DEATH BY CHOCOLATE CHIP CUPCAKE
Death by Chocolate Series # 5
March 29, 2022
I am always happy to revisit historic Eastport, Maine, where a lot happens in such a small town. When things happen (usually homicide), best friends and partners Jake Tiptree and Ellie White are always mixed up in it. We first met Jake and Ellie in Sarah Graves' first long-running series, Home Repair is Homicide. Jake is a transplant from NY who arrived in Eastport running away from an abusive ex-husband. Her young son, Sam, has drug problems and a penchant for getting into trouble, sometimes life-threatening. Jake also has a somewhat shady past as a money advisor for the NY mob. Ellie is a life-long Eastporter, down to earth with the Maine knowledge that Jake lacks. The first series is set against the background of Jake's endless rehabbing of her early 1800s house. In the second series, Jake and Ellie have opened a bakery called The Chocolate Moose.
When Death by Chocolate Chip Cupcake opens, Jake and Ellie are wondering how to keep the bakery open during the off-season for the locals. When a limo arrives carrying a somewhat faded Hollywood icon, Ingrid Merryfield, they think their prayers are answered. Ingrid claims that she was born in Eastport and has purchased Cliff House, a mansion that has been uninhabited for years. Cliff House has quite the reputation since multiple murders happened there, and the locals think it is haunted. Ingrid wants to hire The Chocolate Moose to cater a party she is throwing for a small group of friends. Jake and Ellie have plenty of questions, but the money is too good to turn down, enough to keep the bakery open through the winter. They can't find any evidence of Ingrid's Eastport birth, and why is she having a party before any renovations to Cliff House? And why does Ingrid need a very imposing bodyguard? There are plenty of spooky events at Cliff House, but neither Jake nor Ellie believe in ghosts. What worries them is the motley crew of guests Ingrid has gathered there. Some of them appear to be enemies rather than friends. A devastating storm sweeps in, stranding them all at Cliff House. Murders begin, and they have to get out somehow. The storm was so violent that no help was coming from Eastport or the Coast Guard.
All the Eastport characters have come to feel like friends over the years I have been reading both series. There are no lengths they will not go to for each other. This book is another action-packed entry for Jake, Ellie, Sam, and especially Jake's aging and ailing father. Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for an advance digital copy. The opinions are my own.