Business has been a little slow at the Moonlight Magnolia Detective Agency, but full-figured P.I. Savannah Reid doesn't have time to drown her sorrows in a box of double-chocolate truffles. She's too busy watching the Gourmet Network--and drooling over the sinfully scrumptious confections that Lady Eleanor ("The Queen of Chocolate") whips up on-air. But someone isn't sweet on the Queen's charming chatter--and wants her to hang up her oh-so-quaint apron--for good. . .
When Savannah hears that Lady Eleanor's been getting death threats, she jumps at the chance to be her round-the-clock bodyguard. It's a great chance to meet her idol in person--and maybe pick up some free chocolates, too! But her sweet dreams melt away the minute she meets Lady Eleanor. The woman is as rotten as last year's Valentine candy--and stingy with the chocolates to boot! After a few miserable days of her boss's put-downs and pettiness, Savannah finally understands why someone wants to put an end to Her Majesty's reign.
But when the Queen of Chocolate bites into a chocolate and drops dead in the middle of her own live TV show, Savannah is horrified. After all, it was her job to protect Lady Eleanor--and now thousands of traumatized chocoholics know how horribly she failed. Talk about bad for business. If only to save her own reputation, Savannah has to figure out who's to blame for the Queen's untimely (and very ungraceful) demise. . .
The prolonged story of her heroine's dysfunctional family weighs down the pseudonymous McKevett's otherwise lively, sharply humorous mystery, the eighth (after 2002's Peaches and Screams) to feature zaftig PI Savannah Reid. Savannah, owner of the Moonlight Magnolia Detective Agency in San Carmelito, Calif., agrees to protect Eleanor Maxwell, aka the Gourmet Network's Lady Eleanor, after the self-titled "Queen of Chocolate" receives threatening letters. To Savannah's dismay, her client collapses after biting into a chocolate during a TV show taping and dies in her arms. Despite her seeming popularity, Lady Eleanor was notoriously bad-tempered-and worse, her recipes were a disaster. Aided and abetted by hungry, hardworking cop Dirk Coulter, Savannah encounters a number of coarse characters, notably the victim's vicious daughter and resentful ex-husband, in her search for the killer. Only one member of the Maxwell clan-Lady Eleanor's seven-year-old granddaughter, Gilly-elicits our sympathy. The unexpected arrival of Savannah's sister Cordele, who's determined to rehash the issues of their relationship and their harsh childhood, tests everyone's patience, including the reader's. Established fans may welcome the family analysis, but the uninitiated, especially those lured by the dark cat and chocolate goodies (brownies, fudge, cake, etc.) on the jacket, will find this caper a lot less cozy than meets the eye.