Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A Muddied Murder (A Greenhouse Mystery Book 1)

Author:  Wendy Tyson
Genre:  Mystery

Paperback; Ebook
ISBN#:  9781635110050
Henery Press
$14.36; $2.99 Amazon
March 29, 2016

Five Stars

When Megan Sawyer gives up her big-city law career to care for her grandmother and run the family's organic farm and cafe, she expects to find peace and tranquility in her scenic hometown of Winsome, Pennsylvania.  Instead, her goat goes missing, rain muddies her fields, the town denies her business permits, and her family's Colonial-era farm sucks up the remains of her savings.

Just when she thinks she's reached the bottom of the rain barrel, Megan and the town's hunky veterinarian discover the local zoning commissioner's battered body in her barn.  Now Megan is thrust into the middle of a murder investigation - and she's the chief suspect.  Can Megan dig through small-town secrets, local politics, and old grievances in time to find a killer before that killer strikes again?

********

Megan Sawyer has come home.  After a telephone call from her father, who told her he was moving to Italy, she made the decision to move home and care for her family's farm, along with her grandmother, Bibi.  She's trying to turn the farm into a completely organic one, and also has plans to open a cafe/market in town, but is stymied at every turn by Simon Duvall, the zoning commissioner, and town historian.  Tired of his endless inspection requirements, Megan and Simon have an argument at her cafe, witnessed by several people.

Later that evening, when the town's veterinarian, Dr. Daniel "Denver" Finn stops in to check on one of Megan's goats, her dog Sadie begins nosing around her barn.  When Megan and Denver go to find her, they find something else...the body of Simon Duvall.  It was apparent he was hit with a shovel to the head - Megan's shovel.  So when police chief Bobby King arrives the next day to question Megan, he already knows about Simon's stonewalling and their argument, making Megan a suspect.  Although she refuses to be cowed, she does become even more suspicious when Simon's inspector, Roger Becker, arrives at her home with the 'passed inspection' notices.  It seems he's had them for awhile, but Simon wouldn't give them to her, instead trying to financially break her in the waiting process.  But why?

Megan soon begins discovering small tidbits during the investigation - things like her grandmother was going to sell the farm to Simon, even though Bibi denies it; and more than one person had reason to dislike Simon, who ruled with an iron thumb.  But even more disturbing is Simon's mother Lenora, who wants the farm to be listed in the historical register, which means that Megan wouldn't be able to make any improvements without the assent of the Historical Society, and that is something Megan isn't willing to allow to happen.

When the police find a bloody glove that suddenly changes suspects, it's one that isn't a welcome change to Megan.  Suddenly, things begin to happen - Megan's store is broken into, she sees someone out by her barn at night, etc.  Now she knows that someone is after something on her farm, but what?  
So with the whys and the whats, Megan needs answers, but she's not getting any from Chief King or anyone else.  She is able to garner a bit of information now and then from her employee Clover, who is Chief King's girlfriend.  But all that does is make more questions.  And if she doesn't find out the answers soon, then her life, or worse, the life of Bibi, could be in danger.

Ms. Tyson gives us an intriguing novel in this first of the Greenhouse series.  She has fleshed out all the main characters - Megan, Denver, Bibi - to make us understand them, and why they are the people they are.  There is just enough background on Megan and Denver to make you realize that you have two wounded people who are slowly finding their way toward each other; and enough of Bibi in that you begin to realize what she does and does not say is only to protect Megan in some way (although I have high hopes we will learn more in future books).  The secondary characters, of which there are many, are given a background too, and I also look forward to learning more about Clay, Clover, Brian, and Bobby.

I enjoyed the fact that this isn't the typical 'amateur sleuth moves to town and gets involved with the police chief.'  Denver, as I mentioned, is the town's Scottish veterinarian, and has his own demons to fight, although not the same ones as Megan.  Megan, for her part, has no interest in becoming an amateur sleuth, as it were, and doesn't really even go searching for clues to the killer.  She's more interested in the opening of her cafe and why someone is roaming around her farm at night.  Very refreshing indeed.  (Although, as we know, it isn't going to keep her from getting involved or being in danger).

When we finally learn the truth and the killer is revealed, it comes as a complete surprise.  I was pleased with the way Ms. Tyson put the final pieces together, weaving the clues into a nice tapestry that made it all the more believable.  With this, the first in the series, she has introduced us to a new set of friends that I hope I will spend time with for years to come.  Highly recommended. 



More on Wendy Tyson's books:  http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/t/wendy-tyson/

                                                                 

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