May has been anything but merry for Cam so far. Her parents have arrived unexpectedly and her crops are in danger. But all of that’s nothing compared to the grim murder of her neighbor, Nicole Kingsbury, the once proud owner of the town’s new hydroponic greenhouse—just after Cam’s mother publicly protested Nicole’s use of chemicals to feed her crops. Showers may be scarce this spring, but suspects keep sprouting up. Lucky for Cam, her father turns out to have a knack for sleuthing—not to mention dealing with chickens. He and Cam will have to clear Mrs. Flaherty’s name quick before the killer strikes again . . .
Praise for the Local Foods Mysteries
“Maxwell’s feisty heroine and the interesting background detail on the realities of organic farming blend to deliver a clever, twisting mystery.”
“A most enjoyable look at organic farming.”
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Mulch Ado About Murder
By EDITH MAXWELL
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2017 Edith Maxwell
All rights reserved.
Cam Flaherty sank her head onto the steering wheel in the parking lot outside the Seacoast Fresh greenhouse. The repeated refrain of the protesters on the sidewalk behind her swirled like angry wasps. She straightened and whacked the wheel with her fist. "I do NOT have time for this."
"Hydroponics has to go. Soil-free plants, no, no, no." The small clutch of demonstrators formed an infinite loop with their signs.
Cam climbed out of her old Ford truck and retrieved her delivery from the back. A dark-haired man hurried toward her in the parking lot, but he stared at the ground and was on a collision course with her. She cleared her throat.
He glanced up with a pale, sweaty face and haunted eyes. "I'm sorry." He swerved around her.
She whipped her head to gaze after him. She'd never seen him before. Had he been in the greenhouse? He looked terrible, no matter where he'd been. Like he'd seen a ghost.
Nicole Kingsbury, the owner of the new hydroponic greenhouse in town, had contracted with Cam to start basil and lettuce seedlings for her at Cam's Attic Hill Organic Farm. Cam stared at the two flats of baby basil plants in her arms. She hadn't expected to encounter her own mother in the small group of locals marching in a circle on the sidewalk in opposition to Nicole's venture.
Deb Flaherty had arrived last week with Cam's father, William, for their first visit since Cam took over the farm from her great-uncle, Albert St. Pierre, a year and a half ago. And somehow Deb had jumped into the fray of the debate about what "organic" should mean. Nicole said she planned to feed her water-grown crops organically. Purists like this group of protesters maintained that organic should mean food grown in soil, not in solution, that organic growing included the whole naturally balanced system of soil, water, micro-organisms, beneficial insects, and healthy crops and animals. Cam held an opinion somewhere in the middle.
It hadn't occurred to her parents to ask their daughter if she had time for them to visit, time to show them the sights of northeastern Massachusetts.
"No," Cam muttered to herself, "I certainly do not have time." The end of May was crazy busy on a small organic farm. She had a zillion seedlings to plant out in the fields now that the frost-free date was past. She needed to harvest asparagus, rhubarb, and scallions. And she definitely didn't need her quirky, peripatetic academic parents to be hanging around her farm and the small town of Westbury, where it was located. One town in from the coast, two towns south of New Hampshire, as she liked to tell prospective customers.
Nicole had let out a nervous, jerky laugh when Cam had asked her about the name of her business.
"Isn't Seacoast Fresh a little odd, since Westbury is a good ten miles inland?" Cam asked, when Nicole showed up at her farm a couple of months earlier.
"Sure, but I like the name," Nicole said. "And I'll be using marine products in the feeding solution." That day Nicole wore black jeans with a red jacket. She'd worn red and black every time Cam had seen her since, which went with her high-energy personality. It was like being in the presence of a hummingbird when she was around Nicole: always moving, and always moving fast.
"How did you find me, anyway?" Cam asked.
"Bobby said to call you."
"Bobby Burr?" The handsome carpenter had rebuilt Cam's barn last summer.
"He's my cousin," Nicole had said. "He's helping me put up the greenhouse."
Now one of the protesters shouted, staring at Cam as she reached for the greenhouse door, "Why are you dealing with her? You should join us instead."
At least the shouter wasn't her mother. Cam shook her head without speaking and let herself in. The greenhouse door clicked shut behind her.
