Weeding Out Lies: A Texas Flower Farmer Cozy Mystery
by Jackie Layton
It is my pleasure to welcome Jackie Layton to
Escape With Dollycas today!
Hi, I’m Jackie Layton. I’m a part-time pharmacist and full-time author. I’m the author of A Low Country Dog Walker Mystery series set on the coast of South Carolina. I’m also the author of A Texas Flower Farmer Cozy Mystery series. Weeding Out Lies was recently released, and it’s the first book in this series.
I’ve loved reading for as long as I can remember. Trips to the library were my favorite outings as a child. I loved the excitement of looking through the options and making my selection. Where I lived, you could check out six books for two weeks. I often read books to my younger brother, and I made up stories too.
I still remember the day I discovered Nancy Drew. We were visiting my grandparents, and it was a rainy day. I was hanging out in the bedroom where my mother grew up. There was a bookshelf in the corner, and on the bottom shelf were a few blue Nancy Drew books. I settled in and began reading my first mystery. I was hooked.
My mom is a big reader too, and she often shared her mysteries and suspense books with me. After we’d each read them, we’d discuss them. Sometimes I discussed how we could’ve changed the stories. After high school, I never considered becoming an author. I needed a practical job for a normal person.
I continued to read though. Mysteries, suspense and spy novels were some of my favorite books. Helen MacInnes was one of my favorite authors. I traveled to unknown places around the world, and I admired her so much. Later, I discovered Diane Mott Davidson. Her mysteries intrigued me, and I loved how the same characters returned book after book.
When I began writing, I thought romantic suspense would be my genre. I attended conferences and took online classes to learn how to write. At one conference, I talked to an editor. She asked if I’d ever considered writing mysteries. I broke out in cold chills. Yes. Car chases and running for your life wasn’t my best fit. Cozy mysteries with fun characters who solve mysteries. This was what I wanted to write. There was a learning curve, but I was much happier writing cozy mysteries.
I landed a fabulous agent who asked me to write in first person. So, another learning curve, but I trust my agent, and I learned to write in first person. It has helped me bond deeper with the main characters in my books.
Emma Justice is the amateur sleuth in Weeding Out Lies. Emma is a flower farmer, and I’ve enjoyed growing flowers for years. My husband helped me plan our gardens over the years, and neighbors were always so kind to stop by and brag on my garden. Emma also plans her gardens, but she plants flowers that customers will buy in bouquets or as stems.
Emma keeps notes on her flowers and what works and doesn’t work. These traits help Emma when she encounters a dead body one morning. Emma lives in the small town of Lutz, Texas and she knows most of the townspeople. Between being a local and usually having flowers with her, people open up to Emma. She’s a friend with the police chief, and he’s not crazy about her amateur investigation, but he can’t deny she gets answers.
I’d like to invite you to join Emma Justice and her friends as they try to solve the murder of Willow Moore.
Thank you, Jackie, so much for visiting today!
Keep reading for my review and more info about Weeding Out Lies.
About Weeding Out Lies
Weeding Out Lies: A Texas Flower Farmer Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Texas
Level Best Books (July 11, 2023)
Print length : 302 pages
ASIN : B0C7JT33B4
Flower farmer Emma Justice’s life is firmly rooted in Lutz, Texas where she has recently begun her new business. One morning while delivering flowers, she stumbles upon a prominent citizen. Dead. When a friend is accused of murder, Emma launches her own investigation. She’s used to separating weeds from flowers. Emma will dig for clues, weed out red herrings and cultivate a plan to find the killer.
Emma Justice has taken her passion for flowers and fills her days as a flower farmer, tending her gardens and making deliveries all over Lutz, Texas. That is until a well-known citizen is killed and one of Emma’s friends is the top suspect in her death.
Before the police even finish investigating the crime scene or talk to anyone Emma is snapping pictures with her phone and aggravating the chief of police. Questioned and released Emma goes to her happy place, her garden.
Pulling weeds relieves stress for her and also gives her time to think over what happened. Within minutes she decides she has read plenty of mysteries, the least she could do is try to solve the case and save her friend. But while she is digging through clues and weeding out lies she is putting a target on her own back. You can bank on the killer trying to stop her. She could be pushing up daisies in her own garden soon.
Lutz, Texas is a great little small town with a wide variety of residents. The perfect place to set a cozy mystery series.
Emma was a little bit annoying at first for both me and the chief of police but she soon started to grow on me. Her heart was in the right place, she was just a little overzealous jumping into her own investigation of the demise of Willow Moore. She is a new empty nester with too much time on her hands but she does have good instincts even though she sometimes leaps before she thinks. Her friend, Brett owns the local coffee shop but he has been missing from the place for a few days. His friends, Jake and his sister Celia have taken over the shop until he returns. Jake is an interesting character. Ex-military who seems to be dealing with some PTSD. He quickly befriends Emma and really tries to keep her out of trouble. Police Chief Young also tells her to stay out of his case but she doesn’t heed his warning at all. All these characters were introduced well and developed nicely by the end of the story with plenty of room as the series continues.
I love that Emma ends up adopting a lovable golden retriever named Cowboy. There is nothing better than a dog to help us empty nesters deal with our kids leaving home. Emma and Cowboy have a bit of a traumatic start but they both needed each other and Cowboy quickly finds a place in both Emma’s home and her heart.
The mystery was very well-plotted out. It was much more involved than I originally thought it to be. One person alerted my spidey sense early on but I needed much more information. The clues did fall into place for me before they did for Emma. That set up a very dramatic showdown with skilled thinking by Emma in an extremely terrifying situation.
Weeding Out Lies has set the Texas Flower Farmer Cozy Mystery Series off to an exceptional start with some charming characters, an intriguing mystery, and a small town filled with possibilities for more mayhem and murder. I am curious and excited to see what Ms. Layton has planned for the people of Lutz next.
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More About Jackie Layton
Jackie Layton is the author of cozy mysteries with Spunky Southern Sleuths. Her stories are set in Texas, Georgia, and South Carolina. She lives on the coast of South Carolina where she enjoys walks on the beach and golf cart rides around the marsh. Reading, gardening, and traveling are some of her favorite hobbies. She always keeps a notebook handy to write down ideas for future stories. Be careful what you say around her because it might end up in a book.
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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.”