A note about The Cuddlywumps Chronicles

This blog is written and maintained by Miss Cuddlywumps, a fluffy-tailed calico cat who is both classically educated and familiar with mysteries. She receives creative input from the Real Cats and clerical assistance from She of Little Talent (old SoLT, a.k.a. Roby Sweet). Comments or complaints should be addressed to Miss C rather than to old SoLt (Ms. Sweet). Ms. Sweet accepts no responsibility for Miss C's opinions.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Book Review: From Garden to Grave

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On this Mysterious Monday, we review the first book in the Leafy Hollow series by Rickie Blair: it’s got murder (naturally), secrets, gardening, and a cat—so, everything you need, basically.

The story

Verity Hawkes is an unemployed bookkeeper who, at just twenty-something, is a young widow and has not left her Vancouver apartment building in two years. She spends her days alone and reads a lot of self-help books—though we’re not sure they’re doing her much good, because, you know, she’s still shut up in the apartment.

Well, Verity’s world gets a sudden jolt when she gets a call telling her that her aunt Adeline, who is—um, let’s call her “interesting”—presumed dead. Verity needs to go all the way to Leafy Hollow to deal with things. Maybe it will do her good to get out, and it would be nice to see Leafy Hollow again, and surely Aunt Adeline isn’t really dead… So off Verity goes, but what she finds is nothing like what she expected.

First, the idyllic cottage she remembers from her childhood is practically a ruin. Second, the clients of Aunt Adeline’s landscaping business expect Verity to step in and take over horticultural duties. Well, Verity does need money, so she agrees to do her very first landscaping job—and quickly makes a mess of it. This leads to an argument with the exceptionally rude client, and when said rude client later falls off a ladder, gets caught in a coyote trap, and is finally killed in an “accident,” Verity becomes a suspect in the crime. It’s up to her and her new Leafy Hollow friends to prove her innocence and find out what really happened to Adeline, who seems to have been caught up in some sort of secret something... It's all very mysterious!

The cat

One of her new friends is a one-eyed cat she names Tom (at first; he gets a better name later). He is “a bedraggled silver gray tabby [whose] tattered ears stuck out at odd angles,” so he sort of fits in with the falling-apart cottage. Tom at first shows up only to eat, but he later becomes more permanent. We hope to see more of him in future volumes, as we think he will make a nice companion for Verity.

Our verdict

We enjoyed this book very much. It’s a nice start to the series, with a perfect setup for future developments (just what did happen to Adeline?). We liked Verity’s spunk, her willingness to do whatever needs to be done—even if she doesn’t know how. She’ll figure it out as she goes along. We look forward to seeing her continue to grow in this series. Leafy Hollow is filled with a pleasing cast of characters, each of whom adds a dash of spice to the book. And the plot moves along at a nice pace, with enough twists and turns to keep things interesting. We can’t say we were totally surprised by the killer’s identity, but getting a big shock at the end is not really the point of a cozy. Getting engrossed in a story and a setting filled with quirky characters is the point, and From Garden to Grave does that wonderfully.


Two paws up--a great read!

A note on the "Paws Up" system: Miss C gives either one or two paws up. One paw is for a good read; two paws is for a great read. She never gives three or four paws because that would require her to lie on her back...and Miss C does not do that!

The link below is an Amazon Associates link. If you purchase the book through this link, old SoLT and I could get some coin for our kibble account. Thank you!