Amanda Hazard, a CPA who is very pregnant, just wants to decorate her office for Halloween, try and win the best decorating contest. Nettie Jarvis owns a pumpkin patch, and has promised Amanda all the pumpkins she wants. So, when Amanda arrives at Nettie's she finds more than what she came for. She finds Nettie's body nestled in between the pumpkins.
Amanda's husband, Chief of Police Nick Thorn, is sure Nettie died from natural causes, but not Amanda. He tells her to leave it alone, worried because of her pregnancy. But Amanda had received an ominous telephone call from Nettie the day she died, and she knows that Nettie was murdered. She also knows that she needs to find the killer before the killer finds her.
Amanda is an unusual character in the fact that she's a CPA, which is what drew me to this mystery. Usually the amateur sleuths own a retail store of some sort (books, bakery, restaurant, etc.), and I thought this would be different. Which it was, in a few ways.
First off, she finds Nettie's body and decides she was murdered because Nettie was wearing house slippers instead of tennis (and I'm not giving anything away, because you find that out almost immediately). Of course, her husband thinks she's just over-reacting because of her physical state, but tells her he will investigate anyway. And of course, Amanda, who is looking for a little black book that Nettie had told her she wanted to give her for safekeeping, decides to go ahead and investigate on her own.
Amanda is made executor of Nettie's estate, which I found different because I've never heard of a CPA being made executor. Relatives, attorneys, yes, but CPAs, no. Not to say it doesn't happen. I've just never known it to be, although somewhere it's possible. At any rate, she finds the book but doesn't turn it over to Nick, because she wants to see if there's anything in it that help with her investigation. Which again, of course, there is. It turns out the book is a font of information on the residents of town. And that Nettie, a former hairdresser, knows almost everything about. In the wrong hands, the book could be disastrous. Yet Amanda knows that somewhere within lies clues to Nettie's murder.
Yet there are plenty of red herrings in this book - a lot of information pointing to a lot of different people as the murderer, and you have to sift through everything to find the answer. Which she does eventually. The reason being is that Amanda's hair was unfortunately dyed a bright orange, and Velma (who is the town's hairdresser) decides that with her hair and expanded belly, she would be perfect for the local Pumpkin Queen. Which means she has to wear a costume which is a bright orange pumpkin...and lights up. So Amanda spends quite a bit of time investigating in her costume.
However, there were a couple of things that bothered me. Amanda, her husband, and their best friend (Sam Harjo) all call each other by their last names (Hazard, Thorn, Harjo). I found that odd. I've never known anyone of my acquaintance to walk around using the last name of their spouse (and since this takes place in Oklahoma, I'm pretty sure it's not a Southern thing, since my Daddy was from Texas, and no one in his family has ever done it). So the entire book, he refers to her as "Hazard" or "Haz" while she calls him "Thorn." Very odd.
But the big thing that bothered me was the 'robot talk.' Anyone who knows me knows I don't like this in a book. Nobody talks robot talk. By that I mean a character will say things like this: "I am going to the store. I am going to buy milk and then I will go to the gas station. After that I will stop at the post office and get the mail." What people will say is the following: "I'm going to the store to get milk and then stopping for gas. On the way home I'll pick up the mail at the post office." This went on through the entire book. It went back and forth between using conjunctions like normal people and then you'd have entire paragraphs of robot talk. The point is, people write this way, but they don't talk this way. I really dislike it when I read a book and all the talk is robot talk.
However, that notwithstanding, I still gave it four stars because I like the characters, I liked the plot, and I liked the mystery. And that's really what counts in the long run.