Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: The Garden Squad; interesting plot
Cons: Took a bit to get back into series; ending a tad rushed
The Bottom Line:
Killer on the loose
So Lilly must clear her friend
Love these characters
Tilling Through the Lies Until the Truth is Left
Earlier this year, we got the debut of the Garden Squad Mysteries by Julia Henry. I loved the characters, so I was glad to get to visit them again so soon in Tilling the Truth.
It’s August in Goosebush, Massachusetts, but Lilly Jayne and the rest of the Garden Squad aren’t slowing down in the slightest. Between their covert gardening projects around this seaside town, they have also formed an official beautification committee to take on larger projects through official channels.
But there are some thorns among the blooms. The recent death of a friend has left Lilly, as executor of his estate, dealing with his greedy relatives. Meanwhile, Lilly’s best friend, Tamara, is finding her efforts to sell the dead man’s house meeting with sabotage, something that is only making her stress over the new relator in town worse. But things come to a head when Tamara is found standing over the dead body of Gladys Preston. Gladys didn’t have many friends in town, but she recently had a very public fight with Tamara. As the rumor mill begins to heat up, Lilly knows she needs to figure out what really happened to help her friend clear her name. Can she do it?
As excited as I was about revisiting these characters, I must admit it took me a bit to ease back into Goosebush. I just read too many books. However, it wasn’t long before I had all the members of the Garden Squad straight in my mind again.
I enjoyed my time with them just as much here. They are a diverse lot, but each one brings something different to the group and the series. While most of the book is told from Lilly’s third person point of view, we do get occasional bits from other members of the squad, which really helps fill in the story. Most of these main characters are on the older side, which I enjoy as something different from the usual 20-something main characters in series I read. As we went along, we got to know the suspects better and they became stronger characters.
The plot takes a little time setting things up before we find Tamara over Gladys’s body, but everything set up is important to the plot. The story appears to take on quite a bit, but all the events happening in Goosebush wind up coming into play before the book was over. While I suspected that would be the case, I was still left in awe of how it all came together, and I wasn’t sure who the killer was until it was revealed. The ending was a tad rushed, but all of our questions were answered.
One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was the theme of old versus new, or tradition versus change. As someone resistant to change (I can be flexible if you give me a week’s advanced notice), I appreciated how it was handled here. I suspect we will be exploring this much more as the series progresses.
I don’t garden. Between my condo and my brown thumb (seriously, I killed a cactus), it’s not something I can indulge in. However, if you have a garden you’ve been looking to change up, you’ll appreciate the gardening tips at the end of the book. And it’s enough to almost make me want to trying gardening again myself.
Summer is unfortunately winding down for the year, but Tilling the Truth, with its August setting, is a great way to hold on to the season. Plus, it’s a fun book. I enjoyed watching Lilly weed out another killer, and I’m sure you will, too.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.