Pros: Engrossing mystery with great characters
Cons: A little slow to start, but worth it
The Bottom Line:
The mystery grows
Into book you can’t put down
Harvest it today
Farming, and Murder, Don’t Slow Down in Winter
I’m a city boy, and I freely admit it. As a result, I think of winter as a down time for farming when nothing happens and farmers just eat the fruits and vegetables of their labors. That’s not the case for Cameron Flaherty in Farmed and Dangerous. Not only is she trying to grow some crops, but she finds herself involved in her third murder in less than a year.
Cam is hoping to get a contract to supply vegetables to Moran Manor, the local assisted living facility where her great-uncle now lives. Even though it is the off season, she is providing vegetables and some recipes as a trial this January. If everything goes well, she will be able to provide more on a regular basis once the real growing season begins.
However, the night her produce is served, the unthinkable happens – one of the residents dies. Worse yet, it is Bev Montgomery, who Cam has had several run ins with since taking over her great-uncle’s farn a year ago. When the whispers begin that Cam poisoned Bev, it interrupts her budding romance with detective Pete Pappas. In an attempt to clear her name and salvage her relationship, Cam begins to dig into the mystery. Can she clear her reputation?
The first 50 pages or so start a little slowly. Part of the time is used to set up suspects and ease us back into the characters we already know and love, but part of it is spent talking about what Cam is currently growing in her Hoop House and starting up in the barn and how she’s growing stuff in the middle of winter. While I certainly expected some of that, it could have been mixed into the mystery better. It felt like the time after you’ve planted seeds but before you actually see anything sprouting.
However, once the murder happens, things really do pick up and I was instantly hooked on the story. From there forward, the time that Cam was spending on the work of the farm she also spent thinking about the clues and events and trying to piece together a solution. And, of course, she spends lots of time out searching for clues and talking to suspects. I got so caught up in the story that I had a hard time putting the book down and read just under half of it on a very enjoyable Sunday afternoon.
The characters in this series are great, and they continue to grow here. I was thrilled with the developments in Cam’s love life. She still struggles with her tendency toward being an introvert, but I like that character trait because it’s something different in the series I read. The new characters introduced here are just as real as the ones we’ve gotten to know over several books.
Author Edith Maxwell is part of the Wicked Cozy group blog. Fans of the blog will enjoy a couple of cameos by characters from her blog mate’s series.
While our weather has been a little cooler than normal in Southern California for early June, this book is set in January in Massachusetts – the middle of winter. I found myself shivering a few times as I read the descriptions of winter weather. Okay, so it doesn’t take much to make me cold (I am a Southern California wimp), but I still think the descriptions were great without slowing the story down.
And yes, there are recipes – three to be exact. If you don’t normally tend to read the recipes in the back of culinary mysteries, you’ll want to make an exception here since there is a good laugh hidden in one of them.