Alyse Carlson is the author of the Garden Society Mysteries, including Keeping Mum, The Begonia Bride, and The Azalea Assault.
The Begonia Bribe (Garden Society Mystery Series #2)by Alyse Carlson
A beauty pageant for little girls—the Little Miss Begonia Pageant—has decided to hold their event in a/b>
Roanoke, Virginia, is home to some of the country’s most exquisite gardens, and it’s Camellia Harris’s job to promote them. But when a pint-sized beauty contest comes to town, someone decides to deliver a final judgment …
A beauty pageant for little girls—the Little Miss Begonia Pageant—has decided to hold their event in a Roanoke park. Camellia is called in to help deal with the botanical details, the cute contestants, and their catty mothers. She soon realizes that the drama onstage is nothing compared to the judges row. There’s jealousy, betrayal, and a love triangle involving local newsman—and known lothario—Telly Stevens. And a mysterious saboteur is trying to stop the pageant from happening at all.
But the drama turns deadly when Stevens is found dead, poisoned by some sort of plant. With a full flowerbed of potential suspects, Cam needs to dig through the evidence to uproot a killer with a deadly green thumb.
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Either as a cozy fan, or a gardening fan, I think you will enjoy the 2nd book in Alysa Carlson's Garden Society mysteries. Camellia has been tasked with an interesting duty in addition to her usual job, she is asked to help keep in line, many contestants in the Miss Begonia pageant. Not the garden variety contestants, these girls are all under 10 years old. In between her duties at the garden society, and her "baby-sitting" duties for the pageant, Camellia still finds time to get involved in the murder of one of the judges. Her boy friend, Rob, her BFF Annie, and of course Camellia's dad are drawn into it also. Ms. Carlson keeps a reader entertained and guessing to the very end. Not only do we have mystery, we have a love triangle, a divorce in the works and a possible custody case in the mix. As an amateur sleuth, Camellia stays on her toes, and keeps us there too. I look forward to more books in this series.
The Little Miss Begonia pageant comes to town and Cam takes on helping coordinate it in addition to her duties for the Garden Club. She quickly realizes the cute little contestants come with ultra competitive moms who will do most anything to help their daughters win. But the drama doesn’t end there. The judges include some real winners and when one of them ends up dead it is up to Cam to dig through a flowerbed of suspects because she knows the local police will be picking the easiest of the bunch and they will be wrong again. Alyse Carlson has found her cozy voice and brings us a fine follow up to The Azalea Assault. Cam Harris is a smart and savvy amateur sleuth. Along with her cupcake baking sidekick, Annie, and her reporter boyfriend, Rob, they can uproot the killer much to the dismay of Annie’s boyfriend Jake who just happens to be the local police. These are wonderful characters who just draw us in to their story. The author gives us so much detail about the park and its gardens that she paints a clear picture in the readers mind. A beautiful setting. There was a lot going on in this story in addition to the pageant – infidelity, lies, secrets, babies, graffiti, compromising photos, plus murder. At times it was a little chaotic and too many weeds among the flowers but by the end it came together nicely.
Mixing beautiful flowers and a beauty pageant for little girls sounds like an ideal match, but throw in a murder and you have the plot for an intriguing cozy murder mystery. It’s Camellia Harris’ job to promote the lovely gardens of the Roanoke Garden Society, but she never dreamed her job would include helping with a beauty pageant for little girls. When the Little Miss Begonia Pageant decides to hold it’s state finals in Elmwood Park, Cam has to spruce up the park in July, deal with the pint-size contestants and their sometimes mean-spirited mothers, as well as the judges. Cam finds the drama onstage doesn’t compare with what goes on with the judges - jealousy, betrayal and a love triangle. Local newsman Telly Stevens, one of the judges, is married to the executive producer of the local television station WONK but that doesn’t stop his womanizing. Meanwhile, it appears somebody is also trying to stop the pageant altogether. When Stevens is found dead, apparently poisoned by some sort of plant, the drama heats up. Cam has a whole garden of potential suspects and motives. She has to find the killer before the entire pageant fades away in the July heat. Author Alyse Carlson has created a likable and realistic character in her protagonist Camellia Harris. Carlson has given her strengths and flaws that makes her a friend we’d like to know better. The added traits of the secondary characters makes for a well-balanced story. Carlson has a good mix of friendship, suspense, humor and a dash of romance woven throughout the story. Moving at a steady pace, THE BEGONIA BRIBE draws the reader in and holds their attention until the last petal is dropped. While the setting is exquisite gardens, you don’t have to be a botanist to enjoy this cozy mystery. Cam and her friends will delight you as they hold you in suspense until the killer is revealed. Carlson’s eye for detail will place you in the middle of the action. This is a delightful summer read for the cozy murder mystery enthusiasts. THE BEGONIA BRIBE is the second installment in the Garden Society Mystery Series, but can be read alone. For more background on Cam and her colorful friends, be sure to read the first installment, THE AZALEA ASSAULT (June 2012). FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
The Begonia Bribe is the second book in the A Garden Society Mystery series. Cam has been asked by her friend Evangeline to help with the organizing of the Little Begonia Pageant to be held in beautiful Roanoke. At a dinner before the pageant begins, Telly Stevens a judge for the pageant has a run-in with a former lover and her date. The next day he is found dead close be where the pageant will be held. A couple days later his wife body is also found dead. With these two murders and some of the contestants having item stolen or destroyed it is time for Cam to starting investigating who might want to sabotage and possibly stop the pageant. So Cam, her boyfriend Rob and her close friend Annie out to find the killer. So using Rob's reporter skills and Annie expertise using the internet they are able to find the killer and tie it up in a neat package for the police. Even though this is a book of fiction, I did find it believable to see what goes on behind the scenes at these types of pageants.