Book Review: Fudge Bites by Nancy Coco
By Amber KellerSeptember 26, 2019
Halloween on Mackinac Island is a season of fun tricks in Fudge Bites, the newest mystery in the Candy-Coated mystery series from Nancy Coco, but finding a corpse is no treat for fudge shop owner Allie McMurphy . . .
In this seventh installment of the Candy-Coated Mystery series murder and mayhem abound, along with some delicious fudge recipes to try your hand at your own yummy dessert. This series sees protagonist, Allie McMurphy, at her beautiful familial home on Mackinac Island in the upper peninsula of Michigan. She runs a bed and breakfast, along with her very own fudge shop, in her grandparents’ old estate. Assisted by her fur babies, Mal and Mella, Allie finds herself embroiled in mysteries in this small vacation spot. Allie works with local officer and romantic interest Rex Manning to help solve the cases.
In Fudge Bites, the island is gearing up for Halloween. Right off the bat there is an annual zombie walk charity event, and Allie is ready to go as a zombie pinup girl. Before she can enjoy the festivities, her cat, Mella, has found her way smack dab in the middle of a murder scene. Once the body is discovered, events begin to steadily unfold. All while helping to solve the mystery, Allie must keep up her business and make fudge daily to fulfill online orders. Add in the romantic element of a love triangle of sorts between Allie, Officer Manning, and her ex, Trent, and the stakes are raised on the side. As the story progresses, another body is discovered, and soon enough terrifying explosions are rocking the buildings on the island. Allie has to help Rex figure out who is behind it all before becoming a victim herself.
Allie is a wonderful main character being a strong, mostly single woman that is beloved by many. She has been through some rough times recently losing her grandfather, and she’s proving to herself that she can keep up her end of the bargain that she struck saying she would keep the Historic McMurphy Hotel open. This is not easy, and she relies heavily on her friends and staff. Her love of her pets is also endearing and relatable. Her dog, Mal, loves everyone on the island, and is loved in return. She spends much of the story torn between missing her dearest friends that had left the island, and a hard to resist offer from Trent and staying to explore her blossoming relationship with Rex.
The setting of Mackinac Island is perfect for a cozy mystery series. It’s a different world on the island due to the restrictions set in place to preserve the beauty and grandeur. Everyone knows everyone, and the community spirit is the island’s backbone. The fall season is particularly gorgeous on the island, and the perfect backdrop for a murder mystery.
Mackinac Island, Michigan was known as the fudge capitol of the world. We were a small island in the straits between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan. The entire island had been combustion engine-free for over a hundred years. That meant the only way to get around was walk, bike, or take a horse-drawn carriage. I loved the traditions of the island. Things were slower here, and the sights and sounds of modern life were left behind.
Allie’s uncanny ability to find dead bodies is not lost on the inhabitants of the island. It becomes a bit of a running joke between the gossip mill. Allie insists it’s usually her animals that find them, but we find out that some of the locals are jealous of her exciting lifestyle and wish to trade places with her. The first body is found during the zombie walk, which is the perfect place to commit murder and have it gone unseen.
“Hi, Charlene, it’s Liz McElroy,” Liz said. “I’m in the alley behind Doud’s and the McMurphy, and I think we might have stumbled across a crime scene.” She paused. “Yes, I know that the whole island is full of the walking dead right now, but we think this one might actually be dead.”
Sophie shivered and hugged herself. I rubbed her arm to comfort her.
“Who is ‘we’?” Liz said. “Sophie and Allie and me.” She looked at us. “Yes, Allie McMurphy.”
“I’ll call Rex,” I said.
“No, don’t call him,” Liz said. “Charlene is contacting him now. She started calling him the minute I said I was with you.” Liz covered the phone with her hand. “She said you’re the Grim Reaper.”
There’s a few scenes of Allie making fudge that are so wonderfully described that my mouth began watering. I could smell the fudge coming off the pages. Author Nancy Coco has added in seven different recipes for fudge that are tempting enough on their own. I admittedly tried the Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Fudge, which was devoured by my family. Next up will be the Pumpkin Spice Fudge recipe because hello fall. Allie’s fudge making was also cathartic for her and helped her deal with the increasing stress of finding bodies and avoiding exploding buildings.
This was my first glimpse into the Candy-Coated Mysteries, and I am delighted with the characters, the setting, and the fun recipes. I really want to see where Allie and Rex go with their relationship, and how Allie fares with the hotel and her fudge shop. This is a fun and fast paced cozy mystery that would be perfect for a weekend in, under cozy blankets with a mug of hot cocoa.