Sweet Death Come Softly by Barbara Whitehead (book cover)

Sweet Death Come Softly (Constable 1992)

Pierre Fontaine, a small spry middle aged Belgian confectioner, arrives in York on New Year's Day. At Benn's, one of the smaller chocolate manufacturers in the area who are ripe for a takeover by Brandt's, the continental firm looking for a base in the UK, Fontaine's presence is an open secret: he is there to prepare a new recipe known as No. 179. If the trails prove a success the production line for the new confection will cost Benn's twenty million pounds.

On 4 January Pierre Fontaine disappears from the locked and guarded factory. Fear of industrial espionage is mixed with an every greater anxiety: could it be murder or suicide? But a flummoxed CID hasn't a corpse. Kidnap then?

In an atmosphere of high tension and suspicion a full-scale investigation swings into action in tandem with the day-to-day operation of a modern factory and the sometimes dramatic domestic lives of the 300-strong workforce.