I love the Three Investigators series, but this particular book is not as good as the rest. The crime and the hiding of the stolen dog statue are clevI love the Three Investigators series, but this particular book is not as good as the rest. The crime and the hiding of the stolen dog statue are clever enough (for an MG mystery), but the other books in the series always take a very Holmesian logical view that all things that appear to be supernatural are explained away rational; this book does not. The ending of the book actually leaves the young trio of sleuths believing in some supernatural mumbo-jumbo, which is completely out of character for them. Read this one only if you're a big fan of the series and can't bear to skip even one book. Otherwise, choose Stuttering Parrot or Phantom Lake or Skeleton Island -- or pretty much any one of the other books in the series. ...more
Disclosure: This book won't be released until 8/4/15. I snagged a copy from an out-of-state friend of mine who got it from the publisher -- and passedDisclosure: This book won't be released until 8/4/15. I snagged a copy from an out-of-state friend of mine who got it from the publisher -- and passed it on to me (because she knows I love cozies!).
Paige Shelton's cozies are a cut above the average. A cozy isn't meant to be fine literature. When I rate If Onions Could Spring Leeks with five stars, I'm comparing it to other cozies, not to Harper Lee's Go Set A Watchman. Cozies aren't supposed to be Pulitzer Prize material, so I'm not judging them by the same standards. And I do give Onions five stars.
Onions is the fifth book in Shelton's Country Cooking School series, the basic idea of which is that Betts Winston has come home from law school, back to Broken Rope, Missouri, where she now assists her grandmother teaching cooking classes. The catch is that the ability to see ghosts -- and sometimes travel to a parallel plane of past existence -- runs in the Winston family, at least while they're in Broken Rope. Thus, former inhabitants of the town get mixed into all Betts' mysteries. In Onions, it's high tourist season, and Betts has volunteered to drive a motorized wagon to shuttle tourists around town during the days (as the cooking classes are on a summer night schedule). She finds the body of an annoying, unlikeable man in the barn which houses the wagons -- and then someone knocks her out. The trouble isn't finding suspects; the trouble is that far too many people had a reason to get rid of the man. But Shelton also works in a side plot involving ghosts-- one of whom was murdered and several of whom might have been murderers. The murder from the past is tied by various locations to the modern murder, so Betts is stuck in the middle of both. And let's not forget that sexy Jerome! ;) Betts' ghostly boyfriend is so much more interesting than her live one! I would recommend that readers take the whole series in order to make things less confusing, but I suppose one could just "drop in" and read this book and still enjoy it. (The problem would be that because Shelton is so much better than average cozy writers at developing characters, a reader who has not seen the growth of Betts, Gram, Teddy, Jake, and Jerome might lose quite a bit of the depth that's actually there.)
PS. Shelton gives recipes for nearly every food item mentioned in the book -- except for green bean casserole (but then everybody knows how to make that!)...more
Meh. It was OK. My problem with this book was that the characters were so unbelievable. The protagonist was all right, but all the men seemed to be overMeh. It was OK. My problem with this book was that the characters were so unbelievable. The protagonist was all right, but all the men seemed to be over-protective and straight out of the 1950s, telling the women what they could and could not do all the time. Bleah. And the author had no real concept of age. One character runs (literally) around in a park and has a girlfriend; McKinlay has him behave as if he's about 60 years old. But then she comments that this man was 40 years old in 1970. Since the book was published in 2015, that makes the character 90. NINETY. Ninety and running around in a park and dating a 40-something bakery owner. Ummm..... right. And then she throws in Leo and Atom, a couple of "teens," who think they're ghostbusters and act like they're nine years old. Oh, and once McKinlay uses them to give out a bit of information to the protagonist, she leaves their whole part in the plot unresolved and hanging. So, meh. That's the best rating I can give this one. The recipes were pretty good, though. :)...more
There is a reason why Paige Shelton is my favorite cozy author. Bushel Full of Murder is the latest in Shelton's Farmers' Market series, but Shelton woThere is a reason why Paige Shelton is my favorite cozy author. Bushel Full of Murder is the latest in Shelton's Farmers' Market series, but Shelton works enough backstory into the plot that a casual reader should have no trouble following the current mystery. Oh, certainly, this book follows the typical cozy pattern: single female with a love interest/ hot cop deals with a murder by being nosy, even though the police try to keep her out of the investigation, and, after a climax scene wherein she does something dumb and gets into a very risky situation, she gets the murderer to confess and helps the police capture him/her. All cozies are like that now. But I'm a cozy junky, and I can firmly state that Shelton's cozies are a step above average. She gets the editing done right, for one thing. The mere fact that the woman can spell "Farmers' Market" correctly (making it plural possessive) is a huge sign. The POV works (it often doesn't in cozies). The pacing works. The backstory makes sense. Her protagonists are never idiotic. Bushel Full of Murder is no exception. Becca, the protagonist, is very realistic and likable. In this installment, Becca's flighty younger cousin has been accused of several crimes, and she's being followed by a cop from Arizona. But when the cousin ends up being right at the scene of a murder, things don't look good. Shelton fleshes out Becca, her cousin Peyton, her twin sister Allison, the murder victim, various other suspects, and the hot cop. There are no cardboard characters here, no hint of RL Stine's completely interchangeable characters. In fact, Shelton's characterization skills are on a par with those of many successful crime writers, rather than just those of other cozy writers. I wouldn't be surprised if someday Shelton tried breaking out of the cozy mold and writing a less patterned mystery or crime novel. So, should you read Bushel Full of Murder? Well, do you like cozies? This is a light, quick read with no blood or guts. The red herrings are just right, the pacing is perfect for a beach read, and the characters behave like real people. A serious mystery this is not. If you're looking for light, you cannot do better than Shelton. Give the series a try. (If you want to read the books in order, you'll need to begin with Farm Fresh Murder.)...more