"Nicole," she called out, "I'm here with your seedlings." The air pressed in warm and humid, with a familiar scent of moist potting soil and plastic. She sniffed, detecting an acrid note of chemicals, too. That was odd for a supposedly organic business.
The only sounds were the whir of the big ventilation fan in the end wall and the now-faint repeated calls from the demonstrators. Parallel rows of white pipes at waist level stretched out in front of her. Two-inch holes pierced the tops, some with green leaves spilling out of the holes, others awaiting the potential crop she was delivering. Cam needed to get back to her own farm this afternoon. Days stretched long a month before the summer solstice, and she usually worked outside right up until dusk.
"Nicole? You here?" Cam's voice didn't quite echo, but it rang out like she was the only human in the structure.
Strange. Nicole had said she'd be on-site all day. Like Cam, she was going nuts getting her business under way in time to take advantage of the plentiful light of a New England summer. She had a well-equipped new greenhouse, though, and a visible spot right on Main Street near the center of town. Nicole had moved to Westbury from Florida in a postdivorce scenario, according to Bobby. Cam didn't know much about her except how she dressed and that she was a devout Catholic. Bobby had told Cam that Nicole's divorce proceedings were caused in part by her affair with someone she'd met at a religious retreat and that she was anguished at being out of favor with her church because of the divorce.
Nicole still didn't answer. Cam shrugged and headed for the opposite end of the long structure. She approached the worktables where she'd seen Nicole direct-seed crops and assemble the nutritional slurry that was sucked into the feeding pipes running under the plants' roots. The open slurry vat, three feet in diameter and about the same in height, stood in the far corner behind white plastic shelving.
Cam set her flats on the trestle table next to a travel coffee mug. She dug a scrap of paper and a pen out of her messenger bag. The pen poised, she shook her head before stashing them again. Instead she sent Nicole a quick text.
Left you the seedlings. Let me know about more. Sorry about the protest — not my doing.
Cam turned to go. A ding sounded a few yards away. Cam twisted her head to look. Had Nicole gone out and left her phone behind? The sound came from beyond the open shelves holding various planting supplies and tools. Cam looked harder and gasped. She took a step, but her foot felt anchored in thick mud and her gaze would not leave the far corner. She took another step, and another, until she was dashing, barely breathing, nearly tripping to the vat.
"No," Cam wailed.
Nicole sprawled jackknifed over the vat, her red shirt hiked partway up her back. Her head hung just above the slurry. Her left hand dangled outside the vat clutching a string of tiny, bright red beads with black dots at their ends. The gold cross on the rosary glinted in the filtered light. Nicole's eyes didn't glint. Nicole was dead.CHAPTER 2
Or was she? Cam reached out a shaking hand to feel Nicole's neck. She couldn't detect a trace of a pulse under the cool skin, which had a bluish tinge. A shudder rippled through Cam. Goose bumps popped up on her arms and legs. Nicole was beyond help. Poor Nicole. Cam shook her head fast and pressed nine-one-one on her phone, which she still gripped.
She'd found a body in her own greenhouse a year ago, but he'd been a victim of murder. She narrowed her eyes, blinking away her reaction. Surely this wasn't murder, too. Had Nicole tripped? But how had she died? Did she have a heart attack? She was young, around forty, Cam thought. Or maybe she'd killed herself. But Cam couldn't see blood or a wound.
"Hydroponics has to go. Soil-free plants, no, no, no," drifted in through the plastic like a taunt to death.
When the dispatcher answered, Cam told her what she'd found and agreed to stay on the premises, not touching anything.
"Is the person you found in need of medical help, Ms. Flaherty?" the dispatcher asked.
"No. She's dead." Cam's voice trembled. She swallowed hard. Her stomach jounced like she rode in a boat on rough seas. She sucked in a breath. That man with the haunted eyes she'd seen before she came in. He might have done this to Nicole.
A minute later, sirens roared up to the property. The Westbury Public Safety Complex was only a quarter mile down the road. Cam's childhood friend Sergeant Ruth Dodge hurried into the greenhouse, followed at a slower pace by George Frost, the town's chief of police.
Cam stuck her hand in the air and waved frantically. "I'm back here," she called, her voice scraping. At nearly six feet tall, Cam knew they could see her over the top of the shelving unit.
