Candy, Cigarettes, and Murder
Chocolate Martini Sisters Mystery, #1
Brenda Whiteside and Joyce Proell
1st in Series
Setting – Wyatt, Arizona
Publisher: Independently Published
Publication Date: March 7, 2023
Page count: 266 pages
Digital ASIN: B0BN96RS4G
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About Candy, Cigarettes, and Murder
It’s a birthday weekend with the gift of murder.
Recently widowed, Emma Banefield looks forward to a getaway birthday weekend with her free-wheeling sister, Nicole Earp, sipping chocolate martinis at the peaceful, historic Dulce Inn. When a rude stranger, a nasty food critic, and a madhouse of temperamental artists greet them, all hope for a tranquil weekend evaporates faster than dew on a hot desert morning.
Overlooking the riotous atmosphere is doubly hard after Em discovers the body of a hotel guest, and a second murder affects Nic personally. Now, entrenched in a caper that pits them against a surly detective, they cozy up to a hotel staff hiding dangerous secrets to uncover clues to the killer.
Using their smarts and love of all-things mystery, will the Chocolate Martini Sisters solve the crime ahead of the obstinate Chief Detective or find themselves trapped in the middle of a third murder?
A planned sisters’ spa weekend at an upscale hotel results in murder instead.
Candy, Cigarettes, and Murder is the debut novel in authors Joyce Proell’s and Brenda Whiteside’s new Chocolate Martini Sisters Mystery cozy mystery series. I was hooked from the start. The engaging sisters, mature women of ‘a certain age,’ are the titular sleuths with an affinity for the chocolate martinis served up by a particular bartender at the Dulce Hotel’s Azul Restaurant and Bar, and they are a delightful pair of opposites.
I liked the sisters’ tradition of spending a spa-filled, chocolate martini-drenched weekend together at the local Dulce Hotel, catching up and celebrating each other’s birthdays. Emma, a recent widow, is more conservative, reserved, and introverted, while Nicole is a twice-divorced extrovert with a more colorful and outgoing temperament. The sisters are quite relatable. It is not a completely stress-free weekend for the pair. Em is finding it hard to relax; this is her first birthday without her spouse, and since her loss, she worries more about something happening to her son, Liam, who is on a hiking trip with friends. Nic has her own issues to deal with as well. Her ex-husband and the father of her only child is staying at the same hotel with his latest young girlfriend. The normally tranquil hotel is overrun with artists participating in the local arts festival the same weekend, with a juried competition in the lobby. Not to mention, the sisters keep discovering murder victims to add to the chaos.
The murders are simply done, yet stymie both the police and the sisters. The women, as frequent visitors and long-time guests at the hotel, boldly question anyone and everyone for information. There are numerous suspects, and the sisters build plausible scenarios and possible motives for each one before doggedly pursuing their hypotheses and crossing them off their list while the police conduct their official investigation. And although the two detectives are likable guys, I rooted for Em and Nic to solve the case first.
With its fun opening premise, likable and engaging characters, attractive hotel setting, and puzzling murder mystery, I recommend CANDY, CIGARETTES, AND MURDER to cozy mystery readers who enjoy a more mature, relatable set of sleuths and a small-town Arizona setting.
About the Authors
Joyce Proell is the award-winning author of Amaryllis, Eliza and the Cady Delafield mysteries: A Deadly Truth, A Burning Truth and A Wicked Truth. Along with her husband and little dog, Nellie, she lives in Minnesota in her very own little house on the prairie.
She loves to hear from readers. Visit her website at: www.joyceproell.com.
Brenda Whiteside is the award-winning author of romantic suspense, romance, and cozy mystery. After living in six states and two countries—so far—she and her husband have settled in Central Arizona. They admit to being gypsies at heart and won't discount the possibility of another move. They share their home with a rescue dog named Amigo. While FDW fishes, Brenda writes.
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