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Best Cosy Books

Chocolate To Die For (PAPERBACK)

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PAPERBACK. Book 4 in the Cocoa Narel Chocolate Shop Mysteries, cozy mystery series.

Cracks appear when a plumber is murdered...

Narel calls a plumber to fix the outdoor toilet behind her chocolate shop. Her best friend, Carl, finds the plumber dead. The initial diagnosis is a redback spider bite, but tests reveal that was a web of lies.

As cracks begin to form in the case, the police uncover nasty emails between Carl and the victim. As Narel chews on the problem, she finds that the plumber’s customers had nothing sweet to say about him. 

What happens when Narel uncovers Carl’s tightly wrapped secret?

Can Narel solve the murder before the situation becomes too sticky?

And will Narel's cat protect her from the purr-petrator?


 Paperback 248 pages
 Dimensions  5 x 0.56 x 8 inches (127 x 14.4 x 203mm)
 ISBN 9781925674545
 Publication date August 23, 2018
 Publisher  Best Cosy Books

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I looked at my new bathroom and smiled. “That will help sell the house, a lovely new bathroom like that.”
My best friend, Carl, grimaced.
“Don’t you like it?” I swept my hand expansively over the room. The old asbestos walls had been removed by specialists. The plumber had removed the old bath, vanity, and shower, and replaced them with a glass shower, a lovely new vanity, and a freestanding bath. I had been careful not to overcapitalise, but I thought it looked great.
Still, I was worried that Carl wasn’t as enthusiastic as I was. Carl had impeccable taste. “I know you don’t like the chocolate-coloured floor tiles because you like everything white,” I added. “It’s not too new for an old Victorian cottage, is it?”
Carl hurried to reassure me. “Not at all. It’s a beautiful job, to look at, at any rate. It’s just that I think the plumber charged you too much, Narel. I’m sure you didn’t need custom glass walls for the shower. Glass shower frames come in standard sizes.”
“But the plumber said the floors were uneven and the walls weren’t at right angles, so the frame had to be custom-made. Do you think he was lying?”
Carl shrugged. “I know he’s called Gold Service Plumbing, but he should be called Gold Rates Plumbing. He charges like a wounded bull.” Carl must have seen my face, because he patted me on my shoulder. “It does look lovely, and it will help sell your house. Bathrooms and kitchens always sell houses. Has your boyfriend found you a nice house to buy yet?”
I groaned. “You said you wouldn’t tease me about Tom anymore. He’s not my boyfriend.”
“Not yet.” Carl pulled a face. “At least he’s changed his name back from Borage. What a ridiculous name that was! Whoever calls himself Borage?”
I rubbed my forehead. Carl was usually in a cheerful mood, so I didn’t know what was wrong with him today. “You know he only changed his name so The Populars wouldn’t recognise him when he came back to town.” Carl, Tom a.k.a. Borage, and I had been at high school together, back in the day. The Populars were the popular kids who liked to bully everyone else mercilessly. The three of us had always been on the receiving end of their attentions. I had been particularly bullied, because I used to be terribly unattractive—so they had continually told me—and was obsessed with chocolate. For that reason, they had given me the cruel name, Cocoa Narel. It was a name that stuck, and I had since learnt to embrace it.
After a serious car accident, I spent many months in the hospital, having many surgeries. That meant I could now eat whatever I liked and not put on weight. I still ate a lot of chocolate, although I was trying to eat more healthy food, like fruit chocolate. I’m kidding. Sort of.
The Populars had come back to town for a school reunion and had not recognised the new, drop-dead gorgeous me. They had also not recognised Tom, because he had changed his name to Borage, and I suppose the fact that he had grown twice his height and muscled up helped as well. Carl was the same old lovable Carl he had always been. Nevertheless, most of The Populars had ended up murdered, by one of their own.
“You’re deep in thought, Narel,” Carl said.
“I was just thinking of The Populars,” I said, and then bent down to stroke my half-feral ginger cat, Mongrel. “And murders,” I added.
“It’s no time to think about murder,” Carl said. “It’s a beautiful evening. And you should feel good about yourself, because you rescued Mongrel from the shelter.”
I jabbed him in the chest. “Carl, you were the one who rescued Mongrel from the shelter, remember?”
We both looked down at Mongrel, who was eyeing us with his orange eyes, one of his ears bent at a strange angle. He meowed, showing a huge row of sharp, pointed teeth. “He’s come a long way since he was rescued.” Carl bent down to stroke him. “Remember when he wouldn’t even come out of his cat carrier basket?”
“I remember how he attacked all those people,” I said dryly.
Carl laughed. “He saved your life on more than one occasion, Narel, and don’t you forget it. Rescued animals are the best.”
I agreed. “They sure are. Anyway, I’d better get to the shop. The council said I have to remove that outdoor dunny.”
“It is a bit of an eyesore,” Carl admitted, “even though you can’t see it from the street. What are you going to put there instead of the outdoor toilet building? Perhaps a nice outdoor setting so we can sit out there in summer?”
I shrugged. “Perhaps. I just have to wait for Bob Jones to disconnect the water supply and whatever other plumbing stuff he has to do, and then I have to get someone with a backhoe to knock it down and take it away and then fill in the hole.” I paused for breath. “I’ll see what it looks like then. It’s hard to imagine the potential at the moment with that little wooden building dominating the space.”