"What do we have?" Ruth asked when she reached Cam's side. Hefty to Cam's slim, she was nearly as tall, one thing of many that had united the two when they'd played together during Cam's summers on Great-Uncle Albert and Great-Aunt Marie's Westbury farm. Ruth was in the official black uniform of the force, her waist covered by a wide, heavy duty belt. She moved between Cam and Nicole's still form.
"I came over to deliver some seedlings I'd started for Nicole," Cam began. She waited to go on until Chief Frost ambled up. "She didn't answer me when I called out. I'd just sent her a text when I heard her phone ping. I saw red in this corner and I came over to check. She's dead, isn't she?"
"I assume you didn't touch anything." Ruth circled the vat and bent over to peer at the rosary.
Cam hadn't noticed at first that the string of beads seemed to have a few gaps. "I felt her neck for a pulse." Cam's throat thickened until it threatened to choke off her own pulse. "I didn't touch anything else over here. My seedling flats are on that table." Cam pointed as she swallowed and took in a deep breath.
"What's in this thing?" George asked, frowning at the vat.
"I don't know exactly what goes into it," Cam said. "But it's the nutritional slurry that feeds the plants she's growing. She says it's organic." She brought her hand to her mouth. "I mean, said." Her voice quavered.
"And maybe it isn't? That what those ladies out there complaining about?" he asked. He folded his arms across his chest and frowned.
Those ladies being her farm's most avid volunteers and customers: Felicity Slavin, plus Cam's mother and a couple of other locals. Cam blew out a breath. "It's kind of complicated. You probably don't want me to explain it right here and now."
"No, I guess I don't," Frost answered.
Two more people rushed in, this time carrying bright red bags. When they arrived where Cam stood with the officers, Frost shook his head. "No need for medical attention, I'm afraid. We'll need a pronouncement instead."
"You got it, Chief," one said. He carefully approached Nicole's body. Cam watched as he listened for breath, checked the pulse in her neck for what seemed like a long time, and shined a little flashlight in her eyes.
"I can use the paddles to make sure she can't be shocked back, but we'd have to get her out of there and onto her back," the paramedic said to Chief Frost.
"No." Frost shook his head. "We haven't even started with the crime scene. Just pronounce."
The paramedic checked his watch and somberly said, "Time of death, fifteen twenty-six."
The other paramedic stared at Nicole. "Reminds me of another death I attended," he said.
"How do you think she died?" Cam asked. She cocked her head. It had gone quiet outside. Seeing emergency vehicles must have stunned the demonstrators into silence.
The paramedic glanced at Chief Frost.
Ruth cleared her throat. "Not really your business, Cam." Her brown eyes were kind but firm.
"Did you have any grievances with the victim, Ms. Flaherty?" Frost asked.
"No! Not at all." Did he think she had hurt Nicole? What a ridiculous idea. "We were working together. I was growing seedlings for her. She could count on good organic stock, and I received a little extra cash at a time in the year when I need it. Like now. But I didn't know her, really."
"She pay you promptly?" Frost asked.
"Did you see anyone in here? Anybody leaving before you came in?"
"I didn't see anyone in here. Except Nicole. But as I arrived, a man passed me in the parking lot. He looked upset about something. I didn't recognize him at all."
"Describe him," Ruth said.
"Slight, dark haired. Green shirt. Haunted eyes."
Chief Frost raised his eyebrows. "Haunted?" "I don't know. It was an expression on his face, in his eyes. Like he'd seen something bad."
"Or done something bad, more likely." The chief, who towered over Cam and Ruth by a good six inches, nodded. "We'll need a more thorough statement from you later, but you can go ahead and leave now."
"But sir," Ruth began. She glanced at Cam and back at her superior. "She found the body. Doesn't that mean ..."
Cam knew Ruth well enough to know that she was questioning the chief. When it came to regulations versus friendship, for Ruth regulations won every time, and Cam respected her for that.
"Heck, we know Cam. She's been through this drill before, and it's not like we don't know where to find her. She can go," he said gruffly. He narrowed his eyes at Cam. "By the way, you know any of those ladies walking around with signs out there?"
