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, Lilly’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!
About the Author
Julia Henry lives in Massachusetts, where she sets her mystery series. As Julianne Holmes she writes the Clock Shop Mystery Series, and as J.A. Hennrikus she writes the Theater Cop series. She blogs with the Wicked Cozy Authors (WickedCozyAuthors.com) and Killer Characters (KillerCharacters.com), tweets as @JHAuthors, is on Instagram @JHAuthors, and on Facebook. Julie works in the arts, teaches, is a member of the Mystery Writers of American and Sisters in Crime. For more, please visit JHAuthors.com.
Read an Excerpt
Goosebush was a place where most residents preferred that folks from outside didn't know it existed. The town had squared-off borders on three sides. The fourth side encompassed the jagged coastline of the south shore of Massachusetts, including inlets and marshes, a small harbor, and the great Atlantic Ocean. The town was one of the first incorporated after the Pilgrims displaced the indigenous tribe off the land when they started to expand their settlements. The upper corner of Goosebush belonged to the tribe, a settlement of sorts that the town had arrived at after years of legal and moral delays were finally resolved at the turn of the last century. At that time, the land seemed to be useful for its views only, since it was surrounded by water, and it felt the force of Mother Nature too often to make investments in infrastructure make much sense. But in recent years, the folks who still lived on the spit of land had reseeded oyster beds and leased a portion of the bayside beach to a research institution in Boston. That thrust of activity put Goosebush in the news for a bit, a state that made a few folks cranky, but that storm soon passed.
Unlike other towns that required and benefited from being historical sites and tourist destinations, Goosebush did not. Not that there wasn't a rich history — there was — and the folks who volunteered in the Goosebush Historical Society were more than pleased to talk about that to anyone who came by during their office hours in the town library twice a month. But there were no scheduled tours or town reenactments or guidebooks available. That wasn't the Goosebush way. It made planning the quadricentennial celebrations, which were two years away, challenging. To say the least.
Besides, there are some disparities with the history. "Facts are facts, but the truth depends on the teller," the late Alan McMillan used to say. He'd married into Goosebush when he fell in love with Lilly, a descendant of one of the original settlers of the town. For many generations, the Jayne family was property rich and cash poor. But the most recent descendant, Lillian Rose Jayne, changed that by establishing herself in the finance industry, making her family and many others extremely wealthy. The Jayne family, like many Yankee families, did not flaunt their wealth. But neither did they hide it if you took a good look around Windward, their family home.
The center of Goosebush was a rotary — called a roundabout or a circle in other parts of the country and known as the Wheel in Goosebush — from which well-traveled roads flowed, each of which ended in a rotary themselves. Someone had suggested they looked a bit like a flower, when all the side roads were included, so each road was called a petal. The southern petal led to Route 3. It was mostly residential, with a couple of churches settled along it. The east petal led to the shoreline and the town beaches. North was a shortened petal, due to the filling in of a marsh years ago that resulted in a lumberyard being located there, blocking the road. The Frank family had run the lumber business for years. Pete Frank Junior, PJ to most people, had struggled in recent years to keep the business running, but thanks to some new investors, he was on his feet again. Good thing. The lumberyard employed twenty people — not insignificant in a town of Goosebush's size.
The north petal was the main drag of Goosebush and included the most desired addresses in town. It ended in the Wheel, which was as close to a commercial district as Goosebush got. The Wheel, short for Captain's Wheel, included access to the police station, hardware store (Bits, Bolts & Bulbs), Paul's Grocery Store, and Spencer's Package Store. Directly on the Wheel was the Star Café, the post office, a real estate office, the local pharmacy, and a gas station. There wasn't a single national chain store in Goosebush. Folks liked it that way.
Schools, restaurants, and other stores were between the petals. On the north petal there was one spot, across from the boatyard, with an unobstructed view of the harbor and a distant ocean view. It was a triple lot raised higher than its neighbors, set back from the street edge. If you were new to town, you could be forgiven for not thinking there was a house up there at all, so difficult was it to see from the street and through the perfectly maintained privet hedge. But Windward was there, behind the reinforced stone wall. It was named after the ship of a very long ago Jayne relative. Access to the house and garage were granted through a gap in the wall and an electric gate. Not that it was used much. At least not much these past few years.
