Dying for Strawberries (A Berry Basket Mystery #1)by Published 25 Oct 2016
|Dying for Strawberries (A Berry Basket Mystery #1).pdf|
With seasonal crowds flocking to its sandy beaches, lively downtown shops, and the Berry Basket, a berry emporium with something for everyone, the lakeshore village of Oriole Point is ripe for summer fun—and murder.
Much has changed for Marlee Jacob since she returned to Oriole Point, Michigan, three years ago. Between running the Berry Basket, dodging local gossip, and whipping up strawberry muffins, smoothies, and margaritas to celebrate the town’s first annual Strawberry Moon Bash, the twenty-nine-year-old hardly has time for her fiancé, let alone grim memories of her old life in New York . . .
But unfortunately for Marlee, Oriole Point is muddled with secrets of its own. First her friend Natasha disappears after an ominous dream. Next the seediest man in town threatens to crush her business. Then an unknown person nearly kills her on the night of the Bash. When she discovers a dead body while searching for Natasha, Marlee realizes she’ll have to foil a killer’s plot herself—before the past permanently stains her future.
Dying for Strawberries (A Berry Basket Mystery #1) Reviews
Marlee Jacob owns The Berry Basket, a business in the touristy town of Oriole Point, Michigan, selling berry-related items. After a run-in with the town's bully, Cole Bowman, who has promised he won't renew Marlee's lease, effectively closing her business, she's stunned; as are the rest of the townspeople, but for a different reason: it seems Cole has come into ownership of Strawberry Fields, a parcel adjoining the town, and plans to turn it commercial, allowing chains into their little village that will probably put local businesses out of business. What Marlee doesn't understand is how the four members of the council could approve such a move, since they are also local business owners; and blurts out at the meeting that they were either bribed or blackmailed into agreeing to it.
When Marlee is attacked on the night of the Strawberry Moon Bash, and no one will believe her, she's determined to find out who wants her dead. And when Cole's wife Natasha goes missing, she's convinced he's killed her, and decides to investigate on her own. She doesn't find Natasha, but she does find Cole...dead at his home.
Now she's convinced that he was killed by one of the members of the council, and learns that Piper and Lionel have hired detectives to dig up secrets. So Marlee decides to question each of them on her own, hoping to find out first if one of those secrets were terrible enough to cause one of them to kill Cole, and attempt murdering her. But it just might get her killed instead...
I don't like giving mediocre reviews, but I will tell you right off that I'm not compromising myself by giving a great one just to make everyone happy. Sometimes a book isn't always a stinker, but it still makes it hard to slog through. This, unfortunately, was one of those books.
It almost lost me at the beginning when Marlee apparently carries around an EpiPen because her boyfriend Ryan is allergic to bees. He works at his family's orchards, but allergic to bees - right. I carry one, but my husband doesn't because I'm not always with him. After all, he's not the one having an attack, so why would he need it? It's one thing to carry one for your minor child, but for another adult? It's also illegal. How stupid is Ryan that he would "forget" to carry it? I've never forgotten - not once. It just didn't make sense. And therein, folks, lies the problem. Beginning a book with something that just doesn't make any sense can skew the rest of the book for the reader.
Just because she was attacked she thinks it's perfectly fine to go around investigating peoples' pasts? Pasts that have nothing to do with her and she has no business knowing at all? At least it will be interesting in future books with the enemies she's made by doing that (surely these people can't be so forgiving that they ignore the fact she's forced them to tell her things they never wanted anyone to know). If I had even one of these secrets, I'd keep her out of my life forever. A person like this has no boundaries.
Not to mention that Ryan is a royal jerk. I was hoping he was the murderer (sorry, he's not). Why on earth she's interested in him is beyond me. Just because a guy's 'hot' doesn't make him a keeper. I have news for Marlee: if a man is hiding his past from you when you're going to be his wife, run as fast as you can in the other direction...because he'll do things in the future that he wants to hide from you, too. (One can only hope he "forgets" his EpiPen in a future book and actually does bite the dust). He treats her like a child, acts like her business isn't as important as his, and isn't around when she needs him. It also kind of seemed like she just capitulated when he wanted her; there was no sizzle between them, no connection, no real reason they're together at all.
And at the last, why would a reputable news source keep revisiting a TV chef's murder every single year? It wouldn't happen. It's not that riveting. There were also little things, like comparing every character to another person/book character (Ryan Gosling, Jasmine from Aladdin, Alice in Wonderland, etc.), and calling Drake a witch (a male witch is a warlock) - Drake should have corrected her - better yet, the author should have known this little fact before adding it to the story.
When the murderer was revealed, the killer wasn't really a revelation, and I had figured it out long before, but I will say that the reason for the murder was unexpected. Since this is the first in a new series, I have given leeway that the author is still honing her craft, and I will probably read the second one.
Dying for Strawberries is the first book in Sharon Farrow’s Berry Basket Mystery series. Ms. Farrow has written a well thought out and interesting mystery, with a good story line and character development, and enough twists and turns to keep the reader engaged.
