Cool Cache
by Patricia Smiley

New American Library, a division of Penguin Group, 2008. ISBN 978-0-451-22401-9.
Reviewed by Laura Strathman Hulka
Posted on 06/01/2008

Fiction: Mystery

Not long after starting this book, I had a serious fit of chocolate-envy! Just reading Cool Cache may require either large infusions of chocolate (specifically truffles), or willpower of steel! This delightful new addition to Patty Smiley's Tucker Sinclair series is filled not only with mouth-watering chocolates to read about, but also a fascinating mystery.

Tucker Sinclair and Associates is a business-consulting firm, although the only "associate" besides Tucker is her male "executive assistant," Eugene. Keeping a close eye on her clients brings Tucker into a murder case involving a client, an upscale chocolatier in Beverly Hills, and a quirky clue, a rare green Quetzal feather, native to Guatemala, and symbol of an East Los Angeles gang. The narrative quickly gets more complex when Eugene decides to go undercover, sucking poor Tucker into the case, despite her best intentions to stay out of it.

So many things keep this mystery (and others in the series) from being banal, or a run-of-the-mill cozy. Smiley pulls in sub-plots about gang activity, stolen antiquities from Guatemala, and (besides the awe-inspiring candy) a role reversal, gender-wise, as Tucker is soon riding to the rescue of her intrepid male assistant. Woman to the Rescue! This is the fourth book in the series, yet, even though a part of a series, each book stands alone magnificently.

I would have loved to see a recipe or two in the book for making chocolates—but of course, I still recommend this book highly. It treats the readers intelligently, addresses awkward subject matter, and stays within the bounds of the rules of cozies with its amateur detectives, clever plot twists and dynamic dialog and characterizations. Cool Cache is certainly perfect reading for a hot summer day or for a cool spring evening!

Patricia Smiley earned a BA in Sociology from the University of Washington in Seattle and an MBA from Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. She is Vice President of the Southern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and a member of Sisters in Crime, as well as a Specialist Reserve Officer for the Los Angeles Police Department. She lives in Los Angeles, where she is writing the next book in the Tucker Sinclair series and composing posts for a multi-author crime fiction blog, The Naked Truth About Literature and Life. Visit her website.

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