Monday, April 05, 2010

Farm Fresh Murder by Paige Shelton

I loved Dan Craig's cover illustration for Farm Fresh Murder so much, that it was the first cozy mystery I selected for April. Paige Shelton's debut mystery introduces Becca Robins, a farmer, an impulsive ball of energy. Let's hope Becca's bad instincts don't get her killed in a future book.

Becca's speciality is making jams and preserves from the strawberries and pumpkins she grows on her farm in South Carolina. She's so caught up in her current project that she's late for the daily farmers' market, and misses all the excitement. It's a call from her twin sister, Allison, manager of Bailey's Farm Market, that sets Becca on a mad course of action. Becca's friend, Abner Justen, had an argument with a new vendor at the farmers' market, just before the man ended up dead. By the time Becca arrives at Bailey's, Abner is already a suspect.

It's not that Becca thinks the police can't investigate the murder. She wants it solved quickly, because she's worried about all the vendors. But, she's most concerned about her friend, Abner, and the secrets he's keeping. Becca thinks her insights into the people she's worked with for years will help her find the killer faster than the police can.

However, Becca doesn't really know as much about the other vendors as she thinks she does. Although Abner and other vendors try to wave her off, Becca thrusts herself into the case, asking questions of friends and strangers. And, that kind of behavior can only lead to trouble.

It's hard to know what to say about Becca Robins and Farm Fresh Murder. On one hand, Becca embodies so much that is criticized about cozy mysteries, the impulsive amateur sleuth who has no place in an investigation, but pushes her way in, endangering herself and others. There were problems with this book, people covering up for the actual killer, the actions of a sleuth "too stupid to live," that so many of us complain about when mentioning the fatal flaw in mysteries. Officer Sam Brion gives Becca too much information. Even so, Farm Fresh Murder shows promising signs for the future books in this series. Becca, her sister, and some of the other characters, such as Ian Cartwright, a vendor, and Officer Brion do have personalities that could be developed in future books. It's an interesting setting, a farmers' market, for future books in the series. Between the characters and the setting, Paige Shelton and the Farmers' Market mysteries show potential.

Paige Shelton's website is

Farm Fresh Murder by Paige Shelton. Berkley Prime Crime, ©2010. ISBN 9780425233870 (paperback), 304p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent my copy of the book, in hopes I would review it.


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I'm like the setting and the cover is really cute! Maybe the author will hit her stride with book 2.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Lesa said...

I hope so, Elizabeth, because I really want to like this series. I just was very frustrated with Becca at times.

Lori Thornton said...

I added this title to my wish list sometime last month when I saw something in a list of upcoming books. Like you, I loved the cover art. The setting seemed promising. Your review makes me anticipate reading it just a little bit less, but I think I still want to give the series a try.

Kay said...

Lesa, I'll give this one a try I think. I feel that so many of the cozies that get so terribly specific as to setting or hobby or whatnot do end up straining credulity when bodies keep popping up. It's a curse I guess. Happily, my credulity meter is set very high! LOL

Avery Aames said...

Lesa, I think that is the hardest thing in an amateur sleuth mystery. You have to suspend disbelief for a moment and allow that curious people will poke their noses in. There are fixers in this world and they think they can fix anything. They're fearless. And it is the bain of the cozy that the setting is so specific to a town and a knot of people. We, as readers, just don't want the protagonist to do something so stupid that it will harm themselves and others. And we don't want the police to be so stupid as to not do their jobs! Give the author a second try. You liked to much of this first one.

~Avery Aames
Mystery Lovers' Kitchen

Lesa said...


I hope you do try the book. I liked the characters. I was just frustrated by Becca's actions at times.

Lesa said...


I'm with you. I can suspend disbelief easily. Becca just seemed to lunge at this investigation more so than many amateur sleuths, without even giving the police a chance.

Lesa said...


I'm definitely going to give this author another try when the next one comes out. You're right. I liked too much of this one not to try it again, and I'm hoping she'll continue to grow as an author.

bermudaonion said...

This sounds perfect for this time of year and the fact that it's set in South Carolina is an added bonus!

Lesa said...


I hope you enjoy this debut mystery!

Kris said...

Thanks for a good review. I'm going to add it to my wish list because it sounds interesting and it sounds like a lot of the issues you had with it are sometimes common with the first in a new cozy series. If you think it has potential, I'm willing to give it a try.

Lesa said...

I do think it has potential, Kris. And, I like to start with the first in a series. I think the author can do a great deal with her cast and setting.

Rob said...

I love farmer's markets and include them in my travels. Thanks for writing about this book. I'm reading it now and am halfway through. It's going well and I'm enjoying the characters.

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Rob! I'm glad one of the mysteries fit your interest. So, where was the best farmer's market you've been at, and what made it special?