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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Death by Chowder by Donna Walo Clancy is the first book in the Shipwreck Cafe Mysteries. Jay has returned home to Cape Cod after leaving a successful career as an attorney to start a new life by purchasing the lighthouse and converting it into the Shipwreck Cafe. His plans don't go exactly as he pictured, starting with an abandoned dog he finds at the cottage and the confirmation of truth behind the local tales of the lighthouse being haunted. The opening of the cafe goes smoothly until two murders connect back to Jay's new home and to rumors about buried treasure. Teaming up with his brother and the resident ghost, Jay comes up with a plan to catch the killer before someone else is murdered.
Jay's starting a new path in life with an entirely new career, going from an attorney to a cafe owner with the reasons for his leaving revealed over the course of the mystery. He has a new home and even makes a new companion, putting everything into a fresh beginning for him even though this is his hometown. The story opens with his discovery of a sweet dog he names Stormy who becomes his companion throughout this journey and murder mystery, helping him face these changes in his life. The mystery is complex and is rooted in the history of a dysfunctional family whose secrets are slowly uncovered. The murder adds suspense and danger as one murder leads to another with both connecting back to Jay. This helps put him directly into the middle and drives him to find answers.
Donna Walo Clancy incorporates an eerie ghostly factor to the story, bringing to life local legends as Jay discovers the truth about the ghost tales when he meets the resident ghost. The ghost connects the present to the history of the lighthouse through his own story and the truth behind his death. Though the story has a ghostly quality, Clancy keeps the tone as a typical cozy tale with the ghost more helpful than harmful. Death by Chowder offers a complex murder mystery, intense family dynamics, intriguing history, helpful ghosts, and treasure hunting. Clancy breathes new life into the genre by adding a supernatural touch to a cozy mystery.