I don’t usually go seeking out cozy mysteries, but when I find one up next on my ARC reading list, it’s a pleasant break. It’s weird to think that a murder mystery could be cozy, but it somehow works really well! My latest example is the newest installment in Meri Allen’s Ice Cream Shop Mysteries series, Fatal Fudge Swirl.
Former CIA librarian and amateur sleuth Riley Rhodes is settling into her new life back in her hometown of Penniman, Connecticut and it’s Halloween time! This year, Halloween means the marriage of socialite Diantha Collins to celebrity chef Dominic Dominello. The upcoming nuptials also bring former child star (and Diantha’s son) Cooper Collins to town with the entire production of the new romantic comedy he is filming. The weekend takes a turn however when Diantha is found dead on the morning of her wedding and foul play is suspected.
As with the first two books in the series, the mystery takes its time unfolding. We follow along with Riley as she does her own investigation, much to the dismay of her best friend’s boyfriend (who also happens to be the Chief of Police). Though there are many clues dropped throughout the book, I was still unable to figure out who the murderer was until right before the reveal, which is always fun!
Also similarly to the first two books in the series, the reveal felt a bit anticlimactic. The story builds up to Riley figuring out who the killer is, but when we actually find out, it’s fairly lackluster. Which is not to say that the journey to get there isn’t enjoyable! There was suspense and drama and excitement along the way that kept me engaged and reading well into the wee hours of the morning just to get to the end.
Overall, this was a fun and quick read. Each of the characters had layers to be peeled away and there were a couple of storylines (aside from the main murder) that helped to flesh them out as well. While some of the side plots felt unnecessary to the story as a whole, I did appreciate how they gave depth to some of the side characters and hope to see them develop further in future books.
Fatal Fudge Swirl is the third book in the Ice Cream Shop Mysteries series by Meri Allen and hits shelves June 27, 2023. Preorder a copy for yourself here and get cozy! And while you could read it as a standalone, it’s much more fun if you also grab the other books in the series, The Rocky Road to Ruin and Mint Chocolate Murder.
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will be supporting indie bookstores as well! If you prefer Amazon, visit my Amazon storefront and click on the list titled "2023 Book Recommendations."