Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Cozy Mystery Blog Tour: Author Guest Post, Review & Giveaway: The Chocolate Clown Corpse (A Chocoholic Mystery #14) by JoAnna Carl

Revenge is sweet for a killer on the loose—and it all started with the murder of Warner Pier’s most hated clown....

Everyone who knew the bozo wanted him dead. Odd, then, that a complete stranger was accused of bursting Moe Davidson’s balloons. But it’s been a month since the miserable shop owner of Clowning Around was killed, and everybody’s moving on, including Lee Woodyard. Her chocolate shop, TenHuis Chocolade, is next door to Moe’s shuttered tourist trap, and it’s giving her delicious ideas to expand. But over whose dead body?

Moe’s widow, Emma, and her two stepchildren list the property for sale, but when Lee tours the building, she finds Emma unconscious. Now Lee wonders whether Moe’s real killer is still at large and is taking care of unfinished business. Unfortunately, since the town is celebrating Clown Week, there are so many potential suspects in grease paint and floppy shoes it’s not even funny.

For Lee, protecting Emma, freeing an innocent man, and rolling out hundreds of her clown-themed chocolates is a pretty tall order. But so is staying alive long enough to find out which one of her neighbors is a killer in disguise.

Includes Tasty Chocolate Trivia!

By JoAnna Carl

            When my editor asked me to start a new cozy series, I felt totally blank. After all, he’d previously been asking for “harder edged,” which is editor-speak for “more sex and violence.”
            Now he wanted cozy?
            “Just what is cozy?” I asked myself. Cats? Quilts? Tea? Chocolate?
            At that word my heart leapt with joy. What could be cozier than chocolate?
And I had a daughter in the chocolate business!
What fabulous access to inside information for research! Someone I could call at ten o’clock at night and ask the melting point of chocolate! Wow!
            Before I got through I had added a blond heroine who was an accountant. Well, yes. It just so happens that I also have a blond daughter who’s a CPA.
She is also among a group of my more interesting relatives who 1) are extremely intelligent and 2) get their words mixed up. It’s called “Malapropism” and it can be hilarious.
When this daughter was 16, unbranded products became popular in the nation’s grocery stores. She found this trend interesting.
“Michelle’s mom bought some of that geriatric beer,” she told me. I think she meant generic.
Malapropism makes people underestimate the insight and abilities of those afflicted with it, a real advantage for a fictional detective. And believe me, anybody who can pass the CPA exam has lots of insight and abilities. Even if she does mix up “empathy” and “apathy.”
Anyway, with access (I thought) to information about both chocolate and accounting, I was all set. And I’ve milked my daughters’ knowledge for fourteen books, including in my new opus, THE CHOCOLATE CLOWN CORPSE, to be published in November.
            My son didn’t have such an obvious role in the inception of the Chocoholic books. He is the only one of my offspring who is a book freak like his mother. He is a college librarian now working on his third graduate degree. It took me thirteen books before I could work in a suave, good-looking librarian – with A Secret – into the series. Such a person appears in THE CHOCOLATE BOOK BANDIT. Its paperback edition will be out in November.
            Now I want to make it clear that none of the characters in my books are anything like any of my kids. And not one of my kids has ever stumbled over a body, found a clue, or taken part in a car chase.
The characters are themselves, and, believe me, so are the kids. But if I hadn’t had that germ of an idea about my daughter answering questions about chocolate, if she hadn’t been willing to give me a tour of her work place, if her boss hadn’t been friendly and cooperative – well, my initial realization that chocolate was the coziest thing in the world might never have become a series.

JOANNA CARL is the pseudonym for the multi-published mystery writer Eve K. Sandstrom. The author writes about the shores of Lake Michigan and has been reviewed in Michigan newspapers as a “regional writer.” She has also written about Southwest Oklahoma and once won an award for the best book of the year with an Oklahoma setting.

Eve K. Sandstrom is an Oklahoman to the teeth: she was born there, as were five previous generations of her mother’s family. Both her grandfathers and her father were in the oil business, once the backbone of Oklahoma’s economy. One grandmother was born in the Choctaw Nation, and Eve is a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Eve and seven other members of her immediate family are graduates of the University of Oklahoma. Eve even knows the second verse of “Boomer Sooner.”

Eve wrote two mystery series: the “Down Home” books, set on a ranch in Southwest Oklahoma, and the Nell Matthews mysteries, semi-hard-boiled books laid in a mid-size city on the Southern Plains.

But Eve married a great guy whose family owned a cottage on the west coast of Lake Michigan, not far from the Michigan towns of Fennville, Saugatuck, and Douglas. Every summer for more than forty years she, her husband and various combinations of children and grandchildren have trekked to the community of Pier Cove for vacations that lasted from two weeks to three months.

The area features gorgeous beaches, lush orchards, thick woods, and beautiful Victorian houses. Eve grew to love it. So when her editor asked her to come up with a new, “cozy” mystery series, Eve set it in a West Michigan resort town, scrambling up Saugatuck, Douglas, South Haven, Holland, Manistee, Ludington and Muskegon with her own ideas of what a resort ought to be to create Warner Pier.

As further background, she plunked her heroine into a business which produces and sells luscious, luxurious, European-style bonbons, truffles and molded chocolates. Most small towns couldn’t support a business like this, but the resorts of West Michigan – with their wealthy “summer people” – can. The “Chocoholic Mysteries” were on their way.

Eve’s editor requested that she use a pen name for the new series, and Eve picked the middle names of her three children, Betsy Jo, Ruth Anna, and John Carl. “JoAnna Carl” was born. So that’s how JoAnna/Eve became a regional author in two widely separated regions.

JoAnna/Eve earned a degree in journalism at the University of Oklahoma and also studied with Carolyn G. Hart and Jack Bickham in the OU Creative Writing Program. She spent more than twenty-five years in the newspaper business, working as a reporter, editor, and columnist at The Lawton Constitution in Lawton, Oklahoma. She took an early retirement to write fiction full-time.

She and her husband, David F. Sandstrom, have three grandchildren, whom they love introducing to the lore of their two homes – Oklahoma and Michigan.

She spent 25 years in the newspaper business as a reporter, feature writer, editor, and columnist, most recently at the Lawton Constitution. She holds a degree in journalism from the University of OK and also studied in the O.U. Professional Writing program. She lives in Oklahoma but summers in Michigan where the Chocoholic Mystery series is set. She has one daughter who is a CPA and another who works for a chocolate company and provides yummy insider information on the chocolate business.

Author Website 

Aside from the fact that I am absolutely terrified of clowns (yikes!), this book was so much fun.  It's such a silly, yet creative story with a great mystery.  The characters that everyone has known since book one make their always welcome appearance, and Lee is the sleuth we've grown to love her as.  The setting, the pacing, the writing - all superb!  

This series is a long-running favorite of myself and so many others, and this book is a wonderful addition to it.  I'm looking forward to the next :) 

Rating: 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All conclusions reached are my own.  

Thanks to the awesome ladies at Penguin, I have 1 paperback copy of The Chocolate Clown Corpse by JoAnna Carl to give away to one of my lucky readers!  Just enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win, and be sure to keep checking back for more awesome giveaways!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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