Heavenly Pleasures by Kerry Greenwood

The second in the Corinna Chapman mystery series, Heavenly Pleasures, is about Corinna’s nearby store neighbor, a chocolaterie of the same name as the title. Corinna and her boyfriend, Daniel, are surprised when Corinna finds herself spitting gifted chocolates into her sink — because someone has removed the cream with a needle and injected hot sauce. Daniel is hired as a private detective to install security cameras and monitor the business. All this drama is right on the heels of the first novel, Earthly Delights. In fact, only one month has passed since the first page of that first book.

Once again, Greenwood uses multiple mysteries instead of creating one strong enigma. Prior to the hot sauce debacle, Daniel had been hired to find a missing girl who was kidnapped and held in a cult by “Darren the God boy.” Corinna, Daniel, and their friend Sister Mary visit this man in prison, and all I could wonder was how three randos got through prison security to speak with a polygamist criminal abusing women and girls. No background checks, no screenings, not on the visitor’s list? Who do they think they are? Perhaps prisons are open like post offices in Melbourne?

While Daniel works on a third mystery, a girl who worked for Heavenly Pleasures but has run away from home, Corinna goes to question the employees of the chocolate shop. Daniel has not asked her, she did not set up an appointment with them; she simply showed up and asked things that she thought a detective would without permission or prompting. Frustratingly, part of her character is she hates being part of mysteries, so why does she get involved voluntarily? Other mysteries thrown in: reclusive new neighbor, hush-hush detective, and missing kitten.

What really prevented me from enjoying Heavenly Pleasures — which I chose to DNF 122 pages in, by the way — was how Corinna reintroduced every character and mystery from the first novel to readers. I was one-hundred pages in and she was still repeating who was who. There was so much repetition that I started to feel like I was getting the Cliff’s notes from Earthly Delights. Had the characters been further developed, I would have forgiven the flaws.

Except Corinna follows the same routine: wake up at 4:00AM, feed her in-door cat, make coffee, remind us she doesn’t speak until she’s three cups in, pick up the dead rats and mice her outdoor cats killed and feed them, let them out so they can get scraps from the sushi restaurant nearby, let her apprentice in, open the door and remark on the silence of Melbourne at 6:00AM, realize she’s on her third cup and open the bakery, misidentify her sales clerk because there are two of them and they’re both thin, and then sell out of bread.

This routine happens so many times between Earthly Delights and Heavenly Pleasures that I didn’t even have to look at notes or the novels to remind myself. And in all that, where is Corinna’s passion? She never talks like a baker: bread smells, good crumb, cutting and distributing fruits and nuts into the bread, crisp crusts, etc. Mostly, she complains that a regular customer orders gluten-free bread daily. She says she doesn’t care if they eat it, she cares if they buy it. She’s not wrong about the importance of paying customers . . . but I’m having a hard time buying her love of bread.

For me, the flaws of the first Corinna Chapman mystery were repeated and exacerbated in Heavenly Pleasures, and so I gave up, uninterested, overwhelmed by the number of characters named, and caring little about who injected chili sauce into gourmet chocolates, which creeps more into cozy mystery territory than I’m comfortable with. I won’t be finishing this seven-book series after all.

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20 comments

    • Thanks, Liz! I’m disappointed because a whole series starring a fat woman was enticing. I had even planned to read the book Trick or Treat in October. I shall have to find another Halloween-themed novel to replace the Corinna Chapman book I had planned.

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    • I expect some recap because readers are often waiting ages for a book to come out. Even one year feels like forever, and a small recap is a benefit. I see this in Mercedes Lackey’s books that Jackie and I are reading together. But this went on for most of Heavenly Pleasures… I’m not sure why I’m reading so many series in 2019. I typically NEVER read series. In the words of Tyler Durden, “You met me at a very strange time in my [reading] life.”

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      • Yes, a couple of sentences to jog the memory can be helpful, but lengthy recaps have always bothered me. Especially like this one you mention going on and on throughout the second book! It begins to make a reader wonder whether the author really wanted to write a second story or just remind readers that she wrote the first…

        As long as you’re enjoying all the series, that’s what counts! My reading has gone through so many phases I’m not even sure what I’d say is typical for me anymore. In any case, I look forward to seeing wherever your reading takes you! I quite enjoy your reviews. 🙂

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        • That seriously warms my heart, Emily. Thank you so much! Series can be tricky because it’s easy to lose blog readership for a variety of reasons.

          Side Note: In David Copperfield there is a character named Little Em’ly, and I keep saying that in my head instead of your name, lol.

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          • Ah yes, series can be harder on review readership. That’s probably played a subconscious role in my slow move away from series over the last couple of years.

            That’s hilarious! I’ve always had a hard time reading about characters with my name (and there are so many!) because whenever the book says “and Emily did [x]” I feel such a disconnect, like “I would never!” 😅 I’ve not found a literary Emily I really relate to yet. But I haven’t read David Copperfield! And it’s such a common name, there’s definitely still hope.

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  1. Yikes. Definitely staying away from this series! I love mysteries, and I love cozy mysteries, but this sounds boring and awful. The extensive recap reminds me of The Babysitter’s Club books – I could always skip at least one chapter in those books due to the recap/reintroduction of all of the members of the club.
    Also, sounds like one couldn’t jump in and pick up book two without being spoiled for book one. But on the other hand…it also sounds like someone could just start in the middle of the series and not have to read the earlier books to get the characters.

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    • Honestly, I’m not sure if a person could jump in wherever. A quick recap is the type of information that doesn’t stick with me if I’m reading it on it’s own (basically, if I started with Heavenly Pleasures and skipped Earthly Delights).

      It’s funny that you mention Babysitter’s Club. My nieces were just telling me today that they read that series. I guess it’s still going! I felt the same way about the first several pages of ever Sweet Valley Book. I can rattle off about Jessica and Elizabeth being perfect size sixes with sun-kissed blond hair and aquamarine eyes, and how they’re identical so the only way to tell them apart is by their matching lavalieres, which they got on their 16 birthday, or by Elizabeth’s heart-shaped mole on her left shoulder. No, I did not Google any of that. HA!

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  2. How disappointing! Your review of the first book made it sound like a fun series. Also, injecting chili sauce into chocolates sounds more like a prank than a crime. Is that even harmful? Like, how spicy is the sauce? It’s such a tiny amount…

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    • I completely agree! The first book was lovely and rich, and this one just felt silly and lazy. I didn’t even think about how small of an amount of chili sauce it would be, but you’re right — it’s minuscule. I think someone was trying to put this woman out of business by angering customers, so that’s less of a murder mystery than a whodunnit in the traditional sense.

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