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 www.paigeshelton.com
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.