Monday, November 20, 2017

Nightshade for Warning (An Enchanted Garden Mystery #2)

Author:  Bailey Cattrell
Genre:  Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Audio CD; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9780451476890; 9781494568245
Berkley Publishing
336 Pages
$7.99; $29.99; $7.99
May 2, 2017


Ellie's business and personal life have been flourishing in her hometown of Poppyville, California, since she opened Scents & Nonsense.  She uses her very special skills to craft perfumes that almost magically ease heartache, inspire change, and bring joy - and her customers love to relax in the beautiful garden behind her shop with her corgi, Dash, and her cat, Nabokov.  She even lives right next to the garden, in a compace "tiny house" - and she's excited to hear that a journalist is going to write a feature about her home and garden for a national magazine.

But then the journalist is found dead, and suspicion falls on the last person to see him - who just happens to be Ellie's brother's girlfriend.  So before everything goes to seed, Ellie must rely on her powers - observational and otherwise - to pick out the real killer from an ever-expanding bouquet of culprits...


Ellie owns Scents & Nonsense, a shop that sells oils, lotions, soaps, etc., in Poppyville, California.  She bought it with the money she received from her ex-husband when he bought out her half of the restaurant they owned together.  She's been happily creating personal scents for people, along with allowing them to relax in her Enchanted Garden behind the store - complete with miniature furniture and trees with tiny doors.

She's looking forward to a journalist writing a story about her tiny home (a converted garden shed) behind her shop, and her garden for a magazine.  She's also pleasantly surprised when she spots her brother Colby's van outside her home; and he has a second surprise for her: his girlfriend Lark.

But during a disastrous meeting with Blake Sontag, the writer, during dinner the evening before, Lark has a minor confrontation where she tells Blake he's a 'horrible person' and stomps off.  The next morning Blake doesn't show up for the interview, and it's only when Ellie hears sirens at the hotel that she finds out that Blake isn't coming - he's dead, and from what she can tell of the murder scene, he's been poisoned with Deadly Nightshade, also known as Belladonna.  It's not a nice way to die.

Now the police think that Lark may have committed the murder because she had given Blake an herbal tea to help him sleep, and Colby begs Ellie to help clear her name.  What can she say?  He's her brother, and he's in love with Lark. 

So Ellie starts looking around and finds out that more than one person had a reason to want Blake dead; and she's pretty sure the reason is a parcel of thirty acres that's ripe for development.  Could one of those people be his reclusive sister Joyous, who wanted to sell when Blake didn't?  Or the mysterious Vaughn, who's been seen in the realtor's office?  Or even her ex-husband Harris, who's been seen several times with Vaughn...

I have to say that I enjoyed this book more than the first in the series.  While it's still centered on aromatherapy, you're not so inundated with Ellie looking at every plant in her garden, telling us the meaning and then using that as a guide to what she should do next.  Yes, we still have the lovely garden, and yes, there's still plants and their meanings; but this book is more centered on the murder, which is what a mystery should do.

While Ritter, Ellie's boyfriend, is missing in this second in the series (he's off on his own job in Alaska and won't be back for several months), she's being almost-pursued by a genial photographer who's in town to help with the story of her tiny home, so we don't really have a progression of their still-new relationship to each other, although it seems to be committed so far.

I like the fact that while Ellie investigates she's never pushy with people.  She doesn't peek in windows or break into buildings, and that's a plus.  It shows she has intelligence, and that's always a good sign in a mystery.  She's not weak-willed nor mealy-mouthed around men, even Detective Lang (as she was in the first).  Ellie's growing up, and that's a good thing.

When we finally find out the killer, and the reason why, it's as old as time itself, but still quite a surprise, and one I don't think anyone would suspect.  I found it to be an easy read and quite enjoyable indeed.  As of right now, I don't see a third book in the offing, but since the author also has another series she's penning, that could still be yet to come.  I certainly hope so.  Recommended.


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