Title: Holly Jolly Fudge Folly
Author: Christine DeSmet
Reviewed by: Kerri Lukasavitz
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published:October 23, 2023
Length: 359 Pages
Ava Oosterling is preparing her Blue Heron Inn for guests and stocking her shared-with-her-grandfather Oosterling’s Live Bait, Bobbers, Belgium Fudge, and Beer Shop for the upcoming Saint Nicholas Festival in Fishers’ Harbor, Door County, Wisconsin in Christine DeSmet’s newest book, Holly Jolly Fudge Folly—the sixth book in her Fudge Shop Mystery Series. The busy Christmas holidays are quickly approaching as Ava makes batches of holiday fudge for her shop and prepares to be the maid of honor for her best friend, Pauline—with her authentic Victorian wedding—as well as deepening her rekindled relationship with her ex-husband, Dillon, and their new engagement. But when the county’s tax assessor is found stabbed to death in his car, buried under a pile of fresh snow packed in from the plow driver—who happened to be her grandfather during an angry rage to get back at the real plow driver for smashing his mailbox—the festive holidays are tarnished with not only the sheriff’s investigation into the assessor's death but also Ava’s determination to find the killer and clear her grandfather of any wrong-doings despite the evidence stacked against him.
DeSmet’s description of Door County is stunning. She gives her readers a true sense of place in the story, with accurate historical details in the landscape, area harbor towns, and the settling families in the area such as, “Door County and other nearby counties used to be the origin of not only Christmas trees for Chicago but also wood shingles and lumber that helped build and rebuild the city after the 1871 fire. Timber for those shingles was felled and processed by Scandinavian, Icelandic, and Belgian immigrants, including my own ancestors.” Her characters are deeply individual and believable. But what DeSmet does best is cast doubt on who committed the murder and why. Eight village people head up the list of possible suspects, including Ava’s grandfather, but when someone is considered the culprit, more motives are revealed, creating doubt with the previous suspects and implicating new ones. Readers will turn pages until almost the end before discovering “who done it.”
Cozy mysteries are not a genre I normally read. However, I think DeSmet’s fans as well as new readers of the Fudge Shop Mystery Series will enjoy Holly Jolly Fudge Folly. DeSmet even includes a recipe for Holly Jolly Folly Fudge at the back of the book for readers to make and enjoy. Overall, I thought it was an entertaining story—I did find myself needing to read on to see who actually committed the murder. The novel would make a great holiday gift for those who love a good cozy mystery, especially one set in Door County, Wisconsin.
Reviewer Kerri Lukasavitz is the award-winning author of the Oak Lane Stable Novel Series—books inspired by her lifelong passion for horses. With almost three decades as a horsewoman and a recent return to riding in her sixth decade, she brings her stories to life with drama pulled from the realities of the show world through the eyes of a young rider. She has a BFA from Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design and an MA from Mount Mary University in English—with an emphasis on writing for Middle Grade/Young Adult Readers and Literature.
Wisconsin Writers Association
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