Rats. Cam cleared her throat. "The short one with the long gray braid is Felicity Slavin. The one with her hair pulled back is Deb Flaherty. I don't know the names of the other two."
"This Deb any relation?" Frost asked, his eyebrows raised.
Cam nodded slowly. "She's my mom."CHAPTER 3
Cam followed the EMTs out of the greenhouse. The pair headed for the ambulance and drove away, sirens quiet, lights unlit. Cam hurried toward the clump of women on the sidewalk in front of the greenhouse. A fresh breeze ruffling Cam's short red hair was a relief after the warm humidity of the greenhouse, but the afternoon sun was still high and she had to shield her eyes with her hand.
"Cam, what's going on?" Felicity folded her hands in front of her chest, worry etched on her face. She wore an Indian print tunic in her signature colors of purple and turquoise.
"Police cars? Ambulance? At first we thought they were coming for us," Cam's mom said, her light blue shirt bringing out the blue in her eyes, eyes exactly like Cam's. She hurried to Cam's side but stopped short of actually touching her. Deb was shorter than Cam by a few inches and, despite being a lifelong academic, moved with the athleticism of her earlier days as a college soccer star.
"I think you'd better end your protest, ladies." Cam gazed at the group, her eyes moving from one to the next. She skipped over her mom and ended on Felicity. "Go home and put your signs away."
"We have every right to demonstrate, Cameron," Deb said, lifting her chin. "We've stayed on the sidewalk." She held a neatly lettered cardboard sign high. It read Don't Dilute Organic. Say No To Soil-Free Hydroponics.
A passing car tooted its horn, whether in solidarity or disagreement Cam couldn't tell.
"It doesn't matter anymore," Cam said.
"What do you mean?" her mother asked.
"Nicole's dead," Cam nearly whispered.
The collective intake of breath was sharp and fast.
Felicity reached out and touched Cam's arm. "Did you, is she ..." Her voice trailed off.
"Yes, I found her. She's in the greenhouse. She's dead." The words were harsh, final, almost cruel. But that was the reality this afternoon.
"The poor thing," Felicity said, bringing her other hand to her mouth. "And poor you, finding another body."
The other two women looked at each other. One shook her head, her mouth pulled down and her eyes dark. "We didn't agree with Ms. Kingsbury. But we didn't wish her dead."
"Of course not," Cam said.
Deb blinked. "How did she die?"
"I don't know." It figured that her mom would go straight to the cause and bypass feelings altogether.
"But it wasn't murder, was it?" Felicity asked, eyes wide. She'd been involved with Cam's farm since the beginning and knew of Cam's connection with more than one murder in the past year.
"I don't know." Cam turned her head to take in the greenhouse. Its new pointed-arch supports were unbent and strong, the plastic still clean and stretched taut, the wood end walls secure. Unlike the owner's life. She looked back at the women. "But just in case, I sure hope none of you was in there alone with Nicole today."
Deb blinked again. Felicity opened her mouth, but when Ruth emerged from the greenhouse door, Felicity shut it again. Ruth glanced around. She made her way with deliberate steps to the group.
"Hey, Felicity." Ruth nodded at the diminutive woman, whom she'd met at Cam's farm. "Ladies, I'm going to need to speak with each of you." She pulled out a pad of paper and a pen. "Names and addresses, please?" She surveyed the group, focusing on Deb. "Ma'am?"
