A SHOT IN THE 80% DARK
Bean to Bar Mysteries, Book 4
Cozy Mystery / Culinary Mystery / Woman Sleuth
Publisher: Golden Tip Press
Date of Publication: July 15, 2022
Number of Pages: 285 pages
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Felicity Koerber’s bean to bar chocolate shop is thriving. Despite everything she’s been through with the murders she’s helped solve, Felicity is ready to take on new challenges. So when a local museum offers her a contract to create a chocolate replica of a gigantic sailing ship sculpture for a gala celebrating Galveston’s history, she jumps at the chance to combine chocolate-crafting with art.
The project is fun – right up until there’s not just one but two dead artists on the scene, and Felicity has to change gears back to detective. Logan, Felicity’s business partner and previous bodyguard, and Arlo, Felicity’s ex who is now the cop investigating the case, are split on which victim they think was actually the intended one. Felicity may have to take some chances, both emotionally and in luring out a killer, to determine the truth.
Can she find out how Galveston’s history relates to the murders, unmask a killer, and prepare 2,000 chocolate desserts for the gala all at the same time?
A well-plotted, crave-inducing addition to the Bean to Bar Mysteries series!
A Shot in the 80% Dark is a fine, well-plotted mystery that kept me entertained, guessing, and turning pages until the very end. Felicity, the main character, works hard and is serious about discovering who committed the precisely timed and very public murder. She goes to suitable sources, asks the right questions, and keeps her boyfriend, the lead detective on the murder case, informed and up-to-date on what’s she doing. Only little slip-ups put her in danger, and those felt like they were honest missteps. The ‘rookie mistake’ is actually claimed by Arlo himself! There are many viable suspects, and they are logically ruled out one by one. However, I didn’t know who was going to be the last suspect standing at any point until the killer was finally revealed, and I liked that the truth felt plausible because of the circumstances of the situation.
As the series continues, Felicity’s circle of friends expands and incorporates suspects from previous murders, old acquaintances, and frenemies. The author has done a great job with character development over the series, and I did feel the need to catch up with some of these folks. I like that there are so many recurring characters, even if they only get a mention or brief appearance in a story.
The story is naturally ‘choc’ full of chocolate-craft. Royer sprinkled in little tidbits of chocolate fact and fun throughout, and the result is a confection in and of itself. The story also has an extraordinary amount of pastry and other food discussions that had me craving a trip to Galveston. I learned so much (and had to google for more) and wanted to try all of the fictional delights the characters described.
The Galveston setting is fun and feels so familiar and comfortable. I loved hearing about different locations and sights, even just which end of the island the characters were on as they investigated. I enjoyed imagining all the small shops and businesses Felicity mentions or encounters during her day. The reminders of the damage from Hurricane Ike still having such an impact so many years later were quite sobering.
A wonderful part of this cozy mystery is the love triangle between the main characters. I could empathize with Felicity’s hesitancy to start another relationship yet. Her emotional struggle feeling the need to choose between two good men feels deep and genuine. Both men seem equally desirable, and it is no wonder she’d have a tough time making a choice, even if she wasn’t still grieving for her lost love. I felt the same genuineness in Logan’s and Arlo’s struggles with Felicity’s continued indecision. Still, both exude their concern and understanding that their need to be chosen as “the one” exerts a lot of pressure on her that she’s just not ready to handle.
A Shot in the 80% Dark is the fourth book in the Bean to Bar Mysteries, but the author provides enough backstory throughout for a reader who hasn’t read the previous books to have a great, entertaining reading experience. However, be warned that starting with this book will have the reader looking for the earlier stories; they are not to be missed.
I recommend A SHOT IN THE 80% DARK to readers who enjoy culinary-themed cozy mysteries, Texas-based cozies, Galveston, or chocolate…and who doesn’t like chocolate?
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Amber Royer writes the Chocoverse comic telenovela-style foodie-inspired space opera series and the Bean to Bar Mysteries. She is also the author of Story Like a Journalist: A Workbook for Novelists, which boils down her writing knowledge into an actionable plan involving over 100 worksheets to build a comprehensive story plan for your novel. She also teaches creative writing and is an author coach.
Amber and her husband live in the DFW area, where you can often find them hiking or taking landscape/architecture/wildlife photographs. If you are very nice to Amber, she might make you cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes, of course! Amber blogs about creative writing technique and all things chocolate.
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Autographed copies of
A SHOT IN THE 80% DARK
(US only. Ends Midnight, CDT, July 28, 2022)
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