When Houston reporter Lucy Resnick cashes in her retirement to buy her grandmother’s farm in Buttercup, Texas, she’s looking forward to a simple life as a homesteader. But Lucy has barely finished putting up her first batch of Killer Dewberry Jam when an oil exploration truck rolls up to the farm and announces plans to replace her broccoli patch with an oil derrick. Two days later, Nettie Kocurek, the woman who ordered the drilling, turns up dead at the Founders’ Day Festival with a bratwurst skewer through her heart and one of Lucy’s jam jars beside her…and the sheriff fingers Lucy as the prime suspect.
Horrified, Lucy begins to talk to Nettie’s neighbors, but the more she gets to know the townspeople, the more she realizes she’s not the only one who had a beef with Nettie. Can she clear her name, or will her dream life turn into a nightmare?
Paperback, 253 pages
Published: July 28th 2015 by Thomas & Mercer
Four stars: A delightful cozy mystery set on a small farm in Texas, with a bit of murder and a dash of romance.
Lucy finishes bottling the last of her batch of Killer Dewberry Jam. Sighing contentedly, she surveys her small farm. After years of running the rat race as a reporter in Houston, Lucy cashed in her retirement fund and buy back her grandparent's farm. Nestled away in the small town of Buttercup, Texas, Lucy is busy learning to become a homesteader in order to make money off her farm. Lucy planted rows of vegetables to harvest and sell at the farmer's markets, where she also sells her Killer Dewberry Jam, candles and fresh flowers. So far, she has been able to scratch out a living, but all that changes when trucks show up at her farm prepared to drill for oil. It seems the woman Lucy bought the farm from didn't sell her the mineral rights. Now Lucy's little farm is going to be drilled and prospected for oil, but before that happens, the very same woman is murdered at the town's Founder's Day Festival, leaving Lucy as a prime suspect. Will Lucy be able to save her farm and clear her name?
What I Liked:
- I was pleasantly surprised by this delightful little cozy. Normally, I reach for a cozy set in a bakery or some time of cozy shop that sells food and treats. This book is a bit different from my normal cozy picks as it is centered around a small farm. I was immediately drawn in by the cute farm with its rows of vegetables, brambles of wild dewberries and an orchard of peach trees, along with a cute, plump poodle and a curious cow. This was a delightful setting, and I found myself completely loving the small farm life.
- For those of you, like me, who love a cozy centered around food, no worries with this one. Killer Jam is packed full of scrumptious food, from fresh jam, berry pies, and even freshly made cottage cheese. My mouth was watering at all the yummy and homey food treats. For all of you who love the recipes, this one doesn't disappoint either. There are some rather fun and unique recipes at the end, such as fresh cottage cheese, Killer Dewberry Jam, Strawberry Custard Pie, Maple Twists and even a recipe for beeswax jar candles. I loved the food and the recipes.
- The heart of the story centers around Lucy's small farm tucked away in the bucolic town of Buttercup, Texas. The farm was owned by her late grandparents, and Lucy has many fond memories of her time there as a child. Now Lucy is trying her best to become a small farmer. I enjoyed reading all about life on a small farm from milking the cow, to growing a garden and canning jam.
- The murder mystery is interesting. After one of the town's most renowned citizens is murdered, there are many culprits as this woman had a tendency to stir up trouble in order to get her own way. She had lots of enemies, leaving plenty of people with motives for murder. Of course, there is a large list of suspects and many red herrings until the killer is revealed. Even though the killer unmasking wasn't a big shock, it was still enjoyable to unravel the mystery.
- There is a small romance. I liked that it was sweet and simple without any complications such as love triangles or past baggage, and all that. It is moving along nicely settling into a friendship with lots of chemistry, I am eager to see how it will develop.
- I liked that at the end, Lucy ends up making a new and surprising friend. I was most pleased with this development.
- Surprisingly, the story even had a small snippet of paranormal with what seemed like a ghostly presence at the farm, and also with a young girl who seemed to have premonitions. I am hoping for more on both of these story lines in future books.
- The ending draws all the main story threads to a close, for the most part, and leaving the reader content and satisfied, though craving more.
And The Not So Much:
- It seems with a good portion of cozy mysteries, you are presented with a bumbling, ordinary woman who for whatever reason, in this case to clear her own name, steps in to help solve a crime. More times than not, the local law enforcement is inept, which is the cast with the sheriff in Buttercup. I was disgusted by the total lack of professionalism and intelligence in the sheriff. It was unbelievable. Yet that is often the case with cozies, you have to suspend rational belief and just go with it.
- There was a bit too much repetition when it came to Lucy mulling over the list of suspects and their motives. I felt like I was reading the same thing over and over as Lucy went about her chores thinking on who and why. A bit too much repetition.
- Lucy's close friend, Quinn, is being harassed and threatened physically by her ex husband. This was a rather dark story line, and I wasn't sure as to why it was included. Not a big issue, but it certainly took the story in a darker direction than the murder mystery.
Killer Jam was a delightful and cozy little read, perfect for a sunny summer afternoon. If you enjoy cozies, check out this fun mystery set on a small farm in a little town. It is filled with all the things that you love in a good cozy: friendly characters, small town, charming setting, delicious food and great recipes at the end. This is the first in a new series, so it is a perfect book to get your hands on now as it is just getting started. I had a nice time with this read, and I am eagerly looking forward to the next installment.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.