On Flashback Fridays I will share with you
the books I was not able to review
when they were first released that have been screaming at me
from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.
I am determined to get caught up on this series this year!
Pruning the Dead (A Garden Squad Mystery)
1st in Series
Setting – Massachusetts
Kensington Cozies (January 29, 2019)
Mass Market Paperback : 352 pages
ISBN-10 : 1496714814
ISBN-13 : 978-1496714817
Kindle ASIN : B07CWD547N
Post-retirement aches and pains can’t prevent sixty-five-year-old Lilly Jayne from keeping the most manicured garden in Goosebush, Massachusetts. But as a murder mystery blooms in the sleepy New England town, can a green thumb weed out a killer?
With hundreds flocking to her inaugural garden party, meticulous Lilly Jayne hasn’t left a single petal out of place. But the picture-perfect gathering turns unruly upon the arrival of Merilee Frank, Lily’s ex-husband’s catty third wife. Merilee lives for trouble, so no one is surprised after she drinks too much, shoves a guest into the koi pond, and gets escorted off the property. The real surprise comes days later—when Merilee is found dead in a pile of mulch . . .
Lilly wishes she could stick to pruning roses and forget about Merilee’s murder—until her best friend and ex become suspects in an overgrown homicide case. Now, aided by the Garden Squad, an unlikely group of amateur crime solvers with a knack for planting, Lilly knows she has limited time to identify the true culprit and restore order to Goosebush. Because if the murderer’s plot isn’t nipped in the bud, another victim could be pushing up daisies!
Lily Jayne became a bit of a recluse when her beloved husband Alan passed away but her friends have encouraged her to get back to her more outgoing self because her husband wouldn’t want her to dwell any longer on his death. They decide a garden party would be a great way to get her life back on track. Sadly the problematic third wife of her ex-husband, Merilee crashes the party, causes all kinds of chaos, and has to be escorted away from the party.
The party did help Lily Jayne see it was definitely time to get back out there and participate. She missed a lot while she was mourning. One project she is excited to get involved in is the clean-up of a local park. A committee is organized and a group of volunteers arrives at the park and get busy but then Lily Jayne’s friend and housemate Delia makes a gruesome discovery. Merrilee Frank in the garden shed, lying on bags of mulch with hedge clippers “protruding from her chest”.
Lily Jayne didn’t think a murder investigation would be part of her return to community involvement but when people she cares about lead the suspect list she has no choice. She brings together a group of friends to be sleuths to help her catch a killer. The “Garden Squad” is born to dig into the clues and plant the murderer behind bars before anyone else ends up 6 feet under.
I immediately liked Lily Jayne. She was devastated by the loss of her husband and needed to take some time for herself. Her friends were supportive and understood. But they knew she needed a little shove which she did. As a former Goosebush mover and shaker, it was time to get back out there. She is such a kind woman with a huge heart. She has fantastic ideas and really cares about the residents of her town. Delia had been Lily’s husband’s graduate assistant and when Alan died she moved in with Lily. Even with the 40-year age difference, they became good friends. Tamara O’Connor is Lily’s best friend. They met in nursery school and have been friends ever since. It was Tamara’s idea to throw the party. We also meet several other residents of Goosebush. They are a diverse group and are all very cleverly crafted and true to real life.
Goosebush is a small town with a very unique setup. The author uses the first chapter to explain the “wheel” layout, with a prominent center and several “petals” branching off. This was very helpful because the characters travel all around the town during the book. A great picture formed in my mind and a map could be easily drawn out from the descriptions. I am sure the author has one nearby as she is writing.
The murder mystery was very entertaining with a plethora of suspects. A tightly woven subplot regarding city finances really grabbed my interest. Both had some nice twists and turns. The Garden Squad really spent time pruning through the suspects. I really enjoyed the way Lily got involved in all aspects. Her generosity was so heartwarming and her gathering all the suspects together to reveal the truth was magnificent. A fabulous time!
Pruning the Dead has set this series off on a spectacular start. Ms. Henry’s characters are so engaging that I didn’t want to let them go. I will be reading the next book in the series Tilling the Truth soon.
Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent
About the Author
Julia Henry works in the arts, teaches, and is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. She currently writes as Julianne Holmes and J.A. Hennrikus. A blogger for the Wicked Cozy Authors and Killer Characters, she enjoys writing cozy mysteries. For more information, visit jhauthors.com.
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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.”