Happy Book Release Day! Dead as a Door Knocker by Diane Kelly, Hot Fudge Murder by Cynthia Baxter, The Gun Also Rises by Sherry Harris, Death by Chocolate Malted Milkshake by Sarah Graves, Ellie's Redemption by Molly Jebber, What Doesn't Killer Her by Christina Dodd, Pruning the Dead by Julia Henry plus Murder, She Meowed by Liz Mugavero are a few of the new books that were published today.
Pruning the Dead by Julia Henry takes us on a jaunt to Goosebush, Massachusetts. Lilly R. Jayne is a widow who lives in Windward, the family home. Lilly has been reclusive since her deceased husband took ill and then passed away. Lilly made a promise to her husband, Alan to host a garden party every year on their anniversary and she is holding the inaugural garden party today with the assistance of Delia Greenway. Unfortunately, her first ex-husband, Pete Frank crashes the party with his insufferable third wife, Merilee. No one is surprised when Merilee overindulges in the alcoholic refreshments and then shoves Tamara O’Connor into the koi pond. Security ushers Merilee off the property much to everyone’s relief. On clean up day for Alden Park, Delia opens the shed to find Merilee dead on bags of mulch with hedge clippers protruding from her chest. When Pete Frank finds himself at the top of Chief Haywood’s list of suspects. Lilly, with the aid of her friends who are dubbed the Garden Squad, dig into the case in the hopes of identifying the killer. When not discussing the case, the group is trying to outwit the town clerk with her penchant for permits to spruce up select areas of the town. Can Lilly Jayne and the Garden Squad root out the killer?
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 (August 27) when it releases later this summer.
Thank you for stopping by today. I will share my thoughts on Ellie's Redemption by Molly Jebber next time. By the way, it is National Puzzle Day. The perfect day to stay inside and work on a jigsaw puzzle. I hope you have a lovely day. Take care, stay warm and Happy Reading!
The Avid Reader