Traci Simmons has been fired from another job and must decide if it’s time to give up her home and start fresh in another town. But, when her elderly neighbor dies mysteriously, she is pulled into leading a crusade to save the neighbor’s urban farm and find the killer. Through her new and unexpected relationship with these invisible people, Traci faces her own insecurities to learn what home really means.
Barbara Howard is an author of mystery stories featuring a female amateur sleuth, diverse characters, and a dash of romance.
Books include the trilogy Finding Home Mystery Series; Final Harvest, Charlotte’s Revenge, and Milo’s Journey. She is a first generation tech geek turned master gardener. She returned to her Midwestern hometown after an extensive career as a Department of Defense Project Manager at the Pentagon and spends most of her time treasure hunting, spoiling her fur-babies, growing veggies, and writing whodunits.
She has also published a collection of books on food-related topics, food safety, and heirloom recipe cookbooks under the pen name, Arlene Lee.
Memberships/Affiliations: Mystery Writers of America (MWA), Sisters in Crime (SinC), Great Lakes Fiction Writers (GLFW), Crime Writers of Color (CWoC), Gamma Xi Phi (GXP)
The first thing that caught my attention about Final Harvest was the cover – the model is so striking and I love the title color against the black and white photo. The characters you will meet on the pages of this book are no less captivating.
Traci, Rowena, Moe, Milo, and even officer Wells aren’t your typical cozy mystery characters, and I loved that! Through their backstories, the author weaves a plot that thoughtfully raises awareness of atypical cozy topics such as homelessness, foster care, anxiety, advocacy, and food insecurity – adding great dimension to an otherwise quick read. I regret not getting to spend more time with Rowena before her untimely demise – she intrigued me more than any of the other characters, though Traci & Milo are close behind. The latter two had layers that touched my heart, and I’m glad we get to continue their journeys in the other Finding Home books.
Bottom Line: Final Harvest by Barbara Howard is a multi-layered story, despite its shorter page count, with diverse characters and thoughtful insights into issues not usually seen in the cozy mystery genre. I very much enjoyed meeting Traci, Rowena (however briefly), Moe, and Milo, and I like the hint of romance thanks to Officer Wells. The only weakness in Final Harvest is some pacing issues (jumps around a bit & takes some effort to stay oriented) and a bit of trouble deciding what genre it wants to be. If you are looking for a book that’s somewhat off the beaten path, grab a copy of Final Harvest today – oh, and you’ll definitely want to start book 2 right away!
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book)
This is an interesting story of a woman who by accident becomes a sloth and is able to solve a local murder. It is smart and witty. A fast read that you cannot put down. I am hungry for more and have already preordered the next book
I truly enjoyed reading Final Harvest. Traci starts off as an extremely anxious woman, who grew up in the system, and struggles navigating life, until she is out into a situation, where she has to choose between running away, or facing trouble head first. I whole heartedly recommend this book to all age ranges. I can't wait to see what happens in book 2.
Tracinda Simmons, better known as Traci, is a twenty-five year old young woman who lives alone. Growing up, she lived an unstable life. She had been passed from foster to foster home until she aged out of the system. Living alone as an adult has not been stable either as evidenced by living a in a fixer upper home that she can’t afford to fix up to city code, obtaining dead-end jobs through a temp-service and trying to cope day to day with anxiety issues. With the assistance from the temp-service she works for, a job that she normally would not have entertained, became available to her at at time when she had no choice but to accept. She became a bike courier. Overtime, she learned to appreciate the job and became a valued employee. In her neighborhood, she meets Rowena Garrett and her workers in a huge field where they are working. While Rowena seems to be a little rough around the edges, she provides hospitality by feeding and providing shelter to the workers who otherwise, would have no place to go. After the mysterious death of Rowena Garrett, Traci focuses on what really happened to Rowena. This comes about after her conversation with Milo, a young boy who depended on Rowena before her untimely death. He expresses to Traci that Rowena may have been murdered. The officer investigating the crime, Officer Wells, listens to Traci’s theory, but warned her to stay out of the way of police business. However, her also takes a liking to Traci. The curiosity behind Rowena’s death overwhelms Traci. Will she leave well enough alone or will she find herself in a web that she is unable to untangle?
This book was a great read and it earned an overall rating of eight. I felt this book deserved a rating of eight because I liked the advocacy of the main character, Traci. I liked how she found for others in her community. She saw the importance in something much bigger than herself regarding her community. I loved how the author incorporated anxiety issues with the main character in this story and showed that she was able to utilize coping strategies during her time of need. This proves the stigma of mental illness to be false. Individuals with anxiety issues can live independently with proper supports and resources. I particularly loved how the character came into her own and was able to make positive decisions for her life.
Final Harvest is the first book in a new series. The mystery is subtle as the story is more focused on Traci and her growth as a character. She has grown up in foster care and is having a hard time of it being an adult. She is a wonderfully vulnerable charter that immediately resonates with the reader. It is obvious that she has great potential and inner strength, but she doesn’t know it yet.
After losing yet another job, she finds herself taking the long way home and in her travels comes across a neighborhood she hadn’t quite explored yet. She finds Rowena Garrett’s urban farm and a group of misfit people who don’t seem to really fit in anywhere but belong together somehow. When Rowena turns up dead and one of her young workers is sure it is murder, Traci finds herself digging into Rowena’s past to find a way to keep developers from taking the farm from the group.
