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#58: Town in a Blueberry Jam by B. B. Haywood:
But the fact remained that Sapphire Vine was dead. Someone had killed her. And though Candy found it not only absurd but also literally painful to think that Herr Georg could have plunged a hammer into the back of Sapphire's head (not to mention how painful it must have been for Sapphire herself) the fact remained that he had an excellent motive for doing just that.


Synopsis: Debut of yet another culinary mystery series, this time set on a blueberry farm in Maine, but with bonus "if it weren't for you meddling" middle-aged divorcees speech and deus ex homine handsome.



By now I think we are all familiar with the setup: girl with awesome big-city career and husband determines Something's Missing and chucks both items to move back to a smalltown with a family connection and open some type of foodery, where she finds her true calling and oh yeah, a bushel of dead bodies.

Now, if I was the police chief in a small town, I think I'd be watching very carefully to see if any women fitting that description moved in, because they're like the barometer for a murderstorm.

Candy Holliday (please note: everyone in this book has a fairly awesome name. Sapphire Vine, Herr Georg, Judicious F.P. Bosworth, Jock Larson. Work with me.) has moved to a blueberry farm in Cape Willington, Maine with her aging father (Doc...Holliday. See, I told you.) and that right there would be your cue for a homicidal maniac to take over the town. Aging playboy Jock Larson falls suspiciously over a cliff! Gossip columnist Sapphire Vine is blunt-trauma'd in the back of the head! And our girl Candy's immediately on the case.

Lo does she investigate. She investigates so much and so well, in fact, that the police chief of Cape Willington goes from being horrified by her actions (breaking into a crime scene and yoinking key evidence, for a start) to offering her a job at the end of the book. And frankly, I cannot tell you the number of times that has happened to me.

Now, despite all the piss-taking in this review, I do have to say: this is a pretty fun book. It's easy and sunny and likeable. Candy is not wholly terrible and not wholly likeable. Her motivations are sometimes murky, and she's kind of officious and awkward at times, making her both complicated and interesting.

She has a best friend/sidekick who basically steals the book with her one-liners and her sass and her random tearing-aboutness, and I kind of want the two of them to scandalize their town by getting together like the women in Jae's Second Nature but without the werewolf thing.

There were, however, two things that got up my nose.

(Only two, you ask? I know. I feel like I am growing as person.)

Thing the First: There seems to be a terrible trope in these books where the author takes a moment for the heroine to describe herself in detail. And the details are always glowing and the heroine always looks way better than any mortal has a right to look. To wit:
The sun had added some color to her high, full cheekbones this summer and a touch of rosemary honey to the tips of her hair. It contrasted nicely with her eyes, which were a light shade of blue but bright--"the color of forget-me-nots in spring" her mother used to say.


Okay, am I the only person who has never thought of their hair in terms of whether it looks like it's been dipped in honey or not?

Dear authors,

Please stop doing that.

Thank you.

Thing the Second: During the book's thrilling conclusion (which I am not going to spoil for you because it was both thrilling and kind of kick-ass) there's a moment where you think that Candy and her sidekick are about to be saved by the town's Awesomely Handsome Man. They are not, in fact, which is fantastic, but then afterwards they both make a point of going up to said man and cooing at him repeatedly how wonderful it was that he saved them. Um, no. No. That is twaddle on a particularly poky stick. I do not want that.

Overall, though, the book's a darn good read, and I'll definitely be stalking the library for the second in the series, Town in a Lobster Stew.

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
katikat
Jun. 28th, 2010 05:07 pm (UTC)
Totally unrelated - Geoffrey Knight promised us a big romance in the Fathom's Five books. He said that the romance's already brewing slowly... A little in book 1, more in book 2 - you read book 2: Who could it be? In book 1, the only couple I can think of is Luca and Will...
catyah
Jun. 28th, 2010 07:35 pm (UTC)
OK, I see this recent gluttony of food-centered mysteries as an opportunity. I think we (and take that 'we' any way you want to) need to come up with some sort of theme mystery series that we can use to smother the food-themed series right off the shelves. (This is also handy in the sense that the other foodie mysteries that you still want to read will be available ultra-cheap to get them out of the way.)

What do you think -- zombie-themed mysteries? Adult Girl Scout leader mysteries? (No, there's too many cookies involved with that job.) 'The Office' tie-in mysteries in which cubicle-bound employees bludgeon each other in a variety of interesting ways? (Maybe that's just me...)

Gossip columnist Sapphire Vine is blunt-trauma'd in the back of the head!
*Why* does a small town that specializes in blueberries have a gossip columnist? Or shouldn't I ask?

