Nancy Fairbanks. Chocolate Quake: A Culinary Mystery With Recipes (2002) 290 pp. [pbo]
Food columnist Carolyn Blue and her husband Jason are in San Francisco where he is attending a convention. Carolyn has tagged along so that she can sample (and write about) the local fare. San Francisco is also the home of Carolyn’s radical feminist mother-in-law, Vera. When Carolyn calls Vera, she learns that she is in the San Francisco Jail on a charge of first-degree murder. Vera, who has been working at the Union Street Women’s Center, is accused of stabbing the center’s accountant to death. Although the evidence is purely circumstantial, the police believe that they have their murderer and have stopped investigating. Exasperated that her husband and his mother won’t take the situation seriously—Vera has been jailed plenty of times before—Carolyn decides to take matters into her own hands and solve the crime herself. Before she unravels the mystery, Carolyn meets a surplus of suspects who wanted the victim dead, gets herself shot at, and visits some of the most popular restaurants in San Francisco.