“Oh no, you’re using Bob Jones from Gold Rates Plumbing again?” Carl sniggered.
“What do you have against him, Carl? Your house is too new to have had a plumbing problem, surely.”
Carl flushed bright red. “It’s just that I’ve heard he overcharges, that’s all. I bet he’ll charge you overtime for coming out after hours. You be careful, Narel.”
“It’s not as if I’m hard up for money,” I reminded him. “You know I got an absolute fortune in my settlement from the other driver’s insurance company.”
Carl shook his finger at me. “You have to live on that for the rest of your life, Narel. Sure, I know you have the chocolate shop for income, but you need something to fall back on.”
I knew Carl was right, but I was careful with money. “Have you ever found a cheap plumber?” I asked him. Before he could answer, I continued. “I’d better run. I wish Bob could come in daylight hours, but he’s doing me a favour coming at night. After all, the council will fine me if I don’t get the dunny removed fast. Bob was fully booked, so you have to admit that it’s good he fitted me in.”
Carl simply scowled.
“Would you like to come with me?”
Carl declined. “I have to get back to Louis the Fourteenth. I’ve been so busy lately, and he’s missed me.”
Louis the Fourteenth was Carl’s Persian cat, a former show champion. “But you work from home. You’re home all the time.”
Carl flushed red. “Um, no, um,” he stammered. “That’s right. I just haven’t given him enough attention.”
I had the weirdest sensation that Carl was hiding something, but what would he hide from me, his best friend?
I dropped Carl back at his house and continued on to my chocolate shop, Cocoa Narel Designer Chocolates.
Although we had agreed to meet at seven, and it was ten minutes to seven, I saw Bob Jones’ ute parked out the front of my shop. I walked around the side of my shop, down a little alleyway, through the tall wooden gate, and into the courtyard, in the middle of which sat the little wooden building.
Bob Jones was already bent over the outdoor dunny, a large spanner in his hand. I averted my eyes from the largest plumber’s crack I had ever seen. “I won’t need to see the Grand Canyon now,” I muttered to myself.
Bob Jones swung around. “Narel. I thought I’d get an early start.”
I hoped he was not going to charge me by the hour and charge overtime for arriving early. “Is it going smoothly so far?” I asked hopefully.
Bob snorted. “You should know by now, Narel, that plumbing jobs never go smoothly, not with an old house.”
“This isn’t an old house. It’s an outdoor dunny, a toilet,” I said as my last vestiges of hope for a low bill fled.
He shook his head. “This is an ancient toilet, and it hasn’t been used in many years. It’s going to take me a lot longer than I thought to disconnect it from the water supply. See how it’s not like a modern one?” He pointed to the wooden bench over the ancient looking toilet, and then wiped cobwebs off his face. “It’s just a wooden seat on top of a wooden bench over a cistern. It’s gotta be a hundred years old if it’s a day. And I’m going to have to pull out this wooden floor to get to it, too. It’s going to cost a lot more than I quoted. Maybe ten times as much.”
“But you said that about the bathroom in my house,” I said in a small voice.
Bob shrugged. “What can I tell you, Narel? It’s just the way it is. Anyway, come and have a closer look.”
I edged closer, not wanting to get too close as I didn’t like spiders, plus the smell was unpleasant, to say the least. “It’s very dark inside there,” I said. “I’ll take your word for it.”
“I’ve just gotta pop home and get some more tools for this,” Bob said. “I’ll be right back. Are you going home or do you wanna hang around in case I find something else wrong?”
“I’ll go to my shop and do some work. I’ll be there if you need me.”
Bob stood up and shut the old wooden dunny door behind him. “I’ll sing out if I have a problem.”
I went into my shop. I did some cleaning, and then rewarded myself with a steaming mug of hot chocolate and some dark chocolate peppermint creams. Thankfully, Bob had not come in to tell me that he had found anything else that would escalate the bill even more than it already was.
Eventually, I looked at the time on my phone, my eyes tired from doing the accounts, and saw it was almost ten. Surely it wouldn’t take someone three hours just to disconnect the water supply to a toilet, no matter how ancient it was?
I knew Bob wouldn’t leave without telling me, especially as he knew I was in the shop, working. After all, the shop lights were on and anyone could easily see me sitting there. I peered out the window, and sure enough, his ute was still there. Just after ten, I officially gave up. I decided to go and tell Bob that I was heading home.
Rather than walk through the back of my shop, I went around the front and up the side, just in case Bob was leaving. As my hand reached for the gate, it was flung open hard. Someone barged through and knocked me to the ground.
I sat up and rubbed my grazed hands. “Bob!” I called out. Why had Bob been in such a rush to leave? And surely he would have noticed bowling me over!
I stood up, gingerly, and felt something wet on my elbow. I pulled my hand way and examined it under the moonlight. Blood. I hurried down to the street to see if Bob was still there, so I could give him a piece of my mind, only to see his ute. There was no sign of Bob. Who, then, had knocked me over?
I walked back through the open gate and into the courtyard. From where I was, I could see Bob’s legs sticking outside the dunny door.
I hurried over to him and opened the door wider. To my shock, his head was in the toilet. I gasped. “Bob! Don’t put your head in that toilet!”
He didn’t reply, so I flicked on the torch on my iPhone and shone it inside.
I screamed.
The wooden bench directly behind the toilet seat was absolutely covered with redback spiders.

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