Winter is peeking around the corner in most parts of the
nation but here in
sunny Florida, fall is just another growing season. We've already produced quite
a few lemons from our tree and I'm ready to start digging in the dirt again to
see if we can grow more tomatoes and peppers for my husband's yummy salsa. Cozy
mysteries about organic planting and farms always appeal to me when I'm planting
(or even thinking about planting) as they offer me tips, encouragement, and an
entertaining mystery in the process, particularly long-running series that make
me feel like I'm sitting down with old friends for a cup of tea.
One of the first cozy mysteries I remember reading that featured gardening was
THYME OF DEATH by Susan Wittig Albert. Long
before going healthy and organic was popular and you could find a Whole Foods or
Trader Joe's in almost every major city, the heroine, China Bayles, appeared on
the scene as a high-powered attorney who left her job to open an herb shop.
China has her own garden next to her store, Thyme and Seasons Herb Company, and
it's a place I've enjoyed visiting off and on over the years since the series
first debuted back in the early 1990s. One of the things I've grown to love
about the series is the tidbits on herbal uses that Susan Wittig Albert provides
us in her books. In THE LAST
CHANCE OLIVE RANCH, most of the chapters start with a quick fact on olive
oil while DEATH COME
QUICKLY shows us ways both herbs and flowers can be used, both for food and
medicinal purposes. Twenty-five years later, Susan Wittig Albert has her
twenty-sixth book in the China Bayles
series, QUEEN ANNE'S
LACE coming out. This series will always be one of my favorites as it
kindled my love for both cozy mysteries and gardening.
A present day ghost leads China Bayles to a secret from Pecan Springs's
past in this haunting mystery from New York Times bestselling author Susan
While helping Ruby Wilcox clean up the loft above their shops, China comes
upon a box of antique handcrafted lace and old photographs. Following the
discovery, she hears a woman humming an old Scottish ballad and smells the
delicate scent of lavender....
Soon, strange happenings start to occur in Thyme and Seasons: misplaced
items, a ringing bell, and the appearance of lavender sprigs in odd places. When
a customer mentions seeing a mysterious woman picking flowers nearby and then
suddenly disappearing, China must finally admit what Ruby has always
known--their building is haunted. But by whom?
As China investigates, the tragic story of a woman in one of the old
photographs unfolds. Annie Laurie was a young widow who'd lost both her husband
and her child in the same day. She manages to survive through her lace-making
business and finds happiness again only to have a suspicious death overshadow
her new life.
China delves into Annie's century-old mystery and realizes that solving it
could have unimaginable repercussions in the here and now.
Sleuth | Mystery
Woman Sleuth | Mystery Cozy
[Berkley, On Sale: April 3, 2018, Hardcover / e-Book,
ISBN: 9780425280058 / eISBN: 9780698190306]
Later, I discovered Edith
Maxwell and her wonderful Local Foods Mystery
series and my eyes were opened to the wonders of organic farming and co-ops. Cam
Flaherty's successes and struggles as an organic farmer are intriguing,
especially all the work that goes into running and maintaining a CSA (community
supported agriculture) from what she grows on her farm. A TINE TO LIVE, A TINE TO
DIE first introduces us to Cam and the various people who are part of her
CSA. As the series progresses, we see the various seasons, from the snow in FARMED AND DANGEROUS to
warmer days in MURDER MOST
FOWL. One of the things I particularly like about the Local Foods Mystery
series is that Edith Maxwell injects social issues that impact the farming
world, such as the animal rights issues that are part of MURDER MOST FOWL. Her most
recent book, MULCH ADO ABOUT
MURDER, digs into the world of hydroponics, something that has fascinated me
since I was a young kid and was first exposed to the concept at Disney's Epcot
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?
[Kensington, On Sale: May 30, 2017, Hardcover / e-Book,
ISBN: 9781496700292 / eISBN: 9781496700308]
A more recent author I've discovered who focuses her cozy mysteries around the
farming world is Wendy
Tyson. Her series, Greenhouse Mystery,
is only three books long but has earned a place in my favorites already. The
heroine, Megan Sawyer, is an environmental lawyer who has returned to her roots
to help run her family's organic farm and café. Wendy Tyson shows us another
side of the farming business as we see Megan tussle with zoning permits in A MUDDIED MURDER and sneaky
competitors in BITTER
HARVEST. SEEDS OF
REVENGE gives us a peek at the struggle of maintaining a livelihood during
the winter months. While I have no desire to ever expand into the farming
business, I'm pulled into Wendy Tyson's world where I can dream of eating only
the foods I grow myself.
