Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Book Review: A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die by Edith Maxwell (Local Foods Mysteries #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great characters, strong mystery
Cons: Pacing a little slow in the beginning
The Bottom Line:
Cam takes on murder
As we start farming series
Builds to great climax

Murder Grows on the Farm

I had just discovered Edith Maxwell and her Local Foods Mysteries last year when the second in the series was set to come out.  I accepted an ARC of the book and enjoyed it, fully going back to read the first.  While it took longer than I had planned to buy and read that first book, I did finally get a chance to read A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die, and it was nice to get caught up on Cam’s first case.

Cam Flaherty has made a huge change in her life.  After being laid off from her computer programming job, she’s agreed to take over the farm owned by her great-uncle.  She’s converting it to an organic farm and she’s even set up a farm share where people will buy in to her farm before the season begins for a share of the crops as they come in.  Thanks to people in her area committed to buying local foods, it’s looking like she might be able to pull the career change off.

And then Cam finds her one hired hand in the door to the hoop house with a pitchfork in his neck.  She’d actually just had to fire Mike Montgomery for wanting to introduce chemicals on her farm.  With the police looking at her and some of her new friends for the murder, Cam must figure out who killed Mike and why.

The book started out a little slowly with details about the farm and how it was operating sharing focus with the plot.  However, as the book progressed, the mystery took more and more prominence.  There were several viable suspects before everything came together in an exciting climax.

Likewise, the characters are great.  I identified with Cam just a little too much.  She’s an introvert, and I have introverted tendencies (although not nearly as bad as hers).  However, the rest of the series cast are wonderful characters who are beginning to draw her out of her shell.  That’s a thread I know continued in book two, and I look forward to seeing it continue in future books in the series.  Cam is also blunt, and it was refreshing to see a main character who goes about her questioning in the clumsy way I would if I were in her shoes.

In addition to Cam, there really are a great bunch of supporting characters I enjoyed getting to know better.  The suspects were just as strong as everyone else in the book, too.

Another issue I had with the book involved illegal immigration.  It comes into the plot as we learn more about Mike, the victim.  However, that part of the story is handled in a very stereotypical way.  I would have appreciated more nuance between anti-illegal immigration and anti-immigration.  And yes, there is a world of difference.

This is a cozy mystery that involves food, and that means there are two recipes in the back.  Both of them involve lots of fresh produce, and they actually do sound very tempting.  (I really should learn to eat more healthy food like this.)

While farming isn’t something I would normally set out to read about, I’m glad that I’ve started reading this series.  A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die is a solid debut, and I know the second book lives up to that promise.  I’m looking forward to reading Cam’s latest adventure when it comes out in just a few months.

Be sure to read the rest of the Local Foods Mysteries in order.


  1. I like the sound of this series. The whole starting over thing always appeals to me in fiction especially if it involves farming or old houses. The stereotypical immigration issues make me a bit nervous (because yes there's a big difference between anti-immigration and anti-illegal immigration) but this is definitely a series I'll look for.

    1. For me it was more of a very annoyed eye-roll than anything to be nervous about. Could the book have been stronger? Yes. But I still enjoyed what was here.

  2. Hopping over from the Foodies Read challenge...(still)

    I think I'd like this series. I like our local food scene here.

    Joy's Book Blog

    1. It's a good series. I'm looking forward to the third here in a couple of months.