Though a bit tetchy at first glance several of the secondary characters bring warmth and color to the story. There is Moe, formerly of Moe’s Tavern, who has been knocked down by life but is resolved to find his way again, and there is Milo a young man who knows his way through back alleys and finds in Traci a kindred spirit. Then there is Officer Wells. He doesn’t talk much about Rowena’s case, except to warn Traci to be careful. He has set himself to watching over her and her new friends. While he does produce warm and fuzzies for her, she realizes she is a bit of a hot mess and doesn’t pursue his subtle encouragement. I am looking forward to seeing that develop in further books.
This would be a five-star read for me, the bones of the story are solid and the characters are wonderful. Still, I think the mystery end of things needed a bit of filling in it felt a bit rushed at the end. I am very much looking forward to the next two books, as the characters introduced in this story, will be terrific with their own storylines.
I'm not a big mystery reader, but it's refreshing to read about a black female amateur sleuth. Traci's life doesn't start off to a rosy start but through the story you see her grow and actually care about the problems of others. The relationship between her and Officer Wells is cute and different from some of the mysteries I have read. She is not in the business to insult him or make him feel less but she definitely doesn't back down easily when he tries to convince her to.
My favorite character out of the story is Milo. I expected a teen boy wanting to run off at the mouth, but like Traci, he wanted to be accepted and have a place to call home with people to love him.
The characters in the story all have struggles and are not your typical cookie cutter people. They trying to live and make it and help others do the same.
The Final Harvest is a laid-back read and can't wait for the next book from this author.
Disclaimer: I ran into this author, Barbara Howard, in the YouTube writing and author community. I taint this review with friendship.
I really enjoyed the character of Traci and the mystery that she stumbled upon. The romance build-up was slight, but I expect more on that in the coming books.
Biggest drawback: Pacing. The story jumps from one moment to another and leaves some gaps that disengaged me, as a reader, a bit. I found this book easy to put down between chapters.
If you enjoy a quick read with big character development, do recommend it. The world-building is less complete but done well enough the story can flow and be unhindered. If you're in this review section wondering if this Indie author releases a clean book — she does.
Traci was an interesting, unique main character and I liked seeing things from her perspective. I enjoyed the writing style and the words flowed very smoothly. The main problem I had was with the pacing of the story. Some things seemed to happen too quick or it seemed like details were left out, especially during the climax. Overall, I recommend this book and I'm looking forward to the second one!
Kept This Book In Hand!!! I really enjoyed this book. The mysterious nature of this story held my attention. I particularly loved the personality and characteristic traits in the main character, Traci’s development. If you are into mysteries, give this one a try. I discovered that this book has two more books in the series. I’m curious to find out what happens next. Go read this book!
I enjoyed this cozy Midwestern mystery great for an autumn read. I am looking forward to the next installment of the adventures of Tracy as she navigates her way into adulthood after a tumultuous past.
Final Harvest is a great suspenseful read that I am happy to recommend to all readers. The main character in the story is immediately likable, probably due to her nature of shutting down from others and her vulnerability throughout the story. I felt connected to her from the beginning, in part due to her self-sufficient ways of life. My favorite thing about the book is how the author took a young woman who is doing her best to stay uninvolved with the town happenings and just live her own life the best way she knows how.
While there is a thrilling sense to the story with the hope of solving a murder of one of the town’s most favorited people, there is also a sense of hope that Traci, the main character, will be able to find her place in the world, whether or not it’s in the town she’s growing to love. Her dedication of trying to do right by those around her and offering them the smallest glimpse of hope while she herself has little to nothing is admirable.
I loved the small-town setting for the story- specifically because it allows the reader to “feel at home,” while getting to know the characters. I would have liked to know more about the multiple mentions of ghost happenings, but am hoping that will be addressed in the next book in the series... that’s right.. there’s a sequel!
As a long-time lover of romance books as well, I really liked the inclusion of Officer Wells in the story. He is introduced as the police officer who is working on the murder/accidental death case, but quickly takes an interest in Traci, which I felt like gave her character an even more likable feeling. When a reader’s emotions get pulled into the story, it almost feels as if the character’s feelings are then projected onto the reader- or it does for me at least!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Final Harvest and am looking forward to the next installment in the series by Barbara Howard. Her writing ability is astounding, specifically her ability to communicate deep emotions through her characters.
Traci was someone who was sort of a loner and couldn’t keep a job. She lived in a house that needed a great deal of work. In compliance with the City Officials, Traci had a certain amount of time to have all of the repairs done.
After losing another temporary job, she was hired as a bike courier. She wasn’t thrilled but knew she really needed that job. On her way home, she met Rowena, who was a neighbor and also owned a farm. Traci took to her and some of those around the farm.
When Rowena dies, Traci wants to know what happened and determined to keep the farm functioning. This is when she meets Officer Randall Wells.
This story was too slow throughout for me, and it did not hold my attention. This was definitely not the type of flow I was expecting. For this to be a mystery/suspense book, it did not have any high moments consisting of any thrills.
Overall, it was an okay read. By the way, this also ends in a cliffhanger.
I received a free copy of this book and am voluntarily leaving a review.