But today the gate would be open, as would the front door. Today Lilly Jayne was hosting a garden party, and she had invited over a hundred people to come. Lilly's friend and housemate, Delia, suspected double that number would show up, since guests would likely bring their curious friends as their plus ones. Lilly thought the number was more likely to be close to fifty. Considering that her best friend Tamara's family counted as ten people, including the grandchildren, Lilly was showing a pessimism her young friend did not share. The women split the difference and ordered enough food for a hundred people, but only after Delia assured Lilly she had found a place to donate the leftovers.CHAPTER 2
Lilly was wrestling with a rosebush in her back garden. Well, not actually the rosebush. The weeds from her next-door neighbor's overgrown garden had begun to creep over the garden wall, through her privet hedges, and into her rosebushes. Lilly hoped that the new owners cared about getting their garden under control, and soon. Rumor had it that they were moving in this weekend. Lilly would give them a day, maybe two, to settle in, and then go over to discuss the matter and offer help. She'd take blueberry cake with her. Delia's blueberry cake might win them over, even if her "gardens being a reflection of the soul of a home" argument did not. If nothing else, the food would help mitigate her cranky Yankee demeanor. Lilly was aware that she could be a formidable presence, and when she was younger, she had tried to mitigate that. Ever since she'd turned sixty, though, she didn't worry about it as much. As long as she had kindness in her heart, and she usually did, she didn't worry about how people perceived her. In fact, keeping folks off balance gave her tremendous pleasure.
She finally beat back the weeds and backed out of the bush slowly. She straightened up carefully and stretched backward, loosening her joints as best she could. Next, she rotated her hips back and forth a bit. Back in the day, she would get down on her knees, squat, stand up, and bend in all directions with great ease and no aftereffects. She was still in good shape for a woman in her mid-sixties, but she was a woman of a certain age. Attention must be paid, and her back appreciated her concern.
Lilly looked down at her arms. Minor scratches. She wasn't going to stay out much longer. There was just a bit more cleaning up that needed to be done in the garden before the party. The party. How did she ever let Tamara and Delia talk her into this?
"It will be good for you," Tamara had said, when she'd first brought the idea up to Lilly. "Let folks know you're back."
"Back from where? I grew up in this house. I traveled a lot in the past, but I've stayed put for the past few years." Since Alan got sick was the unsaid explanation.
"I was being metaphorical, Lilly. I meant you're back among society. And it's about time."
"Don't sugarcoat it, Tamara."
"I never do," Tamara said. "Do I, Delia?"
"No, you don't. That's one of my favorite things about you," Delia said. Delia had been Lilly's husband Alan's, graduate assistant. When he first got sick and everyone assumed he'd bounce back, Delia had helped him keep up with his class preparation and grading. After a few months, when it became clear he wasn't going to get better, he'd taken a leave from the university, but Delia hadn't taken a leave from Alan. She still came by every day to visit, caught him up on gossip, and supported Lilly however she could. Delia also helped Alan with his research, which allowed him to get most of the work done on his final book.
Delia was a brilliant researcher but did not get along with many people. Lilly and Alan were exceptions. When Alan died two years ago, Delia moved into the house, getting room and board in exchange for helping Lilly with repairs, shopping, and running the household. Alan had suggested the arrangement, knowing that the house was too big for Lilly to live in alone. It was the last kind thing that Alan had done for Lilly after twenty years of marital bliss. The women had become great friends despite their forty-year age gap.
Lilly took the pile of weeds and added them to the paper bag she'd been filling all day. Normally she liked to compost, but these weeds were insidious. Better to take them to the town compost pile, where they couldn't spread back into her garden. She ran her hands down the front of her legs. She was tired, but it was a good tired. The gardens were coming back after a couple of years of neglect. Some of the flowering bushes made her fight for their love, refusing to bud last summer after she'd neglected them all spring. She'd won them back over by protecting them with hay and burlap over the winter and feeding them her special fertilizer mix as soon as the ground began to thaw. She looked around and saw the color forcing itself out of the tips of the branches. She'd be rewarded with flowers this spring and summer. Her garden was welcoming her back. They were both coming to life.
