The Chocolate Frog Frame-Up (Chocoholic Mystery Series #3)

The Chocolate Frog Frame-Up (Chocoholic Mystery Series #3)

by JoAnna Carl

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reissue)

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For the Fourth of July, Lee McKinney and her aunt debut their latest confections-chocolate frogs-at TenHuis Chocolade. The first customer to buy a croaker is the town crank. But when he later disappears and police suspect foul play, it's a chocolate clue that leads Lee to the killer.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451209856
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/02/2003
Series: Chocoholic Mystery Series , #3
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 518,164
Product dimensions: 6.72(w) x 10.88(h) x 0.65(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

JoAnna Carl is the pseudonym of a multipublished mystery writer. She spent more than twenty-five years in the newspaper business, working as a reporter, feature writer, editor and columnist. She holds a degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma and also studied in the OU Professional Writing Program. She lives in Oklahoma but spends much of her summer at a cottage on Lake Michigan near several communities similar to the fictional town of Warner Pier.

Read an Excerpt

An Excerpt for Chapter 1

If you’re going to have a fistfight in a small town – and avoid a lot of talk about it – the post office is not a good place for the battle.

And shortly before five o’clock in the afternoon – when it seems ever merchant in town is dropping off the mail and lots of the tourists are buying stamps – is not a good time for it.

The fight between Joe Woodyard and Hershel Perkins erupted in the Warner Pier Post Office at 4:32 on a Monday afternoon in late June. Later I decided that it had been planned that way. And I didn’t think Joe was in on the plan.

I was one of the local merchants who witnessed the fight, since I walked into the post office with a handful of outgoing statements for TenHuis Chocolade just in time to hear Joe speak.

He sounded calm. “What are you talking about, Hershel?”

Hershel Perkins did not sound calm. He was almost shouting. “It’s about the old Root Beer Barrel. Don’t try to act innocent!”

“The old drive-in? I’m trying to sell it.”

“Yes, you money-grubbing piece of…”

Those were fighting words to Joe, I knew, because Joe – who happens to be my boyfriend – was in a financial hole right at the moment. It’s a long story, but he needed the money, even if he had to grub for it, and the sale of the dilapidated and abandoned drive-in restaurant might be the raft that kept his business afloat.

Joe raised his voice just a little when he answered. “What is your interest in this, Hershel?”

“I hear you might tear it down!”

“Tear it down? It’s already fallen down.”

“It’s a piece of history!”

“History?” Joe sounded puzzled, as well as annoyed. “It’s a bunch of boards lying in a parking lot. It’s junk.”

I was all the way inside the post office now, and could see Hershel. He seemed to be puffing himself up. Not that Hershel was all that small. He was at least five nine, just a few inches shorter than I am. He was around forty, with a broad face and a wide, narrow-lipped mouth that made him look like a frog. It was a resemblance he seemed to relish – he combed his thin hair flat and a always wore green shirts, flannel in winter and cotton in summer. Even his voice was a froglike croak, and he went places in a green canoe named the Toadfrog.

He gave an angry grunt. “Junk!” You call it junk? It’s vernacular architecture!”

Joe laughed.

Hershel went nuts. He rasped out incoherent phrases. Words like “typical commercial,” “innovation,” “rehabilitation,” “social geography,” and “culturally significant.” None of it made sense to Hershel, either. Hershel is not one of the brightest bulbs shining on Warner Pier, Michigan.

Joe tried to talk over the ranting, which meant he had to raise his voice. “Hershel, I already talked to the Planning Department. The Historic District Commission has no interest in that property since the building was destroyed by an act of God.”

Hershel kept up the angry bullfrog act, although hollering out “architectural ethnicity!” is not an effective way to argue.

Finally Joe did absolutely the worst thing he could have done – even worse than laughing. He turned his back on Hershel and reached for his post office box.

Hershel gave a loud roar and began to pummel Joe’s shoulders with both fists.

Joe whirled around, throwing up his elbows to protect his face. Then he caught hold of Hershel’s arms – first the left and then right – and he whirled again. He pinned Hershel against the wall of post office boxes, almost the way he had pinned his opponents to the mat in the days when he was a high school wrestling champ.

Hershel finally shut up.

“Hershel,” Joe said very quietly, “you can’t go around hitting people. Get in your canoe and paddle home.”

A couple of Warner Pier locals – one of them Hershel’s brother-in-law, Frank Waterloo – appeared beside Joe. From the back of the room I heard another deep voice, this one smooth and slightly accented with Spanish. It was our mayor, Mike Herrera. “Yes, Hershel,” he said, “pleeze go home. We have a forum for discussion of these design matters. You can bring it up at the Preservation Commission. There ees no need to battle it out here. Not weeth all our summer visitors as weetnesses.”