It’s the holiday season, and the mood in Winsome is anything but jolly…Megan
Sawyer is determined to farm year-round. She’s braving a December snowstorm
after pitching her greenhouse greens to Philadelphia chefs when she sees a
stranger stranded on the side of the road. It’s Merry Chance’s niece Becca,
who’s headed to Winsome to sell her “love potions” at holiday events—or so she
Merry has an ulterior motive in inviting her niece to Winsome, but Merry’s
plan to reunite Becca with her estranged father goes awry when Becca’s father
turns up dead. Megan soon realizes that Becca was not the only person in Winsome
who despised her father. When Megan’s aunt, the famous mystery author, is
implicated through her novels, things become personal. Megan must follow the
literary clues while sifting through the victim’s sordid past, but can she
uncover the truth before someone else in Winsome is murdered?
Mystery Cozy | Holiday [Henery
Press, On Sale: November 17, 2017, Paperback /
e-Book, ISBN: 9781635112757 / eISBN: 9781635112764]
one liked Paul Fox but someone hated him enough to kill him....
books don't feature gardening specifically, but her series, Food Lovers' Village
Mystery series whets my appetite for homegrown food fresh from the
garden with each installment and thus deserve an honorable mention. Erin Murphy
is taking over her family's long-time business and remaking it as a specialty
food market. I love some of the discussions between Erin and her mom about the
differences in highly processed foods versus sustainable, non-chemically treated
foods in DEATH AL DENTE.
Village Series #1
The town of Jewel Bay, Montana—known as a Food Lovers'
Village—is obsessed with homegrown and homemade Montana fare. So when Erin
Murphy takes over her family's century–old general store, she turns it
into a boutique market filled with local delicacies. But Erin's freshly booming
business might go rotten when a former employee turns up dead?
Murphy's Mercantile, known as the Merc, has been a staple in Jewel Bay for
over a hundred years. To celebrate their recent makeover as a gourmet food
market, Erin has organized a town festival, Festa di Pasta, featuring the
culinary goods of Jewel Bay's finest—including her mother Fresca's
delicious Italian specialties.
But Erin's sweet success is soured when the shop's former manager,
Claudette, is found dead behind the Merc on the Festa's opening night. With
rival chef James Angelo stirring up rumors that Fresca's sauce recipes were
stolen from Claudette, Erin's mother is under close scrutiny. Now Erin will have
to hunt down some new suspects, or both her family and her store might wind up
in hot water?
INCLUDES FRESH, DELICIOUS RECIPES!
Mystery Cozy [Berkley
Prime Crime, On Sale: August 6, 2013, Paperback /
e-Book, ISBN: 9780425259542 / eISBN: 9781101624708]
First in a New Series Is Strong Enough to Stand Outside the Confines of Its
I'm constantly on the lookout for more books to motivate me to increase my
gardening skills. WHO MOVED
MY GOAT CHEESE?
by Lynn Cahoon
won't be out
till March 2018 but it's already on my wish list as it's first in her Farm-to-Fork
series and the description alone intrigues me. What are some of
your favorite cozy mystery series featuring organic food, gardening, or farming?
Angie Turner hopes her new farm-to-table restaurant can be a fresh start
in her old hometown in rural Idaho. But when a goat dairy farmer is murdered,
Angie must turn the tables on a bleating black sheep . . .
three weeks until opening night for their restaurant, the County Seat, Angie and
her best friend and business partner Felicia are scrambling to line up local
vendors—from the farmer's market to the goat dairy farm of Old Man Moss.
Fortunately, the cantankerous Moss takes a shine to Angie, as does his kid goat
Precious. So when Angie hears the bloodcurdling news of foul play at the dairy
farm, she jumps in to mind the man's livestock and help solve the murder. One
thing's for sure, there's no whey Angie's going to let some killer get her
goat . . .
Mystery Cozy [Lyrical
Press Underground, On Sale: March 6, 2018,
e-Book, ISBN: 9781516103812 / eISBN: 9781516103812]
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