Excerpted from Mulch Ado About Murder by EDITH MAXWELL. Copyright © 2017 Edith Maxwell. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Well, Ms. Maxwel has once again written a book that I can not put down! It's the beginning of summer, and Cam is hard at work on her farm. When her parents come to visit, she has to juggle hosting them and running her farm. But that seems fun compared to when her mother is a suspect in a homocide! Cam's mother was protesting outside of a greenhouse. When Cam finds the body of the owner, and they discover Cam's mom previously knew the victim, things aren't looking so good. Since Cam and her mother are involved, she can't spend as much time with Pete, her detective boyfriend. Cam and Pete's relationship is organic, just like Cam's crops! They have a great dynamic. William, Cam's father, is a pretty awesome character. He was also a good helper on the farm. Even though he's not great with crops, he is fantastic with hens. Seriously, this guy is the chicken whisperer! He was also a pretty good sleuth. Deb, Cam's mom, first comes off like a more hold you at arm's length kind of person. Plus she is keeping secrets. But as the book goes on, we get to see a warmer side of Deb. I loved how we got to see Cam and her parents become closer throughout the book. Cam is looking into the murder a little on her own. But I loved the way she wasn't constantly throwing caution to the wind and putting herself in dangerous situations. Let's be honest, sometimes cozy characters can be plain old stupid. Not Cam! She always kept her wits about her. The suspect pool was the perfect size. Not too many that you were drowning in them, but not only one or two. And it wasn't obvious at all! I was constantly trying to figure out what possibly could have happened. And right when I thought I just might have it figured out, I was thrown for another loop! And like I said before, her dad made for a great sleuthing sidekick! The details about farming were great. There was enough information for me to not only picture it, but to understand it as well. The book had a perfect mix of farming/sleuthing/personal. I can't wait for the next addition to this wonderful series.
This was a perfect book to read this time of year. I sort of consider my own garden organic, simply because I run out of time between weeding, watering and work to add any time for pest or disease control! I am pretty sure I have purchased tomatoes that were marked hydroponic, but have never given much thought to the rivalry between that and those who do organic farming. Or how that could naturally lead to murder! Cam Flaherty's parents were a great visiting addition to this book and it was nice to see how their grown-up relationship matured through out the story. Her dad William turns out to be a great asset many areas, including sleuthing and chickens! Cam's CSA model was interesting too. I really liked the idea of people getting to volunteer at the farm where the food will come from--a win win for both sides, as Cam gets some free labor out of it!
Fascinating story. Who killed the hydroponic grower and why? What is the significance of the broken rosary? What's with Cam's mother? When can Cam and her honey get together again? Good reading.
MULCH ADO ABOUT MURDER is a cute cozy mystery. The heroine is likable, and the farm references make it easy to visualize the scenery. The mystery aspect held my interest, with enough suspects to keep me guessing. This book is part of a series, but the only trouble I had with reading it as a standalone was the inclusion of a couple recurring characters who really didn't add anything to the story. Cozy fans will likely find this to be a satisfying read. Disclosure: I won a free ARC of this book in a giveaway.
Title: Mulch Ado about Murder - Local Foods Mystery Book 5 Author: Edith Maxwell Publisher: Kensington Books Published: 5-30-2017 Pages: 304 Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Sub-Genre: Amateur Sleuths; Cozy Mystery; Women's Fiction; Culinary Mystery ISBN: 9781496700292 ASIN: B01LIKQGES Reviewed For NetGalley and Kensington Books Reviewer: DelAnne Rating: 4.5 Stars Description It’s been a hot, dry spring in Westbury, Massachusetts. As organic farmer Cam Flaherty waits for much-needed rain, storm clouds of mystery begin to gather. Once again, it’s time to put away her sun hat and put on her sleuthing cap . . . May has been anything but merry for Cam so far. Her parents have arrived unexpectedly and her crops are in danger of withering away. But all of that’s nothing compared to the grim fate that lies in store for one of her neighbors. Nicole Kingsbury is the proud owner of the town’s new hydroponic greenhouse. She claims the process will be 100% organic, but she uses chemicals to feed her crops. To Cam’s surprise, her mother embarrasses her by organizing a series of loud public protests against Nicole’s operation. When Nicole is found dead in a vat of hydroponic slurry—clutching another set of rosary beads—Detective Pete Pappas has a new murder to solve. Showers may be scarce this spring, but there’s no shortage of suspects, including the dead woman’s embittered ex‑husband, the Other Man whose affair ruined their marriage, and Cam’s own mother. Lucky for Cam, her father turns out to have a knack for sleuthing—not to mention dealing with chickens. Will he and Cam be able to clear Mrs. Flaherty’s name before the killer strikes again? My rating of "Mulch Ado about Murder - Local Foods Mystery Book 5" is 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Another fresh, entertaining story in the Local Foods Mystery series. I get so excited each time I start a new book by author Edith Maxwell. I am always anxious at first thinking there is no way it can be as good as her other works. And then only a few pages in, I know how silly I was being, because each tale she writes is better than the one before! The proof is in the reading because MULCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING is the cream of the crop. I’m not an outdoorsy person, and I don’t eat vegetables (though I am a fruit fan), so what am I doing reading the Local Foods Mysteries? Well, as I mentioned above, I am a fan of this author’s writing. But I am also fascinated with the thought of little seeds becoming big, beautiful, eatable food. And Ms. Maxwell does make it sound fun . . . almost. ;-) I love spending time with series lead, Cam Flaherty. I think she’s a brilliantly written character. She’s independent, and knowledgeable, but not 100% perfect, which adds another layer of interest to her. It was great getting to see her interact with her parents in this story. I quite like her father, but her more I believe is an acquired taste. The murder mystery in MULCH ADO ABOUT MURDER is exceptional. There are many possible suspects, including Cam’s mom. So many people who would want to see the victim dead. Ms. Maxwell could easily have muddied things for readers with all that was going on, but she blended everything together perfectly, planting doubts, and leaving clues to harvest. And all led up to an action packed reveal, that left me feeling I had lived through the story myself! MULCH ADO ABOUT MURDER has everything you want in a cozy summer read, including great recipes. You’ve got to pick up a copy of your own!
