Chocoholic Mysteries by JoAnna Carl

All ­­­­the Chocoholic Mysteries feature Lee McKinney, a Texas beauty queen transplanted to a Michigan resort, where she is business manager for TenHuis Chocolade, a business owned by her aunt, Nettie TenHuis.

Nearly six feet tall and a half-Dutch natural blonde, Lee is often under-estimated because she tends to get her “tang toungled” when she’s nervous. She’s a direct descendant of Mrs. Malaprop.

In addition to a mystery, the books feature a behind-the-scenes look at the business and art of making fine, European-style bonbons, truffles and molded chocolates.

The setting of the Chocoholic books is the fictional resort town of Warner Pier, Michigan. Set on the shore of Lake Michigan, Warner Pier’s quaint atmosphere and gorgeous beaches draw thousands of tourists and summer visitors each year. Many of the visitors are wealthy. Many come from families who have owned summer homes in the area for a hundred years. New housing developments have attracted professionals who commute to Holland or Grand Rapids. The 2,500 “locals” are employed in tourism or in growing peaches, apples, grapes, and other fruit – a business that’s still going strong even as the area loses its original rural character.

 

The Chocolate Clown Corpse
Obsidian, November 2014. ISBN: 978-0-451-240675

Warner Pier is getting ready for Clown Week when a mysterious phone call links Lee to the death of a fellow Warner Pier business operator, Moe Davidson, who ran a business selling clown-themed items. But law officers have already arrested the apparent perpetrator, homeless man Royal Hollis. Then Lee mixes it up with a scary hobo wearing clown make-up, and Joe is asked to take over Hollis’s defense. Is the wrong man in jail?

 

The Chocolate Book Bandit
Obsidian, October 2013. ISBN: 978-0-451-23954-9

Mystery Guild Selection

Lee’s been asked to serve on the Warner Pier Library Board, but when she attends a meeting, one of the members dies after being shoved down the basement stairs. Can the new library director, “Butch” Cassidy, be involved? And why the community’s grand dame, Miss Ann Vanderklomp so antsy about the new library building?

 

The Chocolate Moose Motive
Obsidian, October 2012. ISBN: 978-0-451-23802-3

Mystery Guild Selection

Paperback Edition, October 2013

Lee hires a bookkeeper, Sissy Smith, to help her run the business side of TenHuis Chocolade. But it seems the personable young woman is the focus of vicious gossip. Her husband was found shot to death, and the resort town’s busybodies think she pulled the trigger. Is she innocent? If so, who’s guilty? Lee has to find out to keep the business going.

 

The Chocolate Castle Clue
Obsidian, October 2011. ISBN: 978-0-451-23474-2
Paperback Edition, October 2012

Mystery Guild Selection

Lee’s Aunt Nettie, her boss and best friend, is hostess for a reunion of her high school singing group, The Pier-O-Ettes. But their gathering inspires old memories – and murder. Lee must help her aunt figure out a 40-year-old mystery.

 

The Chocolate Pirate Plot
Obsidian, October 2010. ISBN: 978-0-451-23127-7
Mystery Guild Selection

Paperback Edition, October 2011

Lee and Joe Woodyard are on a sunset cruise on Lake Michigan when their antique power boat is boarded by pirates. At first the boarding seems to be a joke, but then a man is found drowned – and he has a Jolly Roger tattoo. Lee and Joe must find out what the pirates are really up to if they’re to stop a serious crime.

 

The Chocolate Cupid Killings
Chocolate Cupid Obsidian, October 2009. ISBN: 978-0-451-22797-3
Mystery Guild Selection

Paperback Edition, October 2010

Lee McKinney Woodyard and her aunt, chocolatier Nettie TenHuis Jones, are cautious helpers in that mysterious underground railway which assists abused women to escape to new lives. The appearance of a private detective looking for the woman they’re aiding sends up alarms – especially when the private eye is found dead, and Aunt Nettie is standing over him brandishing an empty Amaretto bottle.

 

Chocolate Snowman Murders
Obsidian, September 2008. ISBN: 978-0-451-22506-1
Mystery Guild Selection

Paperback edition, September 2009.

Lee McKinney Woodyard is involved with one of the pillars of small town America – a committee. She’s treasurer of the Warner Pier Winter Arts Festival planning Committee. This is a minor inconvenience until the juror for the arts show winds up dead, and Lee was the person who dropped him off at his motel. How do a small-town grand dame, a choir director, a sculptor, a shy publicist, and a sinister snowman fit in? Can even Aunt Nettie’s chocolate save the day?

