One of my most recent cozy mystery reads was Blackberry Burial, the second installment in the Berry Basket Mystery series by Sharon Farrow, which was released earlier this month.
Note: This book can be read as a standalone (I had not read the first book in the series).
Between a booming art scene and elaborate Independence Day festivities, July in lakeshore Oriole Point, Michigan, is always a blast. Especially when an explosive murder case crashes the fun . . .
As owner of The Berry Basket, Marlee Jacob has learned a thing or two about surviving the summer tourist season in Oriole Point. So she gladly agrees to help run the annual road rally in honor of the local Blackberry Art School’s centenary celebration. While alumni arrive from around the country, Marlee hopes the expansive Sanderling farm will make an appropriate starting point for the race—despite rumors that the land is cursed . . .
But when Marlee surveys the property, she stumbles upon a long-dead body hidden in the bramble. It’s a horrifying mystery to everyone except her baker, who’s convinced the skeletal remains belong to a former student who had gone missing twenty years earlier. As the Fourth of July activities heat up, Marlee must rush to catch an elusive murderer—before the next ‘blackberry victim’ is ripe for the picking!
Marlee cares about the people who work for her; she shows a great deal of compassion toward Theo, her baker, who faces challenges in interaction with others in social situations. His limitations make him susceptible to ridicule and suspicion. I appreciated the way the author presented Theo’s vulnerabilities and how Marlee stood by him, determined to help the police solve the case. For the most part, the plot moved along at a good pace, with a few red herrings, and a resolution that pulled things together nicely.
Marlee loves berries and she clearly knows everything about them. For this non-berry crazy reader, I think some of the descriptions went into a bit more detail than necessary. I was more intrigued by the mystery. I especially enjoyed the antics of Marlee’s remarkable parrot, who was quick to pick up new vocabulary and spout phrases and songs at opportune (and inopportune) moments.
Lovers of cozy mysteries, and culinary cozies in particular, are likely to enjoy this light read.
FTC disclosure: I received an advanced review copy of this book from the publisher. This has not affected the content of my review.