And lastly, the main character's description of herself? Pardon me while I puke.
oddmonster
Jun. 28th, 2010 08:31 pm (UTC)
These series breed like rabbits, it's true. I've been trying to keep a list, but it seems like every time I turn around, three more exciting debuts have been plopped onto the conveyor belt. Donut shops, cupcake bakeries, sweet shops, regular bakeries, a blueberry farm, a tearoom, a coffeehouse, a winery, a TV cooking show, a cooking class--all of them have a series. We must wrack our brains to find the missing niche.

And all of their protagonists describe themselves in similarly honey-covered and glowing terms. Just once I want someone to be honest about their protagonist: "Her hips had seen better days and most of the time her outfits came right back out of the hamper when she woke up late. Combined with the excitingly non-brushed state of her hair and the fact that her glasses had seen better days, she frequently reminded people of a privet hedge after a particularly wet summer."

And thank you: is a gossip column not the worst idea ever for a smalltown newspaper? What about that setup does not scream, "This way to the butthurt" ?
deiseach
Jun. 29th, 2010 11:22 pm (UTC)
Taxidermy-themed mysteries!
At least then they'd have an excuse for falling over dead bodies. Animal bodies, okay, but at least more plausible than "I'll just pop this cake in the oven - oh drat, there's another corpse in the fridge and it's only Tuesday."

If that's too distressing for the tender-hearted readers (all those cute dead animals!) then, um, how about the wacky adventures of Millie and Tom, part-time coroners and full-time morticians in some quaint little town? Again, plausible excuse for tripping over dead bodies plus some shred of a connection to be hanging around annoying hard-working homicide cops.
oddmonster
Jun. 29th, 2010 11:27 pm (UTC)
Re: Taxidermy-themed mysteries!
hahahahahahahahahhahah
ow ooh ow

OMG. Laughed so hard I scared the dogs.

That's brilliant. That's. Just. Brilliant. I do love the taxidermy excuse. I want an unhinged taxidermist, though. One who stuffs the animals into little spangled jumpsuits and does a whole Elvis-themed display. One who gives them mohawks. One who recreates crucial scenes from Miami Vice with squirrels.

a w e s o m e

There is, I believe, a mortician's daughter who solves mysteries. She is pelted with the dead bodies of her classmates as this series is, if memory serves, FOR YOUNG ADULTS.

Well naturally.

One mo while I go look that up in case it's just an awesome flashback.
catyah
Jun. 29th, 2010 11:53 pm (UTC)
Re: Taxidermy-themed mysteries!
OK, that suggestion is absolutely what I was looking for! And as if the timing of it (it was a long day at work, and I SO needed some humor to lighten the mood) wasn't good enough, I had *just* been reading 'Not Always Right' when I saw deiseach's reply.

THIS post at 'Not Always Right': http://notalwaysright.com/some-guys-are-made-of-the-right-stuff/5981
oddmonster
Jun. 29th, 2010 11:57 pm (UTC)
Re: Taxidermy-themed mysteries!
OMG awesome. I sort of want to go have tea with that woman now.
deiseach
Jun. 30th, 2010 09:08 am (UTC)
I demand my Miami Vice squirrels immediately!
Just pictured a squirrel doing the Crockett Jazz Hands and ZOMG!

And taxidermy animals are scary enough, but a squirrel done up as Castillo, in a neat black suit, exuding his air of quiet and efficient menace with "I can kill you in several different and excruciating ways using my eyelashes alone - don't make me raise my voice"?

I'd confess to any number of murders!
oddmonster
Jun. 30th, 2010 01:44 pm (UTC)
Re: I demand my Miami Vice squirrels immediately!
I love that you went for Castillo. I of course, pictured stuffed squirrels in Undercover Ho-wear, complete with neon green spandex leggings and tropical floral tube tops. BOO YAH, VICE, YOU FEMINIST MAINSTAY YOU!
deiseach
Jun. 30th, 2010 09:12 pm (UTC)
Don't encourage me
Of course I went for Castillo. Quiet, polite, neatly-dressed and the scariest guy in the precinct.

Oh lord, now I'm getting visions of Larry and Stan squirrels, complete with model van and tiny electronics gear clutched in their paws.

Howzabout we have our taxidermist-sleuth winding up each case in the grand tradition of the detective having everyone gathered in the drawing room and doing the "So who did murder Annabel Jones? Was it Mrs. Pomphrit? or Colonel Smythe? No, Dr. Addison, it was you!", only with little tableaus of the murder re-enacted by stuffed animals, which he (or she - it has to be she, doesn't it, for these series novels) moves around to demonstrate exactly how Dr. Addison snuck into the boathouse and bludgeoned Annabel with her pet rock when everyone thought he was fifty miles away doing an emergency spleen removal.

