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 fiancée. 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.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.