Marlee Jacob, known as the berry expert, returned to her hometown three years ago and is the owner of the Berry Basket in the charming lakeside village of Oriole Point, Michigan. Oriole Point business owners are preparing for their first annual Strawberry Moon Bash. Marlee is worried about her friend, Natasha Bowman, who is in an abusive marriage. Shortly after astrologer, Drake Woodhill, scares Natasha with her horoscope, she has a strange dream about strawberries, and disappears after an argument with her husband, Cole. Marlee thinks Cole is responsible for her friend’s disappearance and an attempt on her life at the Strawberry Moon Bash, but because the local authorities are doubtful, she sets out to find her friend. While searching the Bowman’s house for clues, Cole returns home, and she hides upstairs. When she thinks the coast is clear, she slowly descends the staircase and finds Cole on the floor, with his head bashed in.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley.
Good start to a new cozy series, I love the main character and her relationships with her friends and the town folk in general.
One character I hated! when you read it you will know exactly who I mean and I really, really wanted to see them hit very hard in the groinal area multiple times with heavy objects but that might just be me.
I have the 2nd book in this series on my kindle and I think I'm gonna have to pick it up to get back into this world. Hopefully I'll be able to post a review quicker than I have been doing!
*Huge thanks to Sharon Farrow, Kensington Books and NetGalley for this copy which I chose to read and all opinions are my own*
Marlee Jacobs lives in Oriole Point, Michigan and runs a little shop called The Berry Basket. She was raised here but has just returned two years ago after being embroiled in a media shocking murder investigation in New York. Marlee loves her life here, is engaged to a gorgeous man, and has an amazing house on the lake. When a fellow shop owner is murdered and Marlee just happens to be on his house at the time, thinks start to haywire. Marlee is positive that the murder is tied into a real estate deal and blackmail, and she is going to prove it, even if it means alienating herself from the rest of the town.
This is the first book in the Berry Basket Mystery series. It amazed me that this was the first book. I felt like I had missed so much backstory. She keeps referring back to stuff, like the reader is suppose to know what she is talking about, so I was positive this was at least book 2 or 3 in the series. With it being the first, it is confusing why Ms. Farrow would write it this way. Maybe I am missing something...
As for the characters, some were good and some were cardboard cutouts. The main character, Marlee, was likable, but I didn't really understand her. The murder had nothing to do with her really, yet she went all out to solve it. And why would these other shop owners tell her stuff. I don't get it. I mean she was all for justice telling everyone that finding the murderer trumped their heartfelt secrets, but who was she to pick and choose what the police got to know and what they didn't. I didn't understand any of the motivations of most of the characters, except the murderer.
The mystery was good. I liked how it really could have been multiple people. It was a pretty straightforward cozy, except it really felt like you were reading the third book in the series. It was an okay read. I wouldn't preorder the next in the series, but I might read it. A give it a solid C.
* I voluntarily read an Advance Reader Copy of this book and gave an honest review *
I really enjoyed my visit to the small lakeside town of Oriole Point, MI and could just picture the little shops and lakefront Victorian homes like Marlee lived in. It was very well-written and plotted and at times, kept me on the edge of my seat wanting to find out what would happen next.
Marlee Jacob (her family was a Dickens fan--I loved the play on Jacob Marley's name) ran the Berry Basket shop in town along and like a lot of her neighboring shops, depending on tourist trade. When a local man, who wasn't very well liked to begin with, announced at a town council meeting that he now owned 30 acres that the zoning commission had voted to zone as commercial--and that he was going to allow big box stores to come and build, someone in town took matters into their own hands. He was found dead in his home by Marlee and her friend Tess. Since the mayor's wife had gone ballistic and punched him at the meeting, she was arrested for the murder.
Marlee was curious as to how the entire zoning commission, all of which were longtime residents of Oriole Point and supposedly shared the same belief that tourist trade was their sole income, could have possibly decided to allow a zoning change for something that would no doubt bankrupt many of the merchants. Could blackmail or bribery have been going on? After a brush with death herself, Marlee was still determined to find out the truth, and to complicate matters, someone from her past was in town trying to make Marlee's life a living nightmare.
I wasn't sure at all who the killer was in this and I loved the showdown because it was exciting with a great twist to it. The killer got hauled to prison and Marlee was somewhat of a hero to a very unlikely person, who, because of who they were, turned the tables to look like they were the big hero. Marlee didn't care, she was alive and she'd helped prevent someone else's death. The mayor's wife was cleared of all charges and announced that her helper for the next event in town would be Marlee! I'm guessing this will be the story of the next book, which I definitely plan to read.
I really enjoyed the characters for the most part. Marlee and her fiance' have an odd relationship. She'd found out something about him that he hadn't seemed to think was important to tell her, he's awfully jealous of a local guy who was Marlee's boyfriend in high school and was really just a nice and goofy friend to her now. It'll be interesting if they pick back up where they were or if he realizes he should have come clean with her about his past. I'm not a fan of birds as pets at all, but I have to admit I really enjoyed Minnie the parrot that Marlee adopted at her Aunt Vicki's insistence. There were a lot of different characters, so I hope in the next book we can get to know the main characters just a little bit better. I do like the main characters, but I don't feel like I know them quite as well as I thought I should by the end of the book. I did still enjoy it and want to read the next one!