Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Going Organic Can Kill You (A Blossom Valley Mystery #1)

Author:  Staci McLaughlin
Genre:   Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9780758275004
Kensington Publishing
294 Pages
$7.99; $1.99 Amazon
July 3, 2012

As Dana readjusts to life back home with her recently widowed mother, her latest career move isn't exactly a piece of cake.  In fact, it's all tofu fish sticks, stuffed squash blossoms, and enough wheat grass shots to scream bloody murder - especially when Dana discovers the body of Maxwell Mendelsohn, Hollywood producer and opening weekend guest, deader than a yoga corpse pose.  While Dana pens the Spa's blog and balances the attentions of the local police and reporter Jason Forrester, her escalating job duties now include finding clues, motives and suspects.  One thing's for certain, she better act fast before all this healthy living kills her.


Dana has moved back home after she lost her job and her father died, and her mother got her a job at a new Spa and Farm that has recently opened.  She's the marketing person and has been hired to promote the new business.

She's also been railroaded into chasing an errant pig and helping put towels in guests' rooms.  It's this last act that brings her to the fact of find a dead guest; a murdered dead guest, to be exact.  Now she's trying to figure out who killed him and how she's going to get another job if this one doesn't pan out because dead bodies have a way of making things go south...

This is the first book in the series and I thought it had a pretty good premise from the blurb, but I was wrong.  Dana is rather a snob, her ‘inner person’ making snide comments about people.  Supposedly this is an organic farm and spa, but nowhere does it say this is (to put it bluntly) a fat farm.  So why is the cook serving the guests inedible food?  Nothing sounded the least bit appetizing - even Dana couldn’t stand it; and none of the guests seemed to be eating it, yet the cook wasn’t replaced and she was still serving them garbage fit for their pig, Wilbur.  A spa, in case the author doesn’t know, quite often has wonderful, world class cuisine, because they want the guests to return.  This place, it seems, caters to having one-time only guests since they don’t feed them properly and can’t keep their farm animals penned.  This is not a place I’d want to visit, even if it was free.

The proprietor, Esther O'Connell, is completely scatter-brained and we’re given to understand that she’s a blithering idiot since her husband died.  So did her husband take care of everything while his “little woman” didn’t have to "worry her pretty head" about anything?  Because that’s the impression I got right away from the first chapters.  That the woman is incapable of running a business at all - and she should have sold it immediately.

The manager, Gordon Stewart, is a pompous ass who has no place at the farm.  He seems to think helping when it’s needed is beneath him, and therefore, he too should have been replaced.  I couldn’t stand his character, and was hoping he’d be the next body discovered.  I also wanted to know what a marketing person was doing serving guests and then given housekeeping duties.  I would have flat out refused.  People are hired for specific jobs, and if they can’t do them, they need to be let go.  This is the worst-run business I’ve ever read about, and I’m not even twenty pages into it, which pretty much tells you my opinion of the book.  How did it get five-star ratings with things like this?

Her sister is horrible.  Harassing Dana to tell her all about a dead man instead of being sympathetic.  What kind of person does that?  Dana’s mother should have sent her to her room.  Speaking of which, why are two adult daughters living at home with their mother?  I get that Dana was out of work for awhile, but Ashlee has a job, sooo....not to mention the two girls act like teenagers instead of adults, taunting each other.  Honestly?  This is supposed to pass for humor?  Or are we supposed to figure out that Ashlee is a witch?  Also, Dana is twenty-eight, and her mother is telling her what to eat.  So skinny is healthy?  She basically said if she had an ounce of fat on her, Dana couldn’t get a man.  How offensive is that?  On so many levels, yet.  (As far as cereal goes, unless you’re eating an entire box at breakfast, it’s not going to harm you physically as much as sucking down diet sodas, fast food and junk food all day will).

Also, I would like to believe that people aren’t so ghoulish as to want to stay in a room where a man was murdered the day before.  I’d also say that it’s probably not plausible.  Even the most seasoned ghost hunter would wait until the corpse wasn’t around anywhere close.  We're supposed to believe that people are lining up to sleep in a room where the man was murdered.  Even the famous Hollywood Hotel doesn't get this kind of action.  At any rate, I couldn’t stand any of the characters, so this series is a no-go for me.

I wish I had something good to say about this book, but there just isn't anything at all.  The manager is pompous, the cook a glorified hippie who wants to serve people lawns, the maid lazy, the owner flaky, Dana's mother pushy, her sister nasty, the boyfriend even has a nasty streak, and Dana is snide and thinks she's better than anyone else.  All the secondary characters are unlikable, too.  There are a lot better books out there, and I'm not wasting any more time reading this series. 

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