Sometimes you need a sweet tooth to take a bite out of crime . . .
Bailey King is living the sweet life as assistant chocolatier at world-famous JP Chocolates in New York City. But just when Bailey’s up for a life-changing promotion, her grandmother calls with news that her grandfather’s heart condition has worsened.
Bailey rushes to Harvest, Ohio, where her grandparents still run Swissmen Sweets, the Amish candy shop where she was first introduced to delicious fudge, truffles, and other assorted delights.
She finds her grandfather is doing better than she feared. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for a local Englisch developer, whom Bailey finds dead in the candy shop kitchen—with Jebediah King’s chocolate knife buried in his chest. Now the police are sweet on her grandfather as the prime suspect. Despite the sincere efforts of a yummy deputy with chocolate-brown eyes, Bailey takes it on herself to clear Jebediah. But as a cunning killer tries to fudge the truth, Bailey may be headed straight into a whole batch of trouble . . . (Goodreads)
First and foremost, I adopt a different rating system (of my own, of course) for cosy mysteries and I tend to be liberal with my rating.
That being said, it’s still not so frequent for me to give a cosy mystery 5-star rating unless I really enjoyed it.
With this book, Assaulted Caramel by Amanda Flower, I decided to go with my gut and give a full-star rating. This means, I enjoyed, and am satisfied with this book tremendously.
This is my second book from Amanda Flower since I read “Death and Daisies” a couple of years ago. I quickly harboured the impression that Flower is a strong writer back then, but this book upped the game even more and had my attention in its crutch, never letting it go till the end.
Plot-wise, the synopsis may look typical yet Flower concocted a very engaging and strong plot out of what could potentially end up a mediocre cosy mystery. She is strong at breathing life into characters, and particularly excels at the portrayal of the emotional shifts of the characters. The changes in the countenance sometimes told the story more eloquently than words, it made the book even stronger and more engaging, I could hardly put it down once I started reading it.
The setting is another thing that enticed me throughout. This book is set in an Amish community and the murder takes place in a candy shop that the protagonist’s Amish grandparents run.
I have heard of the word Amish before, but never had been exposed nor properly informed of what it really means just until recently when I watched some videos about Amish communities on YouTube. We tend to be interested and drawn to something we don’t really know or completely different, I think that is partially the reason why I enjoyed this book so much.
The introductions to Amish cultures and their lifestyle were nicely and seamlessly embedded into the story, acted as a nice flavour to an already intriguing book.
Mystery-wise, I am actually not a good judge because I am not a reader who plays detective.
That said, this book had me guessing who the murder was the entire time. Some characters look ostensibly suspicious or sinister to the extent I assumed that he/she is the killer, but I was always proven wrong and was sent off-scent by deftly placed red herrings. The twists and turns in the climax were especially well-done, keeping me on the edge of my seat and landed on a very neat ending. The author did a great job there.
The ending was a bit bittersweet; so many things happen to Bailey in such a short time and she also experiences some loss which comes in several shapes and forms. Still, she takes a strong step forward to move on, and makes a monumental decision in the end. It showcases her strength hidden underneath a meek, unassuming character, and it also alludes the further character growth as the series move on.
I wonder what would happen to Bailey in a new chapter of her life. We can’t forget the cute animal companions either – I expect the stray cat Nutmeg and Juliet’s pet pig, Jethro to play a vital role in the subsequent stories. I am already curious to find out, and kind of thirsty for the next book.