Release Date: 06 Apr 2010
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Mystery
Summary: Becca Robins leads a simple life, making jams and preserves on her very own farm. But when there's a murder in her quaint little town, she puts herself in the line of fire to defend her friend's innocence-and goes from making jam to being in one.
Review: Becca Robins, preserve maker extraordinaire, arrives at Bailey's Farmers' Market to sell her goods one morning only to discover that customers might be a little put off by the atmosphere. A dead body and a bunch of police will do that though. Becca needs this murder solved quickly so that her sister doesn't lose her job, a close friend doesn't end up going to jail and she doesn't end up as the next victim.
It was very difficult for me to rate this book. What I enjoyed, I loved, and what I didn't care for, drove me absolutely crazy (expect some ranting but keep in mind these parts in the book were usually very short). I loved the farmers' market setting, it was a lot of fun and I loved everything it entailed (gardening, cooking etc). Some of my favorite parts of the book were simply reading about Becca getting her inventory ready or other ordinary occurrences. I felt that this was a great place to have a murder happen in.
Becca was a wonderful cozy mystery personality with an interesting voice. She was a lot funnier than I had been expecting. For the most part, I loved Becca... except when she was 'crime solving'. Whenever Becca attempted sleuthing I couldn't stand her. The writing in these parts became very repetitive too, to the point where it was distracting from the story. Becca would discover something and then we'd learn it all over again as she made note cards then again as she talked to herself then again when she shared her suspicions with other characters. At one point I honestly thought I might have accidentally been rereading pages. I like that Becca was a normal person and reacted like a normal person would to a murder. However, her reactions to 'tense' situations were too exaggerated and almost childlike. Becca at one point locks herself in her sister's office as she's sleuthing. Someone knocks on the door, who Becca assumes is just a customer, and Becca completely loses it in anxiety. You would have thought that she was instead locked in the office with the killer from the way she was acting. Becca is very independent, easy going, loves animals etc and if I ever met her, I'd probably want her as a best friend. My first order of business though would be to teach her that the 'sleuthing' solution to every unknown fact isn't blurting out the question to the suspect or just asking Officer Brion. There's a big difference between incompetence and whatever Becca was doing. Incompetent sleuthing can be amusing or used as a tool for character growth. Whatever Becca was doing was neither. Anyway, my point is that Becca was a perfect character until moments where the plot moved forward.
Because this book was primarily a cozy mystery, there wasn't much of what I loved most about that book. My absolutely favorite aspect of this book was the beginnings of an older woman and younger man relationship (Becca/Ian). It was glorious and perfectly written. Even if the last 75 pages of the book hadn't completely made up for my previous ranting, I would read the next book in the series just to see more of their budding relationship. The last 75 pages really did fix all of my complaints though. Literally not a single complaint I just ranted about appeared in those pages. I'm so glad that the murderer was a complete surprise too but also not so far out there that it would have been impossible to guess.
Despite my complaints that make this book sound worse than it really was, I did enjoy this book. I think if you know about its flaws before going into it, that you'll be able to enjoy the book more. I'm looking forward to the next book as well as trying out some yummy looking recipes from this one.
Quotes & Thoughts as I Read:
- But it couldn't have been a body-this was a farmer's market. Dead bodies didn't just show up at farmer's markets, did they? Here are the strawberry products, be sure to try the shortcake. On the left are the decomposing bodies. Up ahead is the booth for sweetcorn, it's to die for.
- Allison had confirmed that Ian was in his mid-twenties, but he seemed older and wiser. His confident knowledge of what he was "meant to do" was something that I didn't think I'd ever passionately felt. I loved what I did, but I wasn't sure it was a calling so much as an insightful gift from my aunt and uncle. I don't know if Shelton assumes all of the readers of her book are old ladies but she tends to repeat the same idea a ton of times. It's actually a little distracting. I wouldn't mind a repeat, say, in another chapter but I've got the same thought repeated every few pages.
- Ian followed suit and fingertip-tasted the liquid. "Well, that's good news, so far. Blood probably would have been bad news. Plus, I'd have to worry about your appetites if I'd just seen you reach willingly for a taste of blood." Omygosh, can you imagine!? A vampire/farming cozy mystery. That would be so ridiculous that I'd have to read it. And it sorta reminds me of the middle-grade series Vampirates which teaches all of us that there is, in fact, a such thing as too much of a good thing.
- Woof. "I have no idea, girl," I said. And I didn't. I was confused to the point that I was shaking my head to myself. I don't think I've ever read a cozy mystery that didn't have the main character conversing with their beloved pet. I'm totally like that in real life but it's become overdone in cozy mystery land. Shelton has really freshened it up though or maybe it's just that I'm infatuated with the dog's name, Hobbit.
- “I've put together a list of potential buddy groups. It's based on your schedules and the locations of your stalls, and if you've told me you despise someone, I promise I haven't paired you with them.” I'm liking the sister a lot more than I did when she was first introduced. She's no longer a robot.
- Mamma was not your typical mother/baker-type person. Frankly, she reminded me more of a stripper. She was tall, blond, and built--just like her pies, I thought to myself. Haha, I probably enjoyed it line a lot more than I should have.
- I decided that if I actually went to Abner's house and followed his cryptic instructions, he'd be lucky if I didn't bring my own axe to bloody. Becca is probably the worst sleuth ever and in this instance it doesn't bother me one bit.
- "I need to ask more questions. I've got to be less sneaky about what I'm doing--I won't announce that I'm trying to find the murderer, but I need to know if Barry, Ian, and Carl have alibis, so I'm going to have to ask them outright." I hope Becca's joking about the 'less sneaky' part because she's been about as sneaky as a volcano.
- Linda gathered the box of napkins from behind her back tent wall as Drew and I made small talk. There was no way he was as wonderful as he seemed to be. It wasn't possible. I'd have to ask deep, probing questions at dinner. I love Becca's reactions to men. Always leaves me giggling.
Rating: 3½ Bites