 

Chocolate Jewel Case
Chocolate Jewel Case A Signet Mystery, August 2007. ISBN: 0-451-22188-5
Paperback Edition, September 2008

Lee McKinney and Joe Woodyard have looked forward to the first summer of their married life as a romantic idyll. So they’re not prepared to deal with five house guests – two teen-aged girls, an ex-con, a tough guy who claims to be a bird watcher, and Joe’s much-married aunt. Plus, a major heat wave arrives, a potential disaster for TenHuis Chocolade. Then their neighbors are hit by a jewel theft, and a mysterious dead man is found floating in Lake Michigan. Lee has to act quickly to avoid another murder.

 

The Chocolate Bridal Bash
Chocolate Bridal Bash A Signet Mystery, August 2006. ISBN: 0-451-21918-X
Paperback Original

Mystery Guild Selection

Lee McKinney is trying to get ready for her own wedding to Joe Woodyard, but her mother is threatening not to attend, purely because she doesn’t want to revisit Warner Pier, the town where she grew up. Then Lee discovers that her mother ran away from Warner Pier on the day she was supposed to marry her high school sweetheart. Why? Lee and Joe have to find out or their own marriage may be threatened.

 

The Chocolate Mouse Trap
Chocolate Mouse Trap A Signet Mystery, September 2005. ISBN: 0-451-21635-0
Paperback Original

Mystery Guild Selection

Lee McKinney has joined an e-mail newsgroup of west Michigan foodies – a caterer, a restaurateur, the owners of a bed and breakfast inn, and party planner Julie Singletree. But Julie’s corny jokes and poems are driving everybody on the list crazy. Then Julie’s found dead, and her pet mouse is missing. Can this have anything to do with the virus that hits the newsgroup’s computers? And why does Julie’s wealthy family think Lee has the answers?

 

The Chocolate Puppy Puzzle
Chocolate Puppy Puzzle A Signet Mystery, December 2004. ISBN: 0-451-21364-5
Paperback Original

Mystery Guild Selection

When a handsome older gent who claims to be a movie producer appears in Warner Pier, Lee’s suspicions are immediately aroused. But romance novelist Maia Michaelson is convinced the newcomer is going to make a film of her novel, and Aunt Nettie is being swept off her feet by the newcomer and his charming chocolate Labrador puppy. Soon Lee and boyfriend Joe Woodyard find themselves trying to solve a mysterious disappearance – and a murder.

 

Crime de Cocoa
Crime de Cocoa New American Library, December 2005. ISBN: 0-451-21694-6
Trade Paperback

Crime de Cocoa contains the first three Chocoholic Mysteries – Cat Caper, Bear Burglary, and Frog Frame-Up – in one volume. In addition, the only Lee McKinney short story, “The Chocolate Kidnapping Clue” is reprinted here.

 

 

The Chocolate Frog Frame-Up
Chocolate Frog Frame-Up A Signet Mystery, December 2003. ISBN: 0-451-20985-0.
Paperback Original
Mystery Guild Selection

When the town crank, Hershel Perkins, is missing, Lee McKinney’s boat-builder boyfriend Joe Woodyard is suspected of doing away with him. Lee is determined to prove that Joe had nothing to do with Hershel’s fate. But she doesn’t understand why the Old Root Beer Barrel, a local landmark, keeps getting involved.

 

 

The Chocolate Bear Burglary
Chocolate Bear Burglary Signet Mystery, November 2002 ISBN: 0-451-20747-5
Paperback Original
Mystery Guild Selection

When Aunt Nettie and Lee borrow an antique chocolate mold to use in a special promotion, they have no idea it will lead to burglary – and then to murder. The son of Lee’s former husband shows up in Warner Pier, and the 18-year-old boy seems determined to get in trouble. And Lee’s just as determined to keep him out of it. Family secrets keep peeping out, and Lee winds up running for her life.

 

The Chocolate Cat Caper
Chocolate Cat Caper Signet Mystery, March 2002 ISBN: 0-451-20556-1
Mystery Guild Selection
Paperback Original

Texan Lee McKinney comes to Warner Pier, Michigan, to help her aunt, Nettie TenHuis, get her chocolate business back on a firm financial footing. She’s barely arrived when Clementine Ripley, a notorious defense attorney who owns a lavish mansion in the resort community, drops dead – with a poisoned TenHuis chocolate clutched in her hand. This might be a liability even Lee’s accounting can’t turn into an asset. Lee’s determined to prove the death had nothing to do with her aunt’s business. But just where does Ripley’s ex-husband, Joe Woodyard, fit in?

 

SHORT STORIES

“The Chocolate Kidnapping Clue” By JoAnna Carl
And the Dying Is Easy
Signet Mystery Anthology, June 2001 – ISBN: 0-451-20329-1

Lee McKinney makes her debut as a detective in this story, which takes her back to age sixteen and her first summer as an employee of TenHuis Chocolade.