New Farmer Dead in Her Greenhouse It is possible to learn new things by reading fiction. For example, I had never really heard of hydroponic farming or about the controversy surrounding it. Yet that forms the introduction to Mulch Ado about Murder, the fifth local foods mystery. You see, Nicole Kingsbury has just moved to town and set up a hydroponic farm in Westbury, Massachusetts. Cam Flaherty is excited to have another farmer in the area, and she has been starting some seedlings for Nicole in her hoop house while Nicole gets her new farm up and running. In fact, that’s what brings Cam to Nicole’s house that afternoon. Cam is greeted outside by protestors who think that, since hydroponic farming doesn’t use soil but chemicals to nurture the plants, it shouldn’t be counted as organic farming. What surprises Cam most about the protest is that her own mother, Deb, is involved. Both of Cam’s parents are visiting for the first time in several years, and obviously some things have changed since Cam saw them last. When Cam goes into Nicole’s greenhouse to deliver the seedlings, she finds Nicole dead. Naturally, the police question everyone who was protesting, but Cam can tell her mother is hiding something. What could it be? Will it have any bearing on the murder? And just like that we are off watching Cam solve another intriguing case. I might have oversold the hydroponic farming aspect of this book so far since it is only one possible motive for murder that Cam uncovers. With her mother being a suspect for some reason that Cam can’t understand, it keeps things interesting. There are plenty of suspects and secrets to uncover, and I was engaged the entire time. The climax was fantastic and perfectly logical as well. We’ve actually seen quite a bit of character growth in Cam over the course of the series, and we are reminded of some of that in this book. Seeing her interact with her parents provides another layer to her that I enjoyed. The rest of the regulars all get their moment to shine, and the characters introduced in this book are just as strong. Of course, with all the food mentioned here, you’d expect a few recipes in the back of the book. This time around, we get recipes for a kale and couscous salad, brown rice risotto, and a Swedish cheesecake. I hadn’t fully realized how much I’ve come to love this cast of characters until I started reading this book. It was truly wonderful to catch up with these old friends, and several developments in their personal lives definitely made me smile. So if you are a fan of the Local Foods Mysteries, you’ll be pleased to find out what happens next in Mulch Ado about Murder. And if you have yet to meet Cam, I recommend that you do so today. NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.
