A Shot in the 80% Dark (Bean to Bar Mysteries)
by Amber Royer
About A Shot in the 80% Dark
A Shot in the 80% Dark (Bean to Bar Mysteries)
4th in Series
Golden Tip Press (July 15, 2022)
Paperback : 268 pages
ISBN-10 : 1952854148
ISBN-13 : 978-1952854149
Digital ASIN : B0B4FFZDWH
Felicity Koerber’s bean to bar chocolate shop thriving. Despite everything she’s been through with the murders she’s helped solve, Felicity is ready to take on new challenges. So when a local museum offers her a contract to create a chocolate replica of a gigantic sailing ship sculpture for a gala celebrating Galveston’s history, she jumps at the chance to combine chocolate-crafting with art.
The project is fun – right up until there’s not just one but two dead artists on the scene, and Felicity has to change gears back to detective. Logan, Felicity’s business partner and previous bodyguard, and Arlo, Felicity’s ex who is now the cop investigating the case, are split on which victim they think was actually the intended one. Felicity may have to take some chances, both emotionally and in luring out a killer, to determine the truth.
Can she find out how Galveston’s history relates to the murders, unmask a killer, and prepare 2,000 chocolate desserts for the gala all at the same time?
The bird looks me straight in the eye and says, “If you do that, I’ll kill you.”
I freeze, my hand halfway out to touch the edge of the sculpture the big white bird is perched on. The sculpture is of a pirate ship, roughly seven feet tall, plus the mast. I hadn’t noticed the bird perched at the mast’s bottom tier –until it had moved, startling me. Now, it makes a sudden dip forward, like it might fly. I jump, and pull my long brown hair back from my face.
The bird says, “Hey!”
“Pardon?” I ask, feeling stupid for talking to a bird like it’s a person. It’s a cockatoo, I think, and I’m not sure what it’s doing in an art museum.
“If you do that,” the cockatoo repeats, stretching so that its yellow crest arcs upwards, “I’ll kill you.” It looks deathly serious, with round black eyes focused in on me. I’m in my early thirties, with freckled cheeks and pale skin that goes red in the sun – or when I’m embarrassed. My cheeks are probably crimson right now.
“I wasn’t going to touch the sculpture,” I tell the bird, though I totally was. I’ve been offered a commission to re-create this hodgepodge of iron and brass and marine salvage – out of chocolate. I’m here to consider what I’m getting myself into before I say yes, and some of the salvaged pieces that have been used to make up the mosaic that is the body of the ship are fascinating – especially the shiny telegraph disk marked with different engine speeds, part of a dial about the size of my splayed-out hand.
I’m wondering if that instrument, recreated out of chocolate, could have as much crisp detail as the real thing. I think with the right technique, it could. Though, honestly – I’ve never done anything like this before. I’m a craft chocolate maker, which means I focus more on coaxing flavor out of fermented cacao beans. My work is similar to that of a winemaker or a coffee roaster. And like a wine maker, I source each batch of beans from a specific farm or collective, to celebrate the unique qualities – from fruity to smoky – that make the chocolate grown in that place special.
My shop does do bean-to-bonbon, so I do have a few cute molds to work with. But the scale of this sculpture is beyond what could be created from a single mold. Parts of it would likely have to be 3-D printed, just to get it done in time. And, after all, the main issue I have with this project is the timeline this museum already has in place. My addition was an impulsive whim on the part of the museum director, and she doesn’t seem to understand the term last minute. The gala where I would be presenting the sculpture – along with chocolate bonbons and 2,000 chocolate desserts – is in two weeks. Which means I would be asking a lot from my shop’s staff and my business partner if we take this project on.
I hold up my phone and tell the bird, “I’m just going to take pictures of the details.”
The cockatoo raises a foot and says, “Pieces of eight.” Like it’s been watching pirate movies. And thinking about money.
“Tell me about it,” I say, as I start taking close-up pictures of the different salvage pieces that have been used, focusing in on each one separately. 3-D printing is expensive. I’d recently done a three-foot-tall sculpture of Knightley, my lop-eared bunny, as part of a display for my shop. Knightley is the mascot for Greetings and Felicitations, and his picture is on the wrappers for most of my bars, which are printed with space where people can write a message, making the bar double as a greeting card. I have a neon sign up on the wall with the bunny outline that I’ve used as a logo from the beginning. But I had wanted something more realistic, to draw people in and show what can really be done with chocolate. I’d had a disagreement with Logan, my business partner, over whether the Knightley sculpture was worth the outlay of cash, and he had only deferred because the shop was my original vision.
But if I get this commission–in part because someone had seen the Knightley sculpture and recommended me–the fee the shop will be paid will justify my original decision. And Logan will have to admit it. That’s a little petty, I know, but the relationship between me and Logan is complex. I need his respect, but there’s also a playful banter thing between us that’s been stressed by the disagreement, and I want to get that back.
“If you do that,” the cockatoo says. This time it doesn’t finish the sentence.
About Amber Royer
Amber Royer writes the CHOCOVERSE comic telenovela-style foodie-inspired space opera series, and the BEAN TO BAR MYSTERIES. She is also the author of STORY LIKE A JOURNALIST: A WORKBOOK FOR NOVELISTS, which boils down her writing knowledge into an actionable plan involving over 100 worksheets to build a comprehensive story plan for your novel. She blogs about creative writing technique and all things chocolate at www.amberroyer.com. She also teaches creative writing and is an author coach. If you are very nice to her, she might make you cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes, of course.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Amber-Royer/e/B00PFV4CGM
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