There was always something to be done in the garden, which is one of the reasons she loved it. Her backyard was never going to be perfect, but she knew her attentions would pay off. Some of the time, the work she did was more of a long-term investment, like the herb garden she'd just put in and the tomato seedlings she was nurturing in the greenhouse. But sometimes, like today, the rewards were immediate. Weeds were gone. Mulch was down. The gardens looked beautiful and befitting the house they adorned.
Windward had been built over one hundred and fifty years ago. It was, at the time, the largest house in town, a Victorian monstrosity inside with elaborate gardens surrounding it. For many years, the inside of the house faded in glory, but the Jayne family always kept up with the outside. Lilly believed that gardens weren't just decorative, they were a life force. It didn't escape her notice that every member of the Jayne family died during the dead of winter, when gardens were fallow. Even Alan had rallied through the blooming season despite his illness. Sitting on the back porch, looking at the gardens, had been a tonic for him; he'd told her that every day when she took a break and went up to hold his hand while sipping her iced tea.
Lilly missed those days, hard as it had been watching the love of her life disappear. She looked over at the koi pond she'd created in his memory. Having one of his favorite statues in the middle — a modern piece made of twisted steel that looked a little like a woman from a certain angle — made her smile. She'd hated the piece when he'd bought it from a former student and had relegated it to the side of the house for years. He'd insisted on putting his hammock where he could see it. "It reminds me of you, Lilly, my love," he'd always say. Now it reminded her of him and had a place of honor in the center of her magnificent backyard.
"Earth to Lilly. Where were you?" Delia Greenway bounded down the stairs carrying two large glasses of an indefinable liquid. Delia didn't often see Lilly daydreaming. She stepped down, stood next to Lilly, and followed her gaze. Alan's pond, of course. Alan's memory still loomed large for both women. Delia hip-checked Lilly lightly and handed her a glass. "You've been out here a long time. The midday sun is strong, even if it doesn't feel it. Where's your hat?" Lilly took a tentative sip and smiled in relief.
Lavender lemonade. Phew. Lilly elected to ignore the green tint. Delia had been given to creating drink concoctions that she promised would cure whatever ailed Lilly and prevent what didn't. Some of them were delicious. Others were bracing. A few were not potable, though Delia insisted Lilly drink up. She'd only do so if Delia matched her sip for sip. Battles of will were commonplace in the Jayne house. They always had been.
"I'm coming in soon," Lilly said. "I found a few weeds that I'd missed earlier in the week."
"The weeds are growing quickly this spring, even if the rest of the plants aren't." Both women looked around. The winter had been long and brutal. Spring was always a loosely defined term in New England, but this spring had been cold and damp. Lilly knew that real spring and summer would eventually arrive, but she had to agree. That bright green surge had yet to happen.
"I think we're ready for tomorrow, don't you?" Lilly said. The party was planned for Saturday afternoon, when the sun would be warm enough for people to be outside and enjoy the gardens. Lilly had obsessively been checking the weather, and it seemed like it was going to cooperate.
"We are. Tamara is coming over in the late morning to help us set up. Tables and linens were delivered a little while ago."
"Really? Oh dear, I didn't hear the bell. Good thing you were home."
"Friday is a half day," Delia said. Delia was still working on her masters at the university but hadn't found another mentor like Alan. Her graduate assistantship hadn't been renewed, and she was taking one class each semester. Lilly had offered to help her pay for school, but Delia had resisted. Both women were stubborn, one of the reasons they got along so well.
"Well, good thing you were here. I'm hopeless, aren't I? I lose track of everything when I'm in the garden."
"You've got the magic touch out here. That takes concentration."
Lilly smiled and nodded her thanks. "I'm thinking about putting more container gardens around the yard this summer," Lilly said. "A couple of varieties of mint, rosemary, thyme. Anything else you need for those concoctions of yours?"
"I knew I'd win you over. Don't wince like that; they're good for you. I've got a list of plants upstairs I'd love to be able to use," Delia said. She ran her finger around the condensation on her glass, not looking up. "Hey, Lil, I have a friend who could source some interesting planters for you to look at. He was telling me about them yesterday. Concrete. They're made by a local artist who's trying to figure out ways to make money with his art. If you like them, it could help him build up his confidence and maybe build his business."
