Pros: Strong characters, especially Megan; good mystery
Cons: Pacing of mystery and one element clumsily handled
The Bottom Line:
When artist is killed
Megan once again steps in
Characters still shine
Tracking Another Deceitful Killer
Farming is proving to be deadly for Megan Sawyer. She's moved home to Winsome, Pennsylvania, to run the family's farm, but she keeps getting involved in murder cases. Rooted in Deceit is the fourth in the series, and it is another engrossing read.
There's a new venture coming to Megan's farm - Clay is finally read the open the wood-fired pizza farm he has been working toward. But that's the only good news in Megan's life. Pennsylvania is facing a drought, and the new yoga retreat center in the area is taking away the customers that usually fill her café in town. Her life is further complicated by the arrival of her father, Eddie, and his second wife, Sylvia, from Italy. While they are staying in the area, they aren't planning to stay at the family farm but instead at the yoga center, which causes some strife.
The new retreat center has just opened, and as part of their grand opening celebration, they are hosting an art festival. The headlining artist is Thana Moore, a childhood friend of Megan's until the two had a falling out. While Thana is still gaining a reputation, the local girl made good is too good to pass up. However, when Thana is found murdered, it puts a pale over the festivities. Unfortunately, Sylvia is one of the top suspects since she was seen arguing with Thana not too long before Thana died. Megan begins poking into the case, but she doesn't know Sylvia that well. Is it possible that her father married a killer?
Over the course of the series, we have gotten to know Megan and her complicated family relationships. Meeting her father for the first time gives us a chance to see another part of that. The threads introduced in the earlier books are further developed here, as well. As a fan of the series, I enjoyed that, but if you are new to the series, this won't mean as much to you. As a result, I recommend you back up and start from the beginning. Because of these strong sub-plots, the mystery gets sidetracked at times. Fans of the series won't care; I know I didn't. But those who jump in here will definitely notice.
The characters are very strong, especially Megan and her grandmother. Other series supporting players are good, although they don't get the page time these two do. And the new characters introduced to be suspects are just as compelling. The fact that more than one has ties to Megan's past makes them more intriguing and allows us to see yet another side of Megan.
While the subplots might distract from the main mystery, there is definitely a solid mystery here. One element didn’t seem to be well incorporated, but overall, it is a minor issue. We get several strong suspects and some good twists and red herrings. The ending took me by surprise yet made perfect sense.
Between the café and the new pizza venture, there are plenty of mouthwatering pages as well. You won't read this book on an empty stomach for long.
I've really enjoyed watching Megan's life develop, and Rooted in Deceit is another chance to do just that. Fans of the series won't be disappointed at all.
Be sure to check out the rest of the Greenhouse Mysteries.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.