"In Sugar Grove no one knew that maple syrup could be so deadly!"
Reviewed by Teresa Cross
Posted August 23, 2014
Mystery Cozy | Mystery Amateur Sleuth
Unlike a lot of mysteries that I have read, the main
character, Dani Greene in
Jessie Crockett's MAPLE MAYHEM, is not your typical heroine,
which makes for a
hilarious story. For one she is shorter than average, very
youthful, and has very
little experience with men. At least that is what her sister
and most of the
townspeople would tell you. Everyone is looking out for Dani
and giving her
advice on Graham who is a conservation officer and has an
interest in her. But he
is not the only one with eyes for her. While trying to see
where things stand with
Graham, Knowlton has been doing everything possible to make
her his wife.
However, Dani is trying to get to the bottom of some
vandalism of some of
the locals syrup productions. She was heading a cooperative
group with some of
the locals that will help cut the cost of production but
someone does not like her
ideas. What started out as a vandalism investigation turns
out to be a murder
investigation killing off the one person that everybody
thought was responsible.
With the resistance of support at times from the officer
that was left in charge,
Dani is now trying to solve the mishaps to everyone's
properties as well as a
murder without getting herself in a sticky situation.
MAPLE MAYHEM written by Jessie Crockett is one novel that
will have you
chuckling throughout its humor. Dani has a way of making
light of even the
gloomiest problems. The Sugar Grove Mysteries is a
new mystery series with
MAPLE MAYHEM being the second. Here is one reader that is
hoping there is
more to come. I have fully enjoyed reading this mystery and
had no way of
imagining who Crockett's villain would be at the end. What a
MAPLE MAYHEM is a great
novel about a small town that is full of surprises, great
characters, and maple
syrup. All you need to bring with you are the pancakes and a
In Sugar Grove, New Hampshire, people are serious about
their maple syrup—especially Dani Greene, whose family owns
the Greener Pastures sugarhouse. But when murder disrupts
the small-town sweetness, Dani pores over clues to draw out
Despite being a fourth-generation syrup maker, Dani isn’t
stuck in the past. She’s starting a new agricultural
cooperative that reduces costs for every syrup producer who
joins. Everyone considers it a sweet deal except the
die-hard curmudgeon Frank Lemieux—and when a saboteur
targeting supporters, everyone suspects Frank.
But it turns out they’re barking up the wrong tree when
finds Frank murdered in his own sugarhouse. As the sabotage
continues, she realizes that Frank was framed. With the
of her family, and a handsome official from the Fish and
Game Department, Dani must catch the killer before another
syrup maker kicks the bucket.
ExcerptI slid out from behind the wheel and gently closed my car door. It
had taken weeks for the local mechanic to repair my baby after it
lost a cage match with a cassowary but it had been worth the wait.
If anything, my vintage MG Midget was looking, and driving, better
than ever. All those weeks of tooling around in the fam- ily’s
dreaded spare car, the Clunker, had been worth it. I gave the
convertible’s soft top a little pat and let my fin- gers run along
the smooth shiny new turquoise paint, then headed into the most
photographed building in New Hampshire for some breakfast.
To the best of all local knowledge, the Stack Shack is the only
pancake stack shaped building in the world. It’s been featured in
travel magazines, cooking magazines, and even a book of odd
buildings. The place is built with enough curves and layers to make
any structural updates intimidating and costly, which is why Piper
was able to buy it on the cheap when she was barely out of high
school. She loves the Stack, which she knew she wanted to own and
run ever since the first time her parents took her there for
breakfast as a small child.
It’s conveniently located just off Sugar Grove’s main street with
plenty of on- and off-street parking, which it needs. The Stack, as
it’s called by locals, is standing-room-only on weekends and
holidays. It gets crowded to capacity on weekdays at breakfast and
The smell of fried potatoes and sizzling bacon filled the air. I
glanced up at the specials written on a section of wall covered with
chalkboard paint in the shape of a maple leaf. Piper stood behind
the counter, a coffeepot in her hand, looking for all the world like
she’d lost her best friend. Which I knew for a fact she hadn’t since
I was standing right in front of her.
“So what’s good this morning?” I asked. Piper looked up from staring
at the laminate counter in front of her like it held the answer to
all the world’s problems.
“Nothing.” Piper always had a great suggestion for ordering off her
menu. She never said nothing. If the spe- cial didn’t seem all that
special, you could be certain the pancakes would be.
“That doesn’t sound like you. What’s up?” I hoisted myself onto a
stool at the counter and gave my friend all my attention.
“It’s more what’s down. Profits.”
“At the Stack?” Business being slow at the Stack Shack was about as
likely as successfully training a moose to ride a bicycle. The Stack
had been profitable even during the Depression, when it had been
built as a roadside attraction with the idea of separating a
reluctant popula- tion from what little extra money they had. Things
had only improved since then for the country and the Stack. “No.
Jill and Dean’s profits.” That made more sense.
Jill Hayes and her brother, Dean, ran another sugarhouse in town,
but their operation was much smaller than my own, Greener Pastures.
Back at Thanksgiving Jill had lost her access to some trees she had
tapped for years and it had cut way down on her ability to produce
Her own property wasn’t all that large and with forty gallons of sap
required to produce one gallon of finished syrup, you needed to tap
a lot of trees. It hadn’t helped that last year had been terrible
for production. You need warm days and cold nights to get the sap to
really run and, unfortunately, Mother Nature had only been suffer-
ing from hot flashes. No sugar makers had done well and for those
already running on close margins, it had been a disaster.
“Do they think they’ll be able to hold on through this coming
season?” I asked. Piper was plugged into what was going on in town
because of her position as owner of the most popular eatery in Sugar
Grove, but also because Dean was her current winter fling. Every
year Piper has a winter romance and she takes it very seriously
while it lasts.
“Dean was just in here talking about how tight things have gotten
with the business and that they may decide to stop producing. He
said he’s trying to convince Jill to sell the property even before
the sugaring season gets underway.” Jill and Dean had inherited
their land from their parents, who had died several years before in
a car accident. Jill had finished raising Dean and one of the ways
they had made ends meet was by producing syrup. “I thought Jill said
she was going to wait it out to see if the maple cooperative would
make enough of a difference and then decide?”
“She wants to try to stick it out but she isn’t sure if they can.
Dean says the bank’s sending threatening letters and if it weren’t
winter, the power company would have cut off the electricity for
lack of payment.”
“I knew their name was listed in the last town report as one of the
owners behind on their property taxes but I didn’t know things had
gotten that bad.” I was glad, and not for the first time, that the
Greene family income didn’t depend on syrup making. Greener Pastures
was one of the largest producers in town. I was hoping we would grow
to be one of the largest in the state.
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