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Beat the Heat with an Ice Cream-themed Cozy!

Updated: Jul 27, 2022

Agatha Award winning author Meri Allen is back with book two in her engaging Ice Cream Shop Mysteries series

When I first saw the cover and title of Mint Chocolate Murder by Meri Allen, I expected a cozy mystery full of ice cream shop sweetness. But this book surprised me, in a good way! The foodie references are there, but the story is perhaps a smidge darker than many cozies, not in terms of gore, but in the storyline surrounding the murder victim. He is a total creep in his treatment and exploitation of young women trying to get their start in modeling or art careers.

Riley Rhodes, a former librarian for the CIA, makes for a capable and likable amateur sleuth. She recently returned home to small-town Connecticut after a botched assignment derailed her CIA career. She is now reconnecting with family and friends and running a local ice cream shop, but her investigative skills keep coming in handy in this quaint small town.

This installment has Riley asked by a reclusive former supermodel to provide ice cream treats for an art festival at her home, which happens to be a castle built by a Gilded Age eccentric, and is now an artist's colony. The castle was brought from Scotland stone by stone, assembled by Scottish artisans, and holds its own secrets. When a famous and controversial photographer obsessed with young models is murdered on the grounds, in a locked room no less, Riley's investigative skills are tested.

I found this quick-paced, well-written, and layered, with multiple criminal subplots, including one twist I did not see coming. Riley is an engaging MC, her back story is interesting, and I think her character will become even more interesting as the series progresses. There are several interesting secondary characters, and the author casts suspicion in multiple directions. And I was invested in whodunnit and how. The gothic elements surrounding the castle were fun. We also get some adorable animals, yummy food references, and a delicious pumpkin spice ice cream recipe in true cozy fashion. Meri Allen is the pen name of the Agatha Award-winning writer Shari Randall, and this delightful new series of hers is one that I will be following! Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the opportunity to review this ARC. I very much enjoyed it!

My steep was iced Mint in tea by Simpson Vail Tea. A refreshing black tea blend with spearmint and so good iced. Highly recommended for summertime sipping!

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