Hey, I think it'd work!
deiseach
Jun. 29th, 2010 11:18 pm (UTC)
Not just any old honey, but rosemary honey.

Now, I admit, when I was a good deal younger and somewhat stupider, I did once describe myself as having "hair like a sheaf of barley" but that was possibly under the influence of alcohol. Feel free to point and laugh.

Were I a police chief and some amateur jam-making bint broke into my crime scene and scorfled my crucial evidence, I would be thinking less "My goodness, I am so impressed by her initiative and fresh angle on the case that I will gladly ask for her assistance!" and more "I'm going to lock you up in a cell so far back in the jail, they'll have to pipe sunlight into you."

Plus, anyone who calls their daughter "Candy" needs a good slap :-)
oddmonster
Jun. 29th, 2010 11:24 pm (UTC)
Okay, under the influence of alcohol, who among us has NOT compared themselves to a sheaf of barley? I ask you.

They named her Candy because she was born on Halloween...YEAH.

And yet. And yet! I had a great time reading the book! Jam-making bint ftw! I cannot explain it except to say I was waiting for the Candy/Maggie revelation like whoa, and that the plot really was surprisingly good. I am shocked.

Well. I guess it's time to chuck it all in, move to a small town and start waiting for the bodies to plummet merrily around me. Question: do I have to change my name?
deiseach
Jun. 30th, 2010 09:19 am (UTC)
I shudder to think of other holiday themed names
Oh, you definitely would have to change your name to something befitting your new occupation of being a gourmet sausage maker and amateur sleuth.

Something exotic, quirky, and pun-filled, yet redolent of your hair that's the colour of smoked kippers and your periwinkle eyes (the shellfish, not the flower), not to mention your high and full sun-bronzed cheekbones.

Lutetia (because you were born on the same date as the capture of the town by Caesar) Snitzel-Ponders?

Camellia Duckworth?

Fall of the Bastille McMurtry?



oddmonster
Jun. 30th, 2010 01:51 pm (UTC)
Fall of the Bastill McMurtry, reporting for unofficial duty, complete with hair like glistening pork
Wait hang on, that description might need some revision.

I confess I have yet to see gourmet sausagemaker hit the list, nor meat-related occupations of any kind, with the exception of a chili cook-off by Susan Wittig Albert. But her protagonist, China Bayles...runs a teashop/herb store.

In this stunning new series, meat amateur sleuth Cleopatra Melts. After Patty takes over the local butcher shop in Twaddle, MN, the first thing she hacks up is her pesky downtown business neighbor, Marge Rina. Proprietor of the butter store across the street, Marge had voiced her opinions of the new butcher loudly and often, and after she publicly confronted Patty about the size of her veal cutlets, she's found wrapped in wax paper* in the dumpster behind Patty's Meat n' Greet.

With a neat cap of hair like a well-fitted sausage casing and gammons to die for, will this stunningly beautiful sleuth find out who greased Marge before the local police chief finds her a cell? Or will she find love (and chitlins) first? Find out! In!

For Who the Cleaver Thwocks


*Not plastic. That's been done, people. To death. (aaaaaahahahahahahahahhahaa. I slay me.)
deiseach
Jun. 30th, 2010 09:26 pm (UTC)
Re: Fall of the Bastill McMurtry, reporting for unofficial duty, complete with hair like glistening
"Call me Tillie, all my friends do", Bastille McMurtry murmured to the handsome gentleman with the enormous sausage.

It was the Extra-Meaty Old Bavarian Hunter's Delight on special offer this week only, buy four for the price of three. Bastille appreciated a man who knew how to handle his meat, and the angle of his shadow as the noon sun hit his trousers, she knew this customer was an expert on what to do with a salami.

"Fall of the Bastille, that's an unusual name," the good-looking stranger said. "Was your father French?"

"No," Bastille replied. "But he liked to get blasted on cognac and sing the "Marseillaise" when stuffing an all-natural pig-gut casing with roughly-chopped pork and the secret ingredient, freshly-plucked tansy, so when I was born, naturally he named me after his favourite public holiday."
oddmonster
Jul. 2nd, 2010 07:31 pm (UTC)
Re: Fall of the Bastill McMurtry, reporting for unofficial duty, complete with hair like glistening
I am so glad you're on my f-list. So glad.

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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