Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Just Jennifer

Crime and Poetry by Amanda Flower

Violet Waverly left her hometown of Cascade Springs, NY near Niagara Falls just after she graduated from high school and has never been back.  Almost finished with her doctorate in literature in Chicago, Violet gets a call from her Grandma Daisy, who raised her, that Daisy is dying and Violet must return home at once.  Violet races back to New York to learn that Daisy has no plans on dying any time soon but wants Violet to take her place as the caretaker of the family bookstore, Charming Books.  Violet has always known there was something special about the store with a birch tree growing up through the center, but never realized the special talents Daisy has, and the books possess, to match the perfect book with the reader at the right time; Violet insists she needs to return to Chicago to finish her PhD and storms off to bed, angry with her grandmother’s deception.  The next morning, Daisy’s man friend Benedict Raisin is found murdered with Daisy’s scarf wrapped around his neck and Daisy is the number one suspect.  Violet agrees to stay in Cascade Springs until the matter is cleared up, but being back in her hometown brings back the memories of the death of her best friend and the boy, now mayor of the town, who betrayed Violet to save himself from the wrath of his parents.  As Violet navigates these mine fields, she also learns that the water springs that have made the town famous are in jeopardy and that more than one person may have had a reason for wanting Benedict dead.  Cascade Springs, murders notwithstanding, is a pleasant place to live with some interesting history connected to the Underground Railroad.  Charming Books is a delightful place to while away the afternoon seeing which books strike your fancy, and Violet, with two men hoping to catch her eye, is a resourceful young woman with a strong sense of responsibility to her grandmother now that she is back in her presence, and Daisy is playful and engaging and may just be able to convince Violet to hang around for another murder or two.

Rest in Peach by Susan Furlong 

Nola Mae Harper has returned to her home town of Cays Mill, Georgia to help with her family’s peach orchard and has decided to open her own business, Peachy Keen, which will sell all manner of peach preserves, jams, and conserves.  Just weeks from the grand opening, Nola Mae begins to get caught up in the excitement of the Peach Cotillion, the event of the season to be held at Congressman Wheeler’s mansion, and even agrees to help plan a peachy menu, thinking that might be a boost for her fledgling business.  She agrees to accompany her best friend Ginny to Hattie’s dress shop where Ginny’s daughter Emily’s cotillion dress, along with the dresses of many of the debutantes, has arrived.  Once in the store, the owner discovers a mistake was made and not only is she one dress short, but she allowed two girls, Emily and the daughter of Vivien Crenshaw, one of the nastiest and pushiest women in town, to order the same dress.  Ginny and Vivien have words, but Vivien claims the dress for Vivien’s daughter Tara.  The next morning, Hattie’s seamstress finds Vivien dead in the shop, a pair of shears in her throat.  Ginny becomes the main suspect and Nola Mae sets out to find a killer and save her friend.  Nola Mae finds that the polite, proper women of Cays Mill are not at all what they seem and many of them have secrets that Vivien had ferreted out, and someone wanted to make sure that one secret stayed dead.  Nola Mae also is trying to sort out her relationship with her handyman, one time boyfriend Cade McKenna; when she first returned to Cays Mill nine months ago, she thought they were back on track to a relationship, but now something seems to be holding Cade back and Nola Mae realizes she needs to tell Cade the reasons she left Cays Mill and face those difficult memories in order to move on with him.  Rest in Peach is a pleasant cozy set in a downhome Southern town with delightful, interesting characters, some of whom will stop at nothing to get what they want.

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