Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great characters and mystery in a fun location
The Bottom Line:
Combines again with murder
Great page turning fun
Tap into a Fun Read
It’s always a pleasure returning for a second book in a series and finding it delightful to slip back into a world you remembered loving. That, for me, is the case with The Final Tap, the second in the Living History Museum Mysteries by Amanda Flower.
The setting is the Barton Farm, a living history museum in Ohio that captures life during 1863, the height of the Civil War. While the Civil War was in progress, the North didn’t have access to the sugar that came from the South, so maple sugar became the standard sweetener. Kelsey Cambridge, who runs Barton Farm, has decided this is a perfect reason to host a Maple Sugar Festival in March as a way to increase attendance in a traditionally slow period of the year.
As part of the weekend, Kelsey has hired Dr. Conrad Beeson to come on Friday and teach a class on harvesting and processing maple sugar. He’s a local expert in the field, but he’s also a demanding jerk. Spring hasn’t quite sprung yet, and Beeson is there the day before he is to teach his class demanding that something be done so the sap will be running for his class the next day even though Kelsey obviously can’t control the weather. When he goes to inspect another grove of trees, Kelsey follows a few minutes later to find him lying in the snow with a hand drill in his chest.
Even with as little as Kelsey has interacted with Beeson, it’s no surprise to her to learn that the man has a lot of enemies. Yet the police are focusing on Gavin, one of Kelsey’s employees, as their prime suspect. Kelsey knows that Gavin couldn’t have done it, so she sets out to unmask the real killer. But will she solve the crime?
I have fond memories of a few trips to living history museums over the course of my lifetime, so the setting appeals to me. Author Amanda Flower makes the place come alive, and if I were ever in that corner of Ohio, I’d love to visit in real life. Well, if the place were real, of course.
Likewise, the book is populated with a fun assortment of characters. I love Kelsey, a resourceful and strong main character. She has a five-year-old son who I adore as well. I was surprised that a few of the returning characters seemed to play smaller parts here than I was expecting, but that’s a minor issue in my mind. The ones that have more page time got some wonderful development, and I can’t wait to see that built on in the next book. The cast of suspects are all strong and easy to keep apart.
And the mystery itself is top notch. There are several viable suspects and varying motives, so it really kept me guessing until the end. And, while I enjoyed the setting and characters, they never took over from the plot. The balance of all three is perfectly done.
Oh, and if like me, you love maple syrup (and who doesn’t?), better have some on hand. This book will leave you craving it.
Fun setting, great characters, and a strong mystery combine to make The Final Tap a winner. Settle back and enjoy this delightful book.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.