"Then by all means, I'm happy to take a look," Lilly said. "I love the idea of more art in the garden."
"Thanks, Lilly." Delia looked around and had to smile. The garden had dozens of nooks and crannies with statues, painted tiles, trellises, planters, and benches that were unlike anything she'd ever seen in another garden. She knew that Lilly liked to rotate items. She'd helped her more than once, but only moving the heavy things. Deciding where things should go was not Delia's forte. If it was up to Delia, she'd line everything up in even rows and group items by color. Lilly's artistic eye was second only to her gardening skills.
Maybe third. Lilly's ability to help folks — or put things right, as she said — was her best skill, in Delia's opinion. She'd known Lilly would be willing to help her artist friend. She also knew that her friend would never feel like he was on the receiving end of charity or that his talent wasn't appreciated.
"Your phone's been ringing off the hook," Delia said. She pulled the house phone out of her pocket to hand it to Lilly, who ignored it.
"Let it go to voice mail. And stay there, for all I care. The only people who call the house phone are bill collectors, people who found my number on voter rolls, and acquaintances to whom I have not given my cell phone number." Lilly moved her hips around in a figure eight and stretched backward as far as she could, which wasn't far.
"Lil, how come you're moving your hips like that? You okay? I told you to take it easy."
"I'm hardly an invalid," Lilly said, stiffening her spine a bit. Lilly was proud that she still measured five feet ten inches tall, even now, when many of her friends had lost an inch or two. She kept active, did yoga, and ate reasonably well. Except for Delia's baked goods. Cookies were her biggest vice, and one she had no plans to give up. Life was too short. Way too short.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Pruning the Dead"
Copyright © 2019 J. A. Hennrikus.
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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was a nice surprise. While it is a murder mystery, the story felt more about the characters. I really liked this one, the setting, the writing style and of course the Garden Squad. You can easily imagine the town. Looking forward to read more from this sereis. Good start.
A nice debut featuring a protagonist and a secondary cast of older characters. Several neighbors band together to form The Garden Squad which secretly does good gardening, etc., deeds around town. I felt the plot was more character driven than focused on the murder mystery, however the story was certainly interesting enough to hold my attention. I’m looking forward to the next book!
Author Julia Henry aka J. A. Hennrikus aka Julianne Holmes, sure knows how to pen a tale no matter what name she uses. If this first book in the Garden Squad Mysteries is any indication of what the rest of the series will be like, I need to clear my shelves for the next installments! One of the things about PRUNING THE DEAD that will stand out to many readers is the protagonist, Lily Jayne and her cohorts are older than most series leads and besties. While I enjoy the thirty somethings starring in most cozies (They make me feel young), I enjoyed spending time with a more mature group of characters. The writing in PRUNING THE DEAD is first rate. The further into the story I read, the harder it was to tare myself away. I was so involved in this book, I didn’t know how late it had become until I realized I could no long see the pages. Not only was it a spectacular mystery with more twists and turns than ivy vines, it was an entertaining story from cover to cover. And don’t miss the gardening tips at the end. I learned so many new things, I just may be able to keep plants alive now!
Lilly Jane has not socialized much since her husband passed so when she decides to host her garden party again it seems like the whole town is in attendance. This party and the up and coming clean up of the park in town has sparked her decision to get involved again in the community’s issues. On the day of the park’s clean up the body of a woman is found in the shed that was set up to store the equipment they were using. Lilly Jane and her group of friends can’t help but get involved with the investigation to help solve the murder before the town’s reputation can be damaged. This is a great start to a new series by Julia Henry. The plot is well written and has just the right pace with several twists and turns to keep the reader guessing whodunit. The characters are fun, unique and very likable. The setting of a small town makes you feel like you are apart of their group of friends and you are there solving the crime right along with Lilly Jane and the Garden Squad. I look forward to the next book in the series. I voluntarily agreed to read a copy of this book supplied by Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own and in no way have been influenced.
