Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Book Review: Dying for Strawberries by Sharon Farrow (Berry Basket Mysteries #1)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Marlee; well-done mystery
Cons: Supporting characters left to develop fully in future books
The Bottom Line:
Marlee finds trouble
Complicated by murder
In fun new series

Berry Enjoyable Debut

As far as true confessions go, the fact that I love berries is hardly a shocking one.  I think most people do.  But it’s why the Berry Basket Mysteries appealed to me – a shop that sells nothing but berry related stuff?  Sign me up.  And the first one revolves around Strawberries, so what could be better?  When it comes to Dying for Strawberries, it turns out that the book lived up to my hopes.

Marlee Jacob has been back in Oriole Point on the shores of Lake Michigan for a couple of years now, and her store, The Berry Basket, is beginning to really take off.  The shop, which sells everything from berry smoothies to berry desserts to items decorated with berries, has become hugely popular with locals and tourists alike, and Marlee has big plans for the future of her business.

However, a sudden string of bad news might be the end of her new life.  First, her friend Natasha disappears after a fight with her abusive husband.  Then the local business owner’s association meeting is rocked by several major announcements.  Marlee’s past involvement in a murder is hitting the news again just before someone tries to kill her.  When Marlee stumbles upon a dead body, it’s just one more thing to add to the mess her life is becoming.  The police think they’ve found the killer, but Marlee knows they are wrong.  Since she thinks the murder and the attempt on her life are related, she investigates before the killer gets a chance to target her again.  But can she figure things out?

I really enjoyed this book because it plays with some of the tropes of cozies, especially first in series books.  Yes, Marlee has returned to her home town, but it’s been long enough that her business is established, and she already has a fiancĂ©e.  Likewise, as you might have figured out from the above, the plot has more going on than the typical cozy mystery does.  As a result, Marlee doesn’t find the murder victim until about a third of the way into the book, but there is still plenty happening to keep us entertained.  Once motives and suspects are set up, we get to watch as Marlee works her way through them until she identifies the killer.  The climax is logical and suspenseful, and I really enjoyed it.

Because Oriole Point is Marlee’s home town, she has a large collection of friends and family in town.  As a result, we meet a plethora of supporting players here.  I did feel like they were a tad overwhelming and we didn’t get to know them super well, but that’s what further books in the series are for, right?  It’s my only complaint with the book, and it’s a minor one.

Marlee herself is a strong main character, and we definitely get to know her over the course of the book.  I’m very curious where some of the relationships set up here will go in future books, and can’t wait to see Marlee grow as a result of developments in those relationship.  The suspects were also strong characters, and it made figuring out the killer harder as a result.

While the store sells things related to all berries, the theme of this book is strawberries, as emphasized by the Strawberry Moon Bash near the beginning of the book.  As a result, we have four strawberry themed recipes at the end of the book, including a smoothie, a salad, muffins, and a strawberry nut bread.  Since strawberries are my favorite berry, all I can say is yum!

If you are looking for a delicious new series, look no further than Dying for Strawberries.  A strong main character and a fast moving mystery will leave you hungry for more.

You'll find more berry goodness with the rest of the Berry Basket Mysteries in order.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.


  1. Sounds like a good one! I got a copy of this one through netgalley, but haven't read it yet. Your review definitely makes me curious and I like how it plays with cozy mystery tropes and also is different in some aspects. And the focus on a berry store just sounds like it will be a lot of fun and will make readers crave some berries. Great review!

    1. I think you'll love it when you get to read it. Thanks for your kind words.

  2. Reading now! Who doesn't love a good cozy mystery--and with berries? Can't wait to see what other berries are in the titles �� ����

    1. I bet we know what the next in the series is going to be based on the last few pages of this book.

  3. Thanks, Mark. I always like finding a series when it starts. I'm adding this one to my Kindle, now.

  4. Not an author I'm familiar with but it seems like a good cozy!


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