The altercation had upset Mike. I coud tell be his long “E’s.” Mike was born in Texas, and his accent usually tends more toward a Southwestern drawl than Spanglish.

Frank Waterloo, who’s a bald, hulking guy, made his voice soft and gentle as he spoke to his brother-in-law. “Let’s go, Hershel,” he said.

Joe let go of Hershel. Hershel eyed the ring of guys around him. I swear he flicked his tongue in and out like a frog after flies. Then he walked slowly toward the street door, ignoring Frank. After Hershel pulled the door open, he paused and looked back. “That’s what you say!” he said hoarsely.

He went outside, followed by Frank, then poked his head back in for a final croak. “I’ll file charges!”

And he was gone. Nervous laughter swept the post office, and a couple of guys went over to Joe and assured him they’d back him up if Hershel filed any kind of complaint.

“The guy’s crazy,” Trey Corbett said. “The Historic District Commission has no interest in seeing the Root Beer Barrel rebuilt.” Trey is a member of the commission.

“You haven’t voted yet,” Joe said.

Trey ran a hand over his thin, wispy hair and adjusted his thick glasses. To me, Trey looks like a middle-aged boy. He’s only in his mid-thirties, but his worried expression and nerdy appearance make him look as if he ought to be older. He doesn’t sport a pocket protector, but he looks as if he should.

Trey shook his head. “Besides, Hershel hit you first. You only punched him in self-defense.”

“Joe didn’t punch him at all,” I said. “He just griped – I mean ‘grabbed’! He grabbed him.” No harm in getting that idea foremost in the public mind right away.

Mike Herrera said, “Joe, you handled it as well as you could. But we sure doan want any gossip right at this point, do we?”

I wondered what that meant, but I decided this wasn’t a good time to ask. So I spoke to Joe. “Are you hurt?”

Joe shook his head. “I’m fine, Lee.” He turned to Mike and Trey. “Let’s forget it. Hershel’s just a harmless crank.”

“He’s a crank,” Trey said. “But that doesn’t mean he’s harmless. Some cranks wind up walking up and down the streets with an Uzi.”

“I’m no mental health expert,” Joe said. “See you later.” He turned to me. “You going back to the shop?”

“Oh, yeah. I’m there till closing.”

“I’ll walk down with you.”

I dumped my invoices into the proper slot while Joe closed his post office box an stuck his mail in his shirt pocket. We walked down Pear Avenue toward TenHuis Chocolade. TenHuis – it rhymes with “ice” – is where my aunt, Nettie TenHuis, makes the finest European-style luxury bonbons, truffles, and molded chocolate in the world and where I’d be on duty until after nine o’clock.

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The Chocolate Frog Frame-Up (Chocoholic Series #3) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
booklover_mew More than 1 year ago
There is mystery afoot in Warner Pier. Herschel Perkins is missing. Herschel aggravated almost everyone, but was basically harmless. What has happened to him? Aunt Nettie, owner of TenHuis Chocolade, is about the only person Herschel trusted, outside of his sister. He makes contact briefly with her niece Lee McKinney, to ask Aunt Nettie to meet him. But, when they arrive at the secret location, they find...well, you have to read the book. I love how Carl weaves a mystery into a book and adds yummy chocolate facts, and descriptions of the candy they make at TenHuis. I want to go there and indulge. Sad it is only fiction.
Doshia More than 1 year ago
Wonderful! When I was in high school and hated reading, this book was amazing! It made me excited about reading. I LOVE the series!
libra1018 More than 1 year ago
With the rest of the books in this series, I would recommend. Waiting for the latest book to come out in paperback.
cyderry on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lee McKinney, lives with her Aunt Nettie and works as the business Manager for the family chocolate business in Warner Pier, MI. She has a delicate relationship with Joe Woodyard and when he is implicated in the death of Herschel, the town crazy, Lee works to resolve the problem and clear his name.The clues are interestingly presented so that the reader follows along and puts the mystery to bed at the same time as the characters figure out the solution. A fun read!
koalamom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I finished this book in less than 24 hours - usually do. For chocolate lovers these are great mysteries. I fear I gain weight just reading them as they describe all the chocolates that are made in the shop in the book as well as give a nice history of chocolate, too.
francescadefreitas on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a quick cosy with a probable solution. While it is one of a series, the story was very self contained, and there were few references to 'off-book' events.There are periodic inserts of 'Chocolate Trivia' as advertised on the cover, I found these very annoying, both becuase they interrupted the flow of the story, and because many of the facts were speculative.
Carstairs38 More than 1 year ago
The town crank is murdered, but Lee's boyfriend Joe looks like the most likely suspect. Can she clear his name? Another light but fun book in this light series.
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