A new cozy mystery series. A different sort of mystery. In what way different? Don’t they all follow a general formula? Yes and no. There are common expectations for cozies such as the absence of graphic violence, sex, or language, and the presence of a likable main character who finds herself (or occasionally himself) drawn into solving a mystery, often in a small town. Pruning the Dead fits the bill. The manner of deviation is the amount of time the author spends setting up the backdrop, the small town of Goosebush, on the south shore of Massachusetts, the gardening theme, and the characters, some of whom take on the role of Garden Squad with the goal of replacing “weeds with plants” and restoring “order from chaos.” Lilly Jayne is starting to emerge from a cloud of grieving and depression following her husband’s death. She is rich and considered somewhat of a matriarch in Goosebush. Having neglected her civic duties for years during her husband’s illness, she suddenly begins seeing the negative changes that have crept into her hometown. Although the murder doesn’t occur until a quarter of the way into the book, don’t be lulled into thinking it is less than an interesting mystery. The time the author, Julia Henry, spends developing the characters and setting is time well-spent. Although I deduced the murderer as I approached the end of the book, I enjoyed reading how it played out, and there were many detours and suspects along the way that kept the journey interesting. Even though the second book in the series has not been published yet, I anticipate that readers will benefit by starting the series by reading Pruning the Dead, the first book. I look forward to reading the next book to see how the Garden Squad develops and what happens next in Goosebush, Massachusetts. I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Pruning the Dead is the debut novel in A Garden Squad Mystery series. I appreciated that the author took the time to establish the main character and her sidekicks who compose the Garden Squad. I like the town and most of the residents (there are always a few bad eggs). Lilly comes across as a do-gooder (I am surprised there is not a golden halo shining over her head). Goosebush is a small town that needs a little TLC. Lilly has not been paying attention the last four years as she dealt with her husband’s illness and then grieving for her lost mate. Now, she is aware that things have not been kept up around town and she has plans to rectify it. Unfortunately, Pat French, the town clerk, has numerous rules in place to prevent the simplest task (like pulling weeds and installing plants around the flagpole). Pruning the Dead is nicely written with steady pacing which makes for an easy to read book. The mystery was very straightforward. It is easy to distinguish who would die and who did the deed before the crime had been committed. The why was equally obvious (insert disappointed sigh here). There was repetition of case details as the Lilly and the Garden Squad got together to discuss the case. Also, that Lilly creates order out of chaos was frequently mentioned along with Delia’s researching skills. The friends like to get together to socialize, eat good food, and discuss gardening. The gardening details are not lacking in Pruning the Dead. There are gardening tips at the end of the book. The story could have used more action (less gardening, talking and eating). The pace slowed down when I was a quarter of the way through and did not pick back up until the end. There is a hint that romance may blossom between Lilly and her new neighbor, Roderick Lyden as Lilly rejoins the living and becomes immersed in town matters. I am giving Pruning the Dead 3 out of 5 stars. Pruning the Dead is a good start to A Garden Squad Mystery series. I will be reading Tilling the Truth when it releases later this summer.
Lilly Jayne is opening up her garden for a garden party for the first time in years, a first step toward getting back into life in Goosebush, Massachusetts, after the death of her husband. Unfortunately, getting back into life in Goosebush includes dealing with her first husband's current wife. Merilee Frank goes looking for trouble and does a very good job of stirring it up. She makes several scenes at the party, but the real shock comes a few days later when Merilee turns up dead. With the police looking at several people Lilly is certain are innocent, she begins to investigate with the help of her best friends. But can they figure out what really happened? This is the start of a new series, but I can already tell you I love these characters. Lilly and her "squad" are well drawn, and how much they obviously care for each other made me care for them. I do feel the book could have been a little tighter, especially at the beginning, but it never wandered for too long, and a strong gardening sub-plot helped keep me engaged. I did feel the third person narration head hopped a bit, a personal pet peeve, but that was a minor complaint. I love the setting, a coastal small town. This is exactly the kind of place I'd love to visit if I could. The mystery itself was enjoyable with several strong suspects. I began to suspect where things were going as we got close to the end, but I didn't have everything figured out until Lilly pieced things together for us.
Cozy New England Murder Mystery This wonderful story takes place in coastal New England. It utilizes gardening as a backdrop and focal point. The plot of the story has plenty of suspects and motives. It is very well done. All of the characters are deep and well developed. The reader gets invested in the story early on. The different people in the story could be easily found in any small town and in anyone's family. I hope that this is the beginning of a series because I would like to enjoy more of the lives of the townspeople of Goose Bush. I received this book for free and this is my honest review.
