Author: Edith Maxwell
Genre(s): Mystery| Cozy
Publication date: May 31, 2016
Page length: 304 pages
Source: Bought (at BoucherCon!)
Author's website: https://edithmaxwell.com/
Spring may be just around the corner, but a cold-blooded killer has put the big chill on the residents of Westbury, Massachusetts. It looks like organic farmer-turned-sleuth Cam Flaherty will have to set aside her seedlings for the time being as she tills the soil for clues in the mysterious death of a local poultry maven.
With the weather getting warmer, Cam should be spending her days pruning blueberry bushes and taking care of the new batch of chicks that just hatched. But murder knows no season. So when her fellow fowl-raiser Wayne Laitinen is found dead at his breakfast table one morning, Cam must put down her trimming shears and put on her crime-solving hat.
The kind-hearted chicken farmer didn't have any enemies--or did he? A wealthy financier has been working hard to convince him to sell her his land, while a group of animal rights activists recently vandalized his property. Money troubles were threatening to sink his marriage. And a thirty-year-old scandal was driving a wedge between him and one of his oldest friends.
Murder, blackmail, cover-ups. There's a fox in the hen house. But where? With some help from her off-again, on-again flame, police detective Pete Pappas, Cam will have to crack this case before Wayne's killer flies the coop forever. Goodreads
My Review: This is the 4th and latest book in the Cam Flaherty Local Foods Mystery series. I haven't read the earlier books, but I never felt confused or like I was missing anything. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I'm definitely going to go back and read the rest of the series.
As with most cozies, my favorite part of the story was the setting. Cam Flaherty runs a small, organic farm that her great-uncle passed on to her after he was no longer able to take care of it. I wouldn't think that I'd find farming all that interesting, considering I can't even remember to water my bamboo plant (good thing it's hardy). Yet I was genuinely interested in her day-to-day affairs, and found the life and worries of an organic farmer oddly fascinating.
Also very important, Cam is a great protagonist. She doesn't put herself in harm's way, and she doesn't conceal useful evidence or information from the police, choosing to work with, not against them. She's also rather resourceful, a very refreshing change from the "too stupid to live" protagonists who are usually saved by mere luck and not their wits.
The supporting characters were mostly well-fleshed out, and the romance is realistic and well-done. It enhances and adds some sweet points to the story without overtaking it.
The subplots involving a missing girl and an overzealous animal rights group were handled quite well, and added necessary layers to the plot.That being said, the resolution of the main plot was a bit of a letdown. The big reveal of the murderer was anticlimactic and fairly straightforward, though the final confrontation had a good level of tension.
Despite my nitpicking with the ending, I absolutely devoured this book, finishing it in a day (I know author's hate hearing that since they spend so much time writing it, but I couldn't help it!). It's a fast read, but with a depth and lack of frivolity I don't often find in cozies. Definitely recommended.
Final bite: A wonderful addition to the world of culinary cozies. Great setting, great protagonist, great read. Go buy it!
Sidenote: I think the reason I love cozies so much is that I'm a big-city girl; the charm of small-town life and running a business that's part of the community really appeals to me, but only from the outside looking in. It's not a life I'd actually want to live, so these stories let me try on lots of different hats without having to commit; one week, I'm an organic farmer, the next I'm a tea shop/cafe/bakery/clothing shop/etc owner, but with none of the woes of owning a small business in a tiny town (this reasoning goes double for my love of historical fiction. Wonderful reading, but as a woman of color and fan of modern medicine, no thank you).
Make sure to stop by Thursday and Friday, as I share snippets of the foodie scenes and an excellent recipe for carrot muffins, provided by Alexandra (one of Cam's volunteers). Have you read this book before? If not, do you plan on reading it? Let me know in the comments!