Book Review

Flowers and Foul Play

Fiona Knox lost her fiancé and her flower shop—but when she flies to Scotland to inherit her godfather’s cottage and possibly magical walled garden, she may lose her life as well when she’s swept into a murder investigation.

Florist Fiona Knox’s life isn’t smelling so sweet these days. Her fiancé left her for their cake decorator. Then, her flower shop wilted after a chain florist opened next door. So when her godfather, Ian MacCallister, leaves her a cottage in the Scottish Highlands, Fiona jumps on the next plane to Edinburgh. Ian, after all, is the one who taught her to love flowers. But when Ian’s elderly caretaker Hamish MacGregor shows her to the cottage upon her arrival, she finds the once resplendent grounds of Duncreigan in a dreadful shambles—with a dead body in the garden.

Minutes into her arrival, Fiona is already being questioned by the handsome Chief Inspector Neil Craig and getting her passport seized. But it’s Craig’s fixation on Uncle Ian’s loyal caretaker, Hamish, as a prime suspect, that really makes her worried. As Fiona strolls the town, she quickly realizes there are a whole bouquet of suspects much more likely to have killed Alastair Croft, the dead lawyer who seems to have had more enemies than friends.

Now it’s up to Fiona to clear Hamish’s name before it’s too late in Flowers and Foul Play, national bestselling author Amanda Flower’s enchanting first Magic Garden mystery.

Flowers and Foul Play was my first foray into the cozy mystery genre and I honestly didn’t know what to expect. If you’re like me and completely new to the genre, scroll down below for some  background information on the Cozy Mystery Genre. If you want to get straight to my review, keep calm and continue reading.

Overall, Flowers and Foul Play is a charming mixture of magic and mystery. Author Amanda Flower does quite a bit of set-up as far as introducing our main character Fiona, her backstory, her relationship to Ian MacCallister (her godfather who leaves her his cottage and magical garden), the small village in which the story is set, the village cast of characters, and laying the groundwork for a young and budding romance for Fiona. That is a lot of take on while also creating an engaging mystery to be solved, but Amanda Flower managed to pull it off pretty seamlessly.

Fiona is a likeable main character. We are introduced to her at a pretty horrific moment of her life – things have gone horribly wrong for her in both her personal and professional lives. I am interested to see her grow and flourish in this new chapter of her life as I am sure she will settle into the small Scottish village life.

I am eager to get to know some of the secondary characters better, particularly Presha and Raj. I am hopeful that they will have larger roles to play in future books of this series.

Overall, the story moved at a nice pace, the mystery kept my attention from beginning to end, and there were plenty of motives and suspects. My only complaint is the amount of build-up and backstory, but it seemed to be necessary for the creation of this new series. While I am not sure if I am a perfect fan for the cozy mystery genre, I am intrigued to follow along with Fiona’s adventures in Scotland and will most likely pick up the next book in the series.

Cozy Mystery fans, fans of Death in Paradise, or fans of Nancy Drew will enjoy this new series!

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this book. (All opinions are my own)

Cozy Mystery Genre:

Cozies very rarely focus on sex, profanity or violence. The murders take place off stage, and are often relatively bloodless (e.g. poisoning), while sexual activity (if any) between characters is only ever gently implied and never directly addressed.

The cozy mystery usually takes place in a small town or village. The small size of the setting makes it believable that all the suspects know each other. The amateur sleuth is usually a very likeable person who is able to get the community members to talk freely about each other. There is usually at least one very knowledgeable, nosy, yet reliable character in the book who is able to fill in all of the blanks, thus enabling the amateur sleuth to solve the case. From Goodreads

Cozies are fun to read. There’s a formula to the cozies that work very well drawing readers back again and again. The amateurs in such stories are nearly always well educated, intuitive women. Books, especially in series form usually have the story line relate to the detective’s job or hobby. Murderers in cozy mysteries are generally intelligent, rational, articulate people, and murders are pretty much bloodless and neat. Violence and sex are low-key and supporting background characters bring comic relief to the story. Some cozy series are set during holidays such as Valentine Day or Christmas making them more intimate to the reader.

The Detection Club, founded in 1930 and including such members as Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, created the Rules of Fair Play for those writing this type of mystery. Writers belonging to this club had to create proper mystery stories following those rules and also had to swear an oath written by Ms. Sayers herself.

Do you promise that your detectives shall well and truly detect the crimes presented to them using those wits which it may please you to bestow upon them and not placing reliance on nor making use of Divine Revelation, Feminine Intuition, Mumbo Jumbo, Jiggery-Pokery, Coincidence, or Act of God?

Today, authors no longer have to follow ‘rules’ and now set their own formula for success with their sleuthing women and men, including professional detectives and private investigators. Today’s cozy mysteries are popular because readers feel connected to the characters who seem like someone they would want to have as a friend. The situations are never overly done and all is usually neatly tied up by book’s end. From HuffPost

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Title: Flowers and Foul Play

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (May 8, 2018)

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Cozy Mystery, Amateur Sleuth

Read… in an airport while… dreaming of running off to Scotland.

Purchase your copy here.

Amanda FlowerAuthor: Amanda Flower

Amanda Flower, an Agatha Award-winning mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Her debut mystery, Maid of Murder, was an Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Novel. Amanda is an adult services librarian for a public library near Cleveland. She also writes mysteries as USA Today bestselling author Isabella Alan.

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