Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Hot Chocolate - Blog Tour

Hot Chocolate
by Dawn Ireland

This cozy mystery is a raucous romp.  A light, quick read, it is laugh-out-loud funny all the way through except maybe for the scene when the murder victim is discovered and the scene when the murderer declares themselves tho even those two scenes have elements of slapstick visuals incorporated into them.

The plot is quite masterfully constructed and kept me guessing right up to the moment the culprit was revealed and that is not easy to do as I've read or watched so many mystery stories I often figure it out well before the halfway point.

Where the story truly shines though is through the characters of which there are many yet each one is fully rounded and uniquely eccentric.

There are the three Alcott sisters, Madge, Lila Mae and Dorthea, ages 55 to 60 something heiresses to a bazillion dollar global chocolate company and their 90 something father who lives with Dorthea, the youngest.

Then there is their staff: Dorthea's histrionic male housekeeper, Lila Mae's divine cook and her uncle Tito, a shaman/guru.  And central to the story, Bambi, the elderly father's day nurse and her husband Jimmy.

There's the family lawyer and his wife and their addict niece.  There's Houston police detective, Chance who is also Dorthea's beau and his two investigators.  There are several of Jimmy's employees at the bowling alley, Bambi's parents and Jimmy's aunt and Lila Mae's astrologer.

Food itself is nearly a character in the story and several of the recipes featured in scenes are included in full at the end of the novel.

As the story begins Dorthea has confessed she can no longer manage their father's care and the sisters develop the plan with the help of their lawyer to place him in a ritzy assisted living home and provide Bambi a generous severance package.  But when Jimmy learns the Alcotts have let Bambi go he is infuriated and hires a shyster to sue the family for wrongful termination.  That suit is dismissed as frivolous and an angry Jimmy drives his wife home from the courthouse.  Dropping her off at their mobile home park he returns to work at his bowling alley.

Bambi wakes in the wee hours to find Jimmy is still not home and later that morning Jimmy's employees, arriving at work, find him dead on lane five.  The murder weapon is an item Chance recognizes as something belonging to Dorthea.

I mustn't go further as beyond this point only spoilers abide.

This novel could almost sit on the shelf beside the biggest names in mystery without blushing.  I have only two beefs with it and only one of those is definitely related to writing quality.  The other might be if looked at one way but is possibly a personal bias.

The first is the abundant use of descriptive words and phrases to substitute for the simple 'he said/she said' in dialog.  Often when characters opened their mouths they snipped, spat, spewed, fired off, fumed, broiled, wailed, pleaded, squealed, tittered, chimed, extolled, relayed, instructed, quipped, hissed, snarled, gushed, roared, thundered, whined, sputtered, squeaked, and oozed.

There is nothing wrong with a moderate amount of this stage direction but it gets annoying when overdone and especially when the words chosen do not jive with the mood or action of the scene.  Then the reader is jarred out of the story to do confused double takes and left with  incongruent images to contend with.  I found it most annoying when, during scenes where eating played a big role, words were spat, gushed, broiled, oozed or spewed.  And there was a whole lot of eating going on throughout.

My other beef which I own may be wholly personal bias was what seemed to me to be a huge imbalance between the descriptions of the high class environment inhabited by the Alcotts and the rest of the settings.  Whenever one of the Alcott sisters was on scene there would be a whole lot of itemizing of everything they touched or laid eyes on from clothing, furniture, wall hangings, and carpeting to handbags, jewelry, bedding and cars often with brand names and price tags included.

Whereas settings such as the police station, bowling alley and trailer park were given bare-boned descriptions--quite serviceable actually as it was enough to place the reader without intruding--that juxtaposed against the gushing over the ritzy homes and belongings of the Alcotts gave the impression that it might be the author and not just the three aging Alcott princesses who deems everything and everyone not of high-society unworthy of attention.

But the saving grace and the thing that belies that assumption is the development of Bambi's character after her husband's murder.  This seeming air-headed bimbo truly stepped up and evinced a moral integrity that topped everyone else's except possibly Chance.  She was blossoming and showing potential for and willingness to grow outside her comfort zone that none of the Alcott sisters seemed to have carried beyond their adolescence.

But as I said I am biased.  I live in a trailer park.  And I find it one of the most interesting and stimulating environs I've ever spent time in and inhabited by the most intriguing people.  But then I've never been anywhere near a neighborhood like Dorthea's.


I'm authorized to giveaway one ebook copy and since it is ebook that means this is open internationally.  The ebook is available in several of the most popular formats.

This drawing will be open until February 14, 2012. As usual I will be using to choose a winner.  

Enter by leaving a comment expressing interest on this post along with your @ so I can contact you.

Extra entries can be had by:

Following Joystory on Twitter  if you already do leave a separate comment saying so
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Tweeting once per day (leave the tweet's url in a comment here)
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For each one you do leave a comment here with the identifying url and/or your username.  Remember leave a separate comment for each task as the individual comments will be the entries that I assign numbers to in the order they are made.
Dawn Greenfield Ireland has been writing stories since attending summer camp around the age of seven. To date she has five completed novels (science fiction and contemporary), 15 completed screenplays (one optioned in 2009) and as many scripts in various stages of completion. Dawn is the author of two award-winning self-published books: The Puppy Baby Book (hardcover) and Mastering Your Money (print and eBook). Many of her screenplays have won awards. She spends her days editing and formatting engineering documents as a senior technical writer.

Follow the tour for more giveaway drawings, author interviews and guest posts:

Joy StoryFeb. 1 Review and Giveaway
Chocolate & MimosasFeb.  2 Review                  
Chocolate & Mimosas Feb. 3  Author Guest Post
Cafe of Dreams Book ReviewFeb. 3 Review                                   
Debbie’s Book BagFeb. 6 Review and Giveaway
Butterfly-O-Meter  Feb 7 Review                                    
Butterfly-O-Meter  Feb. 8 Author Guest Post
Butterfly-O-Meter Feb7-14 Giveaway Hop
My Life  Feb.8 Review, Excerpt, and Giveaway
Books and Quilts  Feb 9 Review and Giveaway                                      
Books and Quilts  Feb. 10Review and Giveaway                  
From the TBR PileFeb. 10 Author Guest Post
This Miss Loves to ReadFeb 13 Review                                  
Culinary CoziesFeb. 14Review               
Culinary Cozies Feb.15 Author Guest Post
Socrates’ Book ReviewsFeb. 16 Review and Giveaway              
Cheryl’s Book NookFeb. 16 Interview            
Cheryl’s Book NookFeb. 17 Review                            
Books & Beyond  Feb 20 Review
Books & Beyond  Feb. 21 Interview and Giveaway
WV StitcherFeb. 22Review                
Curling Up By The Fire Feb 23  Review
Curling Up By The Fire Feb. 24 Author Guest Post and Giveaway
Book Loving MommyFeb 27 Review
Book Loving MommyFeb. 28 Author Guest Post
To Read, Perchance to Dream Feb. 29 Interview and Giveaway

2 tell me a story:

Teddy Rose 2/01/2012 1:46 PM  

Thanks for participating in the tour. I'm glad you enjoyed this cozy!

Dawn Ireland 2/01/2012 6:26 PM  


Thanks for the great review! Glad you had a good time reading my novel! Using your feedback for book 2: Bitter Chocolate.


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