Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mystery Book Review: Heavenly Pleasures by Kerry Greenwood

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Heavenly Pleasures by Kerry Greenwood. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Heavenly Pleasures by Kerry GreenwoodBuy from Amazon.com

Heavenly Pleasures by
A Corinna Chapman Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-426-0 (1590584260)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-426-2 (9781590584262)
Publication Date: June 2008
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Baker Corinna Chapman is happy with her life. Jason, the former addict she rescued from her alleyway,, is shaping into a good apprentice. And her beautiful Israeli lover, Daniel, though away for the last couple of weeks, is as enchanting as ever.

Corinna has no intention of doing any more investigative work. At least until she bites into what should have been a lovely violet cream gourmet chocolate and instead finds a chili-filled catastrophe.

Corinna doesn’t want to see Juliet and Vivienne Lefebvre’s chocolate shop, Heavenly Pleasures, shut down. And quite frankly, it is just a crime to ruin those gorgeous chocolate confections. Is this tampering part of an elaborate and horrible joke, or is it a warning that worse may yet happen?

In the meantime, Daniel has returned bruised and battered from an encounter with a so-called messiah. Is the messiah somehow involved in this chocolate crime? And just who is the mysterious man who has moved into the upper apartment?

Review: Kerry Greenwood's second mystery featuring baker Corinna Chapman, Heavenly Pleasures, is a hodge-podge of crimes, characters, and cats with a bit too much of each the result being a less than satisfactory novel.

The mystery begins and ultimately ends in the building that houses Corinna's business, Earthly Delights, and a number of other diverse tenants including a self-proclaimed witch, a vegan who grows greens on the rooftop, a wealthy elderly woman who has recently rented an apartment, and a strange middle-aged man who will not talk with anyone. Also in the building is a fantastic chocolate candy shoppe, Heavenly Pleasures, owned by two sisters who make divine chocolates. Someone has maliciously injected chilies into their new violet crème flavor. Although not poisonous, it was certainly a crime and could drive potential customers away from the shoppe, ultimately forcing the sisters to close. What would this mean to the other small shoppes along the street? Corinna’s lover, Daniel, a private investigator, is asked to investigate. With Corinna’s assistance they are drawn into other crimes taking place in the area. There is a self-professed messiah taking advantage of young girls. A bomb has exploded in the quiet man’s apartment where the authorities find him tied up but alive. Corinna’s fifteen year old helper at the bakery, once an addict, is beaten and drugs forced into his system. Corinna and Daniel must get to the bottom of all this before it negatively impacts her beloved bakery.

Most of the problem with Heavenly Pleasures is with the character of Corinna. She comes off as somewhat cold and aloof, hard and cynical. She loves to bake, she loves cats, and she loves Daniel, although it's never quite clear what her priorities are as on any given day she seems willing to give up one for another. As with the first book in this series, Earthly Delights, there is no discernable plot here and though attempts are made to infuse some humor and make it more likeable, these efforts generally fall flat. The supporting characters are undoubtedly intended to be unique and memorable, but even this too largely fails to add depth and texture to the book. All this is so much more disappointing as Greenwood is also the author of the incredibly enjoyable Phyrne Fisher mysteries, a series so different (and better) than this one that it's hard to believe they are written by the same person.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of Heavenly Pleasures and to Poisoned Pen Press for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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