This month, I decided to read the first entry of one of the more often recommended Cozy Mystery series from more recent years that I hadn’t gotten around to yet, in this case the first entry of Amanda Flower‘s Amish Candy Shop Mystery Series, Assaulted Caramel. Though this is the first entry in this particular series for me, I have read other books by Amanda Flower before, so I wasn’t surprised by how much I enjoyed this particular entry.
This series combines two things that many Cozy lovers can’t seem to get enough of – a particular food type and a less mainstream, less urbanized way of life, in this case chocolate and the Amish.
Both features get ample coverage, and the sleuth of the entry, Bailey King, provides an excellent protagonist viewpoint. A successful chocolatier in New York City, Bailey is introduced visiting her ailing grandfather, or daadi, whose failing health is making running the family candy shop increasingly difficult. When visiting, she overhears an argument between her grandfather and a local real estate magnate arguing about selling the shop, which daadi strongly opposes. To Bailey and her grandparents’ surprise (but not to ours!), the magnate is found dead shortly thereafter, stabbed by a chocolate cutting knife in the King business’s kitchen.
Naturally, Harvest, Ohio, proves to be full of other eccentric and interesting characters, from the handsome and charming police deputy, to the domineering matriarch dead set on having her daughter married despite the recent murder of the groom’s father, to the local leader of the local quilting circle and her pet potbellied pig, Jethro. These and many other charms of the small town life lead to the conclusion of one of the novel’s ongoing threads, the obvious growing discontent Bailey has with her big city life. She starts the novel in a secret relationship with a man she rarely sees, and while she is up for a big promotion at her big city chocolatier job, she doesn’t seem incredibly keen on pursuing that for most of the novel. This particular culmination is hardly a surprise – it’s the Amish Candy Shop Mystery Series, after all, not the Big City New York Candy Shop Mystery Series!
For anyone who has read another mystery by Amanda Flower (or Isabella Alan, the other pseudonym she writes under), the high quality of the writing is hardly a surprise either. Flower also writes the Magical Bookshop Mystery Series, the Magic Garden Mystery Series, the Living History Museum Mystery Series, the Appleseed Creek Mystery Series, the India Hayes Mystery Series, and (as Isabella Alan) the Amish Quilt Shop Mystery Series.
Also, for those who may be swayed by a sweet tooth, this book does include a recipe, for salted caramel fudge which does sound absolutely delicious.
As a reminder, from now on I’m going to try to announce what I’m reading a month ahead of time, so people can look up the books before I start writing about them. Next month will be the first book in Paige Shelton’s Scottish Bookshop Mystery Series, The Cracked Spine.