Edith Maxwell's Mulch Ado about Murder Murder, mystery, mayhem with an engaging plot, plenty of twists and turns are the ingredients for their story that you will definitely want to read!!!!! We are going to visit Attic Hill Organic Farm. It is located in Westbury, Massachusetts. The farm is owned and run by Cam Flaherty. Cam lives there with her Norwegian Forest cat, Preston and a henhouse full of egg laying chickens. She has a group of local volunteers who help her with gardening chores in turn for vegetables, herbs, eggs...anything she grows. Her parents are visiting her which is a very unusual occurrence. Cam was never close to them as they were traveling Professors. Will Cam and her parents be able to begin relating to each other sincerely? Cam is delivering several flats of basil & lettuce to Seacoast Fresh. This is a new hydroponic organic greenhouse. When she arrives, there is an anti-hydroponic protest in front of the greenhouse. One of the protesters is her mother. Why is she there?? Upon entering, Cam calls out to let the owner know she is there with her delivery. No one answers....This is very unusual. Cam goes to leave her flats when she discovers a body.... a dead body. It is the owner dead clutching a rosary. What happened? Was the death a natural one or something else? The variety of characters are well defined, very creatively described, vivid, colorful with a few quirky ones. Some will bring a smile to the reader's face, some will make the reader cringe but the myriad of character types rounds out the puzzling plot. There is an interesting trail of clues, lies and secrets uncovered. Plenty of suspense with many unexpected twists that rounds out the story. A well written cozy murder mystery. This is book # 5 in the Local Food Market series. It can be read as a stand alone as the writer weaves the past and present characters together effortlessly. I volunteered to read the Advanced Reader Copy. Thanks to the author and publisher via The Cozy Mystery Review Crew for the opportunity. My opinion is my own.
Cam Flaherty is settling in nicely to her new life as an organic farmer. She loves farming and has a great boyfriend, homicide detective Pete Pappas. But trouble brews when Cam finds her mother protesting at a client's business and that client ends up dead. Cam's nominal relationship with her mom is even more strained as Cam tries to get some answers about what happened and how her mother is involved. The author does a good job of getting the reader involved in Cam's farm life and personal struggles with her mom. The mystery moves at a nice pace with just the right amount of surprises. This is book #5 in the Local Food Mysteries series but could easily be read as a stand alone.
Mulch Ado about Murder by Edith Maxwell is the fifth book in A Local Foods Mystery series. Cam Flaherty owns Attic Hill Organic Farm in Westbury, Massachusetts. It is the end of May and a busy time for Cam on the farm. Cam heads into town to drop off some basil and lettuce seedlings to Nicole Kingsbury. Nicole is starting Seacoast Fresh, a hydroponic organic greenhouse. Cam arrives at Seacoast Fresh and discovers protestors outside the building. One of the demonstrators is her mother, Deb Flaherty. Her parents decided to surprise Cam with a visit. Cam skirts around the picketers and enters the greenhouse calling out for Nicole. Cam discovers Nicole deceased by the slurry vat clutching a rosary. Once again Cam is embroiled in a murder investigation with her mother on the suspect list. Cam wants to get her mother cleared of the crime and starts digging into Nicole’s life. Cam gets an unlikely sidekick in her father, William. Will this duo be able to uproot the killer? Mulch Ado about Murder is an easy to read cozy mystery. The book is nicely written and has a good pace (can be finished in just a couple of hours). I liked the main characters and enjoyed the addition of her parents (especially William). It was good to get more background on Cam and how her family influenced her life choices. Mulch Ado about Murder is a light cozy mystery with focus on Cam’s day to day life (the crops, taking care of the chickens, eating out, her boyfriend, parade, her friends). The mystery was medium level. There are a couple of suspects and a unique method of murder (the best part). When reading a mystery novel, the little details are the most important. That was definitely the case in Mulch Ado about Murder. I give Mulch Ado about Murder 3.5 out of 5 stars. I did find some information to be repeated a few times throughout the story. There were also some details brought up that were never addressed (what was in Nicole’s slurry, chemical smell Cam smelled). For instance, D.J. had left his bike at Cam’s farm while out of town. At the end of the book, D.J. arrives at Cam’s on his bike (had just returned to town and he had not been out to farm yet). While Mulch Ado about Murder is the fifth book in the series, it can be read alone. The author provides all the needed background information for someone to read and understand the story. I did like reading Mulch Ado about Murder and look forward to the next book in A Local Foods Mystery series.
