immune to the charms of some fine gentlemen. Instead, she talks to her friend, Caroline Spooner, who owns the ice cream shop, and her mischievous and destructive cat, Sprinkles. An interesting new character is photographer Vye, a talented aide to Adam Blasco. I won’t spoil the read by saying who unexpectedly dies, as there were people I definitely did not want to lose, which says something about the characterisation.
I was happily entertained with all the events and delicious varieties of food. The snacks and desserts are all served in bite-sized portions, so people are trying several kinds. Everything is about the tastes. Riley manages to get a jog most mornings, and if she is going to keep pursuing killers, she will need to stay agile. I also like that a haunting and possible old mystery are involved, because history makes a location more solid and atmospheric. Author Meri Allen shows the beautiful New England fall in lively MINT CHOCOLATE MURDER, so start today, along with a dish of pumpkin spiced ice cream.
Riley Rhodes returns in the second delicious cozy set in a New England ice cream shop, Meri Allen's Mint Chocolate Murder!
When Udderly Delightful Ice Cream shop manager Riley Rhodes is summoned to Penniman’s Moy Mull Castle, it’s the cherry on top of a successful summer season. The gothic pile built by an eccentric New England Gilded Age millionaire has been transformed into a premiere arts colony by Maud Monaco, a reclusive former supermodel. As part of Moy Mull’s Fall Arts Festival, Maud is throwing a fantasy ice cream social and hires Riley to whip up unique treats to celebrate the opening of an exhibit by Adam Blasco, a photographer as obnoxious as he is talented.
As Penniman fills up with Maud’s art-world friends arriving for the festival, gossip swirls around Blasco, who has a dark history of obsession with his models. Riley’s curiosity and instincts for sleuthing – she was a CIA librarian – are piqued, and she wonders at the hold the cold-hearted photographer has over the mistress of Moy Mull.
But when Adam is found dead behind the locked door of Moy Mull’s dungeon, Riley realizes there’s more than one suspect who’d wanted put the malicious photographer on ice.