Publication Date: December 6, 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: Paperback, 292pp
(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound
Paige Shelton on the WEB: website, blog, facebook
Books in the Series: Farm Fresh Murder (2010), Fruit of all Evil (2011), Crops and Robbers (2011)
CoverArt: Click on the picture for a larger, clearer image of the covers in this series.
Excerpt from Crops and Robbers (Amazon Look Inside Feature)
Thanks to her delicious farm-made jams and preserves, Becca Robins's business has been booming. But when an unhappy customer turns up dead in Becca's kitchen, she's afraid it will really sour her reputation...
Bailey's Farmers' Market is all abuzz with the impending visit of the Central South Carolina Restaurant Association. Becca is pleased about the visit, but with her jams and preserves already flying off her market table it's her parents' unexpected visit she is truly excited about. With her family watching from the sidelines, Becca happily hands out samples.
But when Joan Ashworth, the president of the association, vetoes the strawberry preserves, Becca finds herself reeling from the snub. After pulling herself together, Becca heads home, only to find Joan's body in her kitchen and her mother with blood on her hands. Now, Becca has to figure out what really happened to Joan and get her Mom out of a terrible jam...
Crops and Robbers is the third book in the Farmers' Market Mystery series by Paige Shelton, who just happens to be one of my favorite cozy writers. This is a series that will bring out the foodie in all of us. It mixes life on the farm with a first class mystery and comes away with a winning combination. Shelton has a way with description that is unparalleled in the cozy sub-genre. Readers can smell the lavender, feel the soil, see the strawberry vines. A very well written series!
Though Crops and Robbers is the third book in the series, it can easily be read as a stand alone. But I recommend readers eventually go back and catch the first two, just because they are so good. I will have to say this one is my favorite of the series so far, for a lot of reasons. Readers who follow the series, will enjoy the return to Monson, South Carolina because it feels like meeting old friends again. We've settled in a bit in this series, we know the characters, we feel connected to Becca and her sister Allison and it has that nice small town feel where everybody knows your name. (homage to Cheers!)
I liked the fact that Shelton chose to introduce her readers to Becca's parents. I thought that was a great touch. In the first two books in the series, Becca has solved mysteries that involved friends and townspeople, but now her parents have come for a visit and her mother becomes the prime suspect in a murder. How's that for hitting close to home? I loved the way Shelton portrayed the marriage between Becca's parents. It was very loving and positive and readers get to see just how Becca became who she is through their eyes.
The mystery aspect of the novel was also very well written and entertaining. Becca has been selling her homemade jams and preserves at the local Farmer's Market for some time, but now the restaurant association is planning on using and endorsing some of the products found there. It would a huge opportunity for Becca and she's excited. But when the president of the association doesn't like Becca's strawberry preserves and she is stunned. But she definitely doesn't expect to find said president dead in her barn and her mom covered in blood, later that evening. I thought the premise was believable and the motives were authentic, but they didn't really show up until well into the book. But that gave Shelton time to focus on other aspects of the story.
The love triangle that is starting to come up between Becca, Ian her, boyfriend and her other friend Sam was very enjoyable to read about. I'm glad that Shelton is taking that direction with this part of the story. I think it adds a lot of excitement and I'm looking forward to where she goes with this. I'm on team Sam, I can't help it, LOL! It's rare to find a love triangle in any mystery, let alone a cozy, so I thought that was a very good idea for this one.
As usual when a cozy has a section in the back providing ideas or recipes. I try out at least one just to see how it turns out while reading the book. I've been doing that for the last little while and I really enjoy it. So, for this book, I chose to make, "Allison's Jailbreak Cookies" and I've got to tell ya, "You Have To Try This..." They were really good and the kids loved them over the holidays. I love that little extra section at the back of most cozies!
I recommend this one to cozy fans and readers who enjoy reading about food. The descriptions are out of this world and Paige Shelton has created a series that really resonates with a lot of readers. These characters become your friends as you read and that's the claim of a good writer. The mystery was interesting and not easy to figure out.... You've got to read this one... it's tooo good!
Crops and Robbers is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
Paige Shelton spent lots of years in advertising but now writes novels full time. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband and son. When she's up early enough, one of her favorite things to watch is the sun rise over the Wasatch Mountains.
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