Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Flowers and Foul Play: A Magic Garden Mystery by Amanda Flower

The theme for January's book club is Mystery.  We can read any mystery we want, and when you think about it, there's an overwhelming amount of mysteries to choose from, and it can be hard to decide. Do you go classic, with Agatha Christie, or Sherlock Holmes? Do you go with historical, or contemporary? Cozy, noir, or police procedural? What if you just want to read a stand alone mystery? Do they even exist anymore, in a genre that is mostly built on series? 

Phew. A lot to think about. I started reading the second in Louise Penny's series, after reading Still Life last year and falling in deep like with everything about her writing and storyline. Then I was perusing through my stacks of books, and found a few cozy mysteries that I had received from a publisher last year and hadn't read yet. So I read Bad Neighbors by Maia Chance and it got me on the cozy mystery bandwagon. I've read them before, but mysteries have never been a huge part of my reading life. I've attempted over the years to dig in, and I always get distracted. 

I have discovered that I do love a good cozy mystery. And yes, it is weird to think of a novel that involves someone being murdered as cozy, but essentially they are pretty cozy. They usually involve a main character who isn't a detective; but generally a female who runs a cafe, a bakery, a quilting shop, a bookstore, an antique shop...you get the picture. They're usually set in a small town or village, and there isn't any graphic violence; there's just a dead body that appears to throw a wrench into the everyday happenings of the main character. I find myself gravitating towards cozy mysteries that involve a bit of magic, and that's how I picked up Flowers and Foul Play. I was checking in returned books at the library one day, and thought it looked intriguing AND it met my mystery requirement for January. 

So, a quick synopsis: Fiona Knox has come to Scotland to claim her inheritance from her godfather, who was killed in an overseas military battle. Duncreigan is a little stone cottage and one interesting garden, a few miles from the village of Bellewick, near the coast of Scotland. Running from a failed flower shop, and an ex-fiancee who ditched her for another woman, Fiona is heartbroken at her Uncle Ian's death, but welcomes the chance to get away from Tennessee for awhile. She's only arrived at Duncreigan and greeted Hamish, the elderly groundskeeper, when she stumbles upon a dead body in the garden. Not the welcome she was expecting!

What follows is a mystery revolving around Alastair Croft, the village lawyer who  was murdered by someone in Bellewick, but who? Chief Inspector Neil Craig has everyone on the suspect list, including Hamish. Can Fiona clear Hamish's name, and find out who killed Alastair and left him in her garden?

Oh--the garden is magical, by the way. As soon as Fiona arrives, what was a garden full of dead plants, trees, and ivy begins to transform into a beautiful, blooming wonder. Fiona is confused, and a letter explaining all sent by her Uncle Ian never arrived, so she's clueless about the magical garden. What's in that letter?

Aside from a few editing boo-boos, this was an entertaining read over the weekend. I will definitely read the second in the series, Death and Daisies. 

I can't wait to see what else unfolds for Fiona at Duncreigan. I've found a delightful series that will keep me exploring cozy mysteries all year long. 

Rating:  4/6 for a fun cozy that was a quick read. The setting, the potential romance between Fiona and  Chief Inspector Neil Craig, and the characters who populate the village of Bellewick all make this a series I'll continue to enjoy. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio.

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