Pruning the Dead by Julia Henry is the first book in this new cozy series and I couldn't be happier. Ms. Henry is a "new to me" author but I am thrilled to have found this book. She has written a well-crafted story with very likable characters. I especially enjoyed the fact that the protagonist and her best friend are in their mid-sixties which is quite a change from the usual characters in cozy mysteries lately. I found the characters to also be relatable as Ms. Henry developed their personalities well in this first book. I am sure that readers will get to know them better as the series progresses. If I liked gardening more, I would want to join Lilly Jayne, Delia, Tamara and Ernie - the Garden Squad. The story was quickly paced with just enough twists to keep me guessing and plenty of suspects that made me question their honesty and motives along with Lilly Jayne. There was more than one mystery to be solved in this book but it was all connected as Lilly Jayne showed in the reveal. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book from Kensington via NetGalley. All of the above opinions are my own. I want to sincerely thank Kensignton for the opportunity to read and review this entertaining new cozy.
Pruning The Dead is the first book in the A Garden Squad Mystery series. This is a wonderful new series and I see where it will become one of my favorite series. The story takes place in the quaint village of Goosebush. The main character, Lilly Jayne’s family was one of the first residents and help settle the little town and were instrumental in making it grow over the years. Lilly had always been active in the community until her husband passed away a few years ago and has become somewhat of a recluse Since then she has devoted almost all her time to her garden which has residents in envy. Tamara, Lily’s friend since childhood and Delia, Lily’s late husband’s research assistant who has moved into Lily’s house and helps take care of the house, are able to finally get Lily to come out of her shell and host a garden party as she had in the past. As people are arriving for the party Lily finds that her ex-husband, Pete Frank, and his third wife, Marilee, are in attendance. After too many visits to the punch bowl, Marilee has an argument with Tamara is asked to leave. The next day Lily goes into town and notices how overgrown Alden Park and the Memorial flagpole has become and enlists the help of Tamara, Delia and Ernie Johnson, owner of Bits, Bolts, and Bulbs. As the group, The Garden Squad as they have named themselves begins their workday the body of Merilee in a shed located in the park. Merilee is not well liked in Goosebush so there ends up being a long list of suspects as to who the murderer might be. Soon Pete Frank becomes the prime suspect. Lily doesn’t feel that he is the murderer, so with the help of former police chief, Ray Mancini and her friends set out to help the inexperienced police chief, Bash Heywood to find the killer. I felt this was a wonderfully plotted and told story with a wonderful cast of characters. I feel that I would love living in Goosebush with its enjoyable residents. I’m looking forward to reading more books in this new series. I’m looking forward to learning more about the wonderful residents and the community. I’m especially interested in seeing if Lily and her neighbor, Roderick Lyden will become a couple in the future. Gardening tips are also included with the book.
I had the pleasure of reading this lovely book, the first in Julia Henry's new Garden Squad series, on a very cold January afternoon. In Pruning the Dead, the reader is introduced to Lilly Jayne - widow, master gardener, benefactress - and the town of Goosebush, Massachusetts. When Lilly's first husband's third wife (yep!!!) is found brutally stabbed during the cleanup of the town's park, Lilly and her merry Garden Squad work together to find the murderer, all while secretly, and under the cloak of darkness, performing good deeds for town residents who are in need. The mystery kept me guessing, and I am certainly looking forward to a return to Goosebush! 5 stars!!!
In this first book in new series we meet Lilly Jayne, a 65 year old grand dame in the town of Goosebush, Massachusetts. An avid gardener, voracious reader, and respected amateur sleuth, Lilly is well loved in her hometown. When the wife of her ex-husband is found murdered, Lilly truly believe he did not kill her, so she does her best to help clear his name and ensure the true culprit is brought to justice. A great start to this new series! The characters are strong and the story well written. It includes wonderful blend of characters across all ages, races, genders and income levels. It truly encompasses a town full of people from all walks of life. I found myself immersed in the book and had a hard time putting it down. Love the gardening tips as well. Can’t wait to spend time with Lilly and the gang in the next book. On my must read list!