The Final Tap
by Amanda Flower
March on Barton Farm can only mean one thing: maple sugar season. To combat the winter slump, resilient director Kelsey Cambridge organizes a Maple Sugar Festival, complete with school visits, pancake breakfasts, and tree tapping classes. Kelsey hires curmudgeonly maple sugar expert Dr. Conrad Beeson to teach the classes, despite misgivings over his unpleasant demeanor. It’s a decision she ends up regretting when, before the first tree can be tapped for sap, Dr. Beeson turns up dead.
The maple sugar expert’s death threatens to shut down not only the Maple Sugar Festival, but also Barton Farm itself. Kelsey must solve Dr. Beeson’s murder to escape the increasingly sticky situation.
In the follow up to The Final Reveille, we visit the Barton Farm in the winter just in time for maple sugar season. Kelsey Cambridge may have a long term deal running the farm but she still needs to make it as profitable and self sustaining as she can. She plan the 1st Maple Sugar Festival at the farm featuring a maple sugar expert to teach the adults and a maple syrup demonstration for both the adults and kids too, complete with pancakes. A few Civil War reenactors will be traveling the grounds talking about maple sugar collection in history. Dr. Conrad Beeson, the hired expert, never gets a chance to share is knowledge. He is found dead on the grounds and while Kelsey is hoping it was from natural causes we quickly learn the man was murdered. Then we learn how disliked the man was by almost everyone he met. Meaning plenty of suspects and a very sticky situation for Kelsey.
Amanda Flower doesn’t just write a very intriguing mystery, she teaches us all about maple sugar/syrup collection and processing. So much work goes into the natural treat we pour on our pancakes and waffles. She does this by introducing interesting characters that we follow through the story. The Barton Farm has its own sugarhouse and their is another one close by in a local park. Kelsey even ventures into the all male Sap and Spile group in her efforts to eliminate and find suspects. She doesn’t receive a warm welcome from all the members. Maple sugar is a major thing in this area of Ohio.
The mystery was well written and flowed syrup smooth. I was caught by surprise at the end. The guilty party was way off my radar.
In addition to the drama at work Kelsey has drama at home. She is sharing custody of her son, Hayden, with her ex and he is threatening to take her to court to change their agreement. Too many dangerous things happening at the farm aren’t really his main concern. He seems to be bent out of shape that Kelsey may be getting into a romantic relationship of her own. He seems to forget he left her for Krissie and they are engaged to me married. This story line is ongoing and I know things are really going to get good in book #3.
Characters that continue to evolve, a fabulous setting, and a top notch mystery. I recommend this one highly.
About This Author
Amanda Flower, a two-time Agatha Award-nominated mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. She also writes mysteries as national bestselling author Isabella Alan. In addition to being an author, Amanda is an academic librarian for a small college near Cleveland.
Prose and Cons: A Magical Bookshop Mystery – Coming in December.
Amish Quilt Shop Mystery Series (writing as Isabella Alan)
Be sure to check out the rest of the tour!
May 9 – Bubble Bath Books – REVIEW
May 10 – The Girl with Book Lungs – REVIEW
May 11 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW
May 12 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW
May 13 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW
May 13 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW
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May 15 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW, GUEST POST
May 16 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW
May 17 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW, GUEST POST
May 18 – Classy Cheapskate – REVIEW
May 19 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW
May 20 – Book Babble – REVIEW
May 21 – Booklady’s Booknotes – REVIEW, GUEST POST
May 22- LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW
May 22- Island Confidential – INTERVIEW
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”