Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Book Review: Essentials of Murder by Kim Davis (Aromatherapy Apothecary Mysteries #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great characters, solid mystery
Cons: Climax could have been stronger
The Bottom Line:
Conflict with neighbor
Carissa must clear her name
Characters are great

Essential Series Debut

Normally, I might have passed right by a series centered on essential oils, but having enjoyed Kim Davis’s other cozy mysteries, I knew I had to read Essentials of Murder, the first in her new Aromatherapy Apothecary series.  I’m glad I got to read it.

Carissa Carmichael has returned home to the touristy town of Oak Creek Valley in disgrace thanks to a scandal in San Francisco.  But, determined to make a life for herself in her home town, she is getting ready to open Aromatherapy Apothecary, a shop devoted to essential oils.  She is planning to work with the candle shop next door to cross promote.  However, the candle shop owner’s son, Russ, is certain that Carissa’s shop will drive his mom out of business.

The day after one particularly nasty encounter with Russ, Carissa goes to her shop to find the man’s body in her distilling room.  Gossip and the detective assigned to the case both have Carissa convicted of the crime.  But Carissa is innocent.  Can she prove it?

Like many series debuts, this book has the task of introducing us to all the characters while also offering us a compelling mystery that needs to be solved.  This book walks that line wonderfully.  We meet the characters who I’m sure will become series regulars at a nice pace.  We are never overwhelmed, and they stand out from each other.  More importantly, I really like them, and I want to spend more time with them.  That’s a huge draw for getting me to come back to a new series.

Of course, the suspects weren’t all loveable, but in that case, I loved to wonder about them and their motives.  They do a great job of keeping us guessing, which is key.

And the mystery is mostly strong.  I couldn’t figure out for sure what was going on until the climax, although I had a couple of suspicions.  I did feel the climax was a little rushed so weaker than it could have been, but it did answer our questions.

I always get a kick when a book is set in an area I’m familiar with.  While Oak Creek Valley is fictional, it is inspired by a small town about an hour and a half from me, so I recognized several of the other, real, towns that were referenced in the book.

Essentials of Murder is a fun debut.  I already can’t wait to go back and visit my new friends again.  Don’t miss it.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.


  1. Thanks so much for your wonderful review, Mark! And I'm glad you recognized the setting :) I appreciate you fitting me into your busy schedule and had a chance to read my new book!

  2. Thanks for the review. Sounds like a great new book.

  3. I'm excited about this new series from Kim Davis because all of her books are so good! Thanks for the wonderful review!

  4. Cozy authors are so creative when coming up with settings for their books. I love the aromatherapy apothecary idea.


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