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Chocolate Quake: A Culinary Mystery with Recipes    by Nancy Fairbanks order for
Chocolate Quake
by Nancy Fairbanks
Order:  USA  Can
Prime Crime, 2004 (2003)
Hardcover, Paperback
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Writing as Nancy Fairbanks, author Nancy Herndon just gave me hours of pleasure - I'm referring to her cozy mystery Chocolate Quake.

Carolyn Blue, newly hired as a food writer, travels to San Francisco with her husband so he can attend a scientific conference. On arrival, Carolyn takes a deep breath and calls her mother-in-law, Professor Verna Blue. This woman is a committed activist who uses every opportunity to expound her views of the world and what is wrong with it.

Carolyn discovers that Verna is in jail - for murder! The woman is using her time in jail to good advantage, trying to help women incarcerated with her for what she considers invalid reasons. If a wife is being beaten and strikes back - well, that woman should not be arrested for battery. Good for Verna.

Even though the two women don't get along, Carolyn feels she must help to solve the murder that Verna obviously did not commit. The reader gets a taste of San Francisco, its quakes, and its wonderful edibles - some of which the author shares, recipes and all.

Though first published in 2003, Chocolate Quake loses nothing through the intervening years. It's an enjoyable novel with interesting characters and some very good food. The plot is a little loose - but what the heck, it's a fun read.

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