Mulch Ado About Murder is the fifth book in the Local Foods Mystery series. A timely book in that Spring is coming and time to start with my garden, as is Cam on her Cam’s Attic Hill Organic Farm. Spring is a bad time of year to have company, but her mother and father have come for one of their visits with Cam. When Cam goes to deliver some seedlings to Nicole Kingsbury’s new hydroponic greenhouse she is shocked to see that one of the protesters is none other than her mother Deb. As Cam enters the greenhouse she calls out to Nicole but gets no reply. Cam soon finds Nicole’s lifeless body hanging over the edge of a vat of slurry, clenched in her hand is a rosary with some beads missing. Since Deb was in the area where Nicole died, she is soon on the police’s radar. In addition, Cam feels that there is something that Deb is not willing to share concerning Nicole. As Cam was about to enter the greenhouse she spotted a man, who was unknown to her, leaving the area. Later she learns that it was Nicole’s estranged husband. When she learns that he is in need money, she sees the need to look into his activities. As she continues to investigate she learns that a local insurance agent had been at a marriage counseling retreat when Nicole had and they had an affair. She wonders if Nicole had rejected him and he killed her. Another that she is considering is Orson Page who runs Fresh Page which is the same type of business Nicole’s and he decided to get rid of the competition. Cam needs to figure out who the killer is before her mother is fitted for an orange jumpsuit. Some of the regular cast are back, but Cam’s father, William is there to take the edge off the murder investigation. William is a brilliant professor but in not much of gardener. Cam finds that he is great at handling the chickens and collecting the eggs, but has been banned from weeding, as she soon learns he doesn’t know the difference between a plant and a weed. Ms. Maxwell once again provides the reader with a well-plotted and told story with a cast of interesting characters. I particularly enjoy this series and enjoy learning more about what goes into the running on an organic garden. I will be watching for the next book in this exciting and informative series.
What do rosary beads, a drought, and a vat of hydroponic slurry have in common? All three are key ingredients in Edith Maxwell’s newest cozy mystery, Mulch Ado About Murder, the fifth book in her delightful Local Foods Mystery series. Spring has not been kind to the residents of Westbury, Massachusetts, and Attic Hill Organic Farm owner, Cam Flaherty, is also looking for relief from the dry and humid weather. Instead of getting a much needed downpour, Cam discovers the dead body of Nicole Kingsbury, the owner of another organic greenhouse, leaning over a vat of hydroponic slurry clutching a set of rosary beads. Nicole’s hydroponic process is the focus of local demonstrators who are protesting Nicole’s use of chemicals in her hydroponic process which, they feel, makes her products non-organic. When her mother becomes a suspect in Nicole’s murder, Cam and her father join forces to find the real killer. I really enjoy the series, and this book does not disappoint! The characters are very well developed, relatable, and really do seem like the folks I grew up with in our small farming community. I especially loved how heavily Cam’s parents were integrated into the plot and how Cam began to see them in a whole new way. The mystery itself has its own twists and turns to keep the reader guessing and keeps their interest until the end. Just a wonderful cozy and excellent addition to this great series! I was provided with an advanced reader’s copy by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.
I received Edith Maxwell’s “Mulch Ado About Murder” for free in exchange for an honest review. I generally rate books as 3 stars, as I have this one, and for me a 3 star book is one worth reading. This is the 5th book in the Local Foods mystery series and the 1st I have read. There was no problem coming into the series late in understanding the story. The strength of the book is author’s ability to describe settings. That said, I have am very familiar with small towns in agricultural areas of Massachusetts, although less familiar with those north of Boston where this book is set, and may have an easy time imagining the setting. The book makes me want to go check out Rye NH, a minor location in the story. I read my 1st Edith Maxwell book the day before this one (Delivering the Truth) and the author’s gift for setting description was evident there too. A second strength is the main character – Cam Flaherty, single & independent organic farmer, now working a long-held family farm after taking her life in a new direction. Cam is a modern cozy heroine, with many, apparently brief relationships in her past, who is likable but not lovable. I will read the rest of the books to find out if she enters the realm for lovable. The storylines are also modern, involving current immigration patterns and drugs as small elements in the story. However, secondary characters are much too numerous and not well defined. If Cam is intended to have a primary sidekick, it was unclear which character fit this role. And every book in a series does not need to mention every character already introduced in earlier books. I also would have liked to learn more about organic farming or hydroponic farming, of which I know nothing, but perhaps the earlier books supplied more information. The book moves along quickly, with several mention of modes of transportation (driving, riding, biking, walking) that help this along. I read the book in a few hours and my attention did not waver. Definitely a book worth a try for cozy readers and anyone who lives in the area where the fictitious Westbury MA is located.