Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Farmed and dangerous (Local Foods Mystery)

Author:  Edith Maxwell
Genre:  Mystery

Four Stars

Cam is finding the New Year just as hectic as the old one.  Her sometimes rocky relationship with Chef Jake Ericsson is in a deep freeze, she's struggling to provide the promised amount of food to the subscribers in her first winter CSA, and her new greenhouse might just collapse from the weight of the snow.  Supplying fresh ingredients for a dinner ath te local assisted living facility seems like the least of her worries-until one of the elderly residents dies after eating some of her produce.

Cantankerous Bev Montgomery had a lot of enemies, from an unscrupulous real estate developer who coveted her land to an aggrieved care provider fed up with her verbal abuse.  But while the motives in this case may be plentiful, the trail of poisoned produce leads straight back to Cam.  not even her budding romance with police detective Pete Pappas will keep him from investigating her.

As the suspects gather, a blizzard buries the scene of the crime under a blanket of snow, leaving Cam stranded in the dark with a killer who gives new meaning to the phrase "dead of winter."


Cameron Flaherty owns her uncle's farm which she has decided to convert to certified organic.  It means more work, but in the end, she knows it will be worth it.  She has just landed the opportunity to provide her uncle's care facility with fresh greens for a meal, and hopes that the result will be a contract to provide for them permanently.

Well, permanently is certainly the right word, but it's not a contract.  One of the residents, Bev Montgomery, has permanently checked out of the home after eating a meal made with Cam's vegetables.  Since she becomes a suspect in the murder, her budding relationship with Detective Pete Pappas is being put on hold, and he's telling her they need to distance themselves until all this is cleared up.  Stung, Cam believes it's unfair, and even though Pete tells her to stay out of the investigation, she knows she won't, especially after her uncle is injured in a fall and she thinks it might have been an attack by Bev's killer.

Then things begin to really come undone:  Her relationship with Pete is at a standstill, she has trouble on the farm, and she finds herself in the killer's sights.  While no real attempts are made on her life, the more she finds out about Bev's murder, the more she puts herself in true danger.

I thought this was a splendid read.  The characters were well-developed, and we are allowed at all times to see into Cam's thoughts and feelings, which is indeed refreshing.  She is doing her best to make sure her uncle is well-taken care of, and also trying to make her farm a go.  At the same time, she is building relationships that will benefit her in the long run, and making new friends who are willing to help her out when it's needed, since she no longer has a hired hand on her farm.

The mystery was well-written and the reasons behind the murder were completely plausible and I enjoyed the way everything came together at the end.  Cam proved herself to be quite capable and not hen-witted (pun intended).  I didn't discover the killer until right before Cam did, and that in itself is a good sign.  This is the third book in the series but you don't need to read the first two to enjoy it.  Recommended.

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