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Christmas Cocoa Murder by Carlene…
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Christmas Cocoa Murder

by Carlene O'Connor

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1051,354,052 (3.8)None
This three-in-one contains holiday tales by O'Connor, Maddie Day, and Alex Erickson. There's nothing like a hot cup of murder to warm up the holiday season. Includes Christmas Cocoa Murder, Christmas Cocoa and a Corpse, and Death by Hot Cocoa.

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Showing 5 of 5
This title contains three short stories/novellas by different authors, all with the theme of a murder mystery around Christmas specifically involving hot chocolate and set in a small town.

In the first story, Siobhan O'Sullivan of the Irish Village mystery series has just graduated from the police academy when a murder breaks out just a week before she officially starts work. And not just any murder -- someone has murdered the little town's official Santa! The actor is found dead in a giant vat of hot chocolate and the holiday appears to be destroyed. This story was a bit odd because it takes away from the third book in the series, which is supposed to be Siobhan's first case as a Garda. Nevertheless, I did like that the story went back to a local being murdered (rather than an outsider) and the suspect pool being large. This one somewhat surprised me in that I didn't actually guess the murderer far in advance. It did irk me, however, that the murdered Santa actor was repeatedly referred to having suffered from a "mental illness" but what specific illness isn't mentioned and his actions don't seem to correlate with any particular diagnosis.

In the second story, a restaurateur in a small town in Indiana has her holidays ruined when a friend of her boyfriend's parents is murdered -- and the police somehow suspect her specialty hot chocolate may have played a role. This one is part of the Country Store mystery series and since I haven't read any other book in that series, I had a harder time keeping track of the various characters and their relationships to each other. It also struck me as odd here that the protagonist Robbie would somehow magically be better at solving a murder than the police officials, but that's how these cozy mysteries often go with the amateurs knowing more somehow. Nevertheless, the entirety of her suitability for this role is that she's 'good at crossword puzzles' and her solving the case is pointless as she figures out who the murderer is literally mere minutes before the police do. It's also hardly worth calling this one a mystery and the whodunit plot is so slight. That could be okay if the remaining story was concerned with character development, but instead it slowly plods along with clunky text interminably describing mundane things in excruciating detail. For instance, Robbie doesn't just take the dog out -- she walks the dog, sees that he does his business, pulls out a bag from the holder on the leash, marvels at what a neat invention that is, then scoops the dog's poop up. No one needs that much. Get to the point already. This story was definitely the weakest of the three and leaves me with zero interest in ever picking up another title in this particular mystery series.

The final story is part of the Bookstore Cafe mystery series and follows Krissy, a bookstore owner and daughter of a mystery author, as she and a friend go to a Christmas-themed escape room. In the middle of the event, the proprietor of the escape room is found dead near mugs of hot chocolate laid out for the participants. Who murdered him -- or was he not the real target of the killer? This was a fun twist of the classic locked room mystery; not only is there a limited set of suspects, but the characters are literally locked together in a single room and must work together to escape while knowing that one of them is a murderer. Also, because the police is not yet alerted to the murder, it does make perfect sense for Krissy and the others to try and suss out who the killer is. I was happily surprised that I did not guess the ending at all. Even though I only picked up this book for the connection to the Irish Village mystery series, I was pleasantly surprised to find this one the strongest of the stories in the collection.

The narrator for the entirety of the book was pretty meh. I found her bordering on monotone and her voices for male characters never quite sounded right. It would have been a better choice for the publishers to pick a different narrator for each story, especially that I *know* the Irish Village series has a different audiobook narrator than this one, and it's likely the other two series do as well. ( )
  sweetiegherkin | Jan 30, 2020 |
Christmas Cocoa Murder by Carlene O'Connor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Since I only read two of the authors in this collection I'll only be reviewing their stories.

CHRISTMAS COCOA AND A CORPSE by MADDIE DAY
When local businessman Jed Greenberg is found dead with a Chocolate lab whimpering over his body, the police start sniffing around Robbie Jordan's country restaurant for answers. Was it something in Robbie's hot cocoa that killed Jed, or was it Cocoa the dog? As the suspects pile as high as her holiday tree, Robbie attempts to get to the bottom of the sickly sweet murder.

The mystery only has 2 real suspects so it isn't really hard to figure out who the killer really is. The characters are well written and well developed. It was nice to get a glimpse of how the characters all get ready for the holidays. I liked that Robbie and Abe get to spend the holiday together while also sharing spending time with each others families. I wish the mystery had been a little bit harder to solve since I had it solved after the introduction of the second suspect and a few clues that gave away who the killer was.

DEATH BY HOT COCOA by Alex Erickson
A Christmas themed escape game seems like the perfect holiday treat for bookstore cafe owner Krissy Hancock and her friend. But when the host is found dead in a pool of hot cocoa, it's up to Krissy and her team to catch the killer or escape before getting killed.

The mystery was well written and a little tricky to actually figure out with so many suspects. I liked how Krissy was able to use logic to solve the clues in her escape room and then to also logically solve the murder. I think it would have been read if Krissy had been with her best friend and business partner Vicki solving the murder instead of Krissy and Rita.

I received and ARC of this book from NetGalley and Kensington Books for my review.



View all my reviews
  FaytheShattuck | Jan 17, 2020 |
Christmas Cocoa Murder by Carlene O'Connor, Maddie Day, and Alex Erickson contains three cozy novellas that are a part of the following series: An Irish Village Mystery series, A Country Store Mystery series and A Bookstore Café Mystery series. I thought they were three entertaining Christmas cozies. They are all well-written and full of Christmas spirit. The three mysteries were interesting with various levels of complexity. The escape room mystery was my favorite, and I particularly enjoyed the description of the escape room puzzles. I have read books from all three series, so it was not a problem for me to read each story. I already knew the characters plus the settings. Maddie Day has my favorite writing style. It is like conversing with old friends. I like how hot cocoa played a part in each story with Christmas Cocoa Murder featuring it in a unique way (a dunk tank). We get to enjoy Christmas festivities in three different towns from two countries. I especially appreciated that all three stories featured intelligent female protagonists who are resourceful and do not break down at the sight of a dead body. I am glad that Kensington puts out these holiday novella collections and I hope that they continue to do so. It is a chance to catch up with our favorite series and solve a mystery (a definite bonus in my book). Christmas Cocoa Murder has three cocoa connected conundrums, a swarm of suspects, many missing mutts, sharp sleuths and copious Christmas cheer. ( )
  Kris_Anderson | Nov 20, 2019 |
Cocoa is the link that ties these very different novellas together. The first tale illustrates how the best of intentions can go horribly wrong. The second one shows what happens when someone’s actions go beyond the intentions, with results that were not really regretted. And the last one shows that a guilty person will react to threats that are not really there but is fearful of them nevertheless. All are entertaining and intriguing tales of Christmas murders. ( )
  Maydacat | Oct 30, 2019 |
I really enjoyed these three quick holiday reads. Visiting South Lick this time of year was a lot of fun. I really enjoy Robbie and her friends. Plus, there's a cute puppy involved! I also really liked getting a peek into Siobhan's life before official becoming a garda. The goings on in Kilbane for the holidays are great to experience. Perfect way to introduce someone to one or more of your favorites! ( )
  ethel55 | Oct 28, 2019 |
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