Forbidden Fruit, a Corinna Chapman Mystery from Kerry Greenwood, by way of Poisoned Pen Press, brings new meaning to Christmas in July. The book happens to be my introduction to Corinna Chapman, a baker in Melbourne Australia, who lives and works in a building that could be considered an alternate universe in and of itself. Corinna’s partner in life, Daniel, an investigator, takes a job searching for an unmarried, pregnant, teenage girl who has run off with the gardener’s son, assumed to be the father of her child. This all takes place around Christmas time in Melbourne, so the plot seems tailor-made for a rather clichéd denouement. Don’t hold your breath. Greenwood throws in Madrigal singing fanatic vegans, rose addicted donkeys, vengeance seeking Rom, and Hare Wombat chanting Freegans (I love Freegans.) Nothing is as it seems and Greenwood manages to make you feel just as hot and sweaty as Corinna and company in Melbourne suffering in the Big Dry as Corinna and Daniel search the city for the young couple.
As stated, this is my first exposure to Greenwood’s Corinna Chapman. I’m going to have to backtrack now and start at the beginning of the story arc in order to satisfy myself. Greenwood does a great job with developing characters and she has a nice eye for the eccentric without taking it over the top. Many times, Christmas stories get a bit schmaltzy, regardless of genre, but Greenwood managed to put enough of a twist into her story to make Forbidden Fruit a Christmas story best told by the pool with cold ice tea.