Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Review: Killed on Blueberry Hill by Sharon Farrow

Killed on Blueberry Hill (A Berry Basket Mystery, Book #3)
by Sharon Farrow
Release Date: October 30th 2018
2018 Kensington
ARC Paperback Edition
ISBN: 978-1496704900
Genre: Fiction / Cozy Mystery
Source: Review copy from author

5 / 5 Stars

The Blueberry Blow Out festival has begun and it's time for Marlee Jacob, owner of The Berry Basket, to shine. Unfortunately it's also bringing out the worst in her fiance Ryan Zeller. Ryan's rivalry with Porter Gale, owner of Blueberry Hill Farm, spills over into a very public and very ugly fight. And after they compete in the pie-eating contest and a raucous tug of war, their orchard blood feud takes a deadly turn . . .

The death of the king of Blueberry Hill is a shock but not too surprising--he was a diabetic whose last pig out meal was deliciously fatal. But when authorities discover that someone tampered with Porter's insulin, a tragic accident is looking like murder--and Ryan is the key ingredient. Now Marlee's investigation to clear his name is taking her deep into the Gale family secrets, and she's being shadowed every step of the way by a killer whose sweet revenge is just beginning . . .
Includes Berry Recipes!

My Thoughts
Killed on Blueberry Hill is the third installment in the A Berry Basket Mystery series and so far, is my favourite.  In this one, Marlee and the gang are dealing with another festival, this one being the Blueberry Blow Out, and it seemed to be affecting her fiance Ryan in a very negative way.  I wasn't overly fond of him before, but right from the beginning he drove me nuts with his commanding ways and his superior attitude.  It didn't help matters that the festival featured blueberry competitions, and Ryan's family and their arch-nemesis, Porter Gale, were at the center of everything.  For that matter, the first scene in the book was a pie-eating contest in which Marlee was roped and the pressure was on for her to win.  Having seen a few pie-eating contests myself, they are quite comical, and I enjoyed the author's descriptions of the scene.  It definitely set up this book for quite a ride, and I enjoyed it tremendously.

Generally, I read cozy mysteries as a break between heavier fantasy tomes and the historical novels of which I am so fond.  They tend to be lighter in tone and often can be quite hilarious, something desperately needed.  While the novel definitely dealt with some serious undertones, there was a lighter touch which made it easy to read and the characters are so likeable that you just can't help but laugh at their antics.  I love Marlee and how she was able to see right through what people were saying.  Yes, she could be a bit naive, certainly when it came to Ryan, but he was quite manipulative and deceptive, anyone would have missed the signs too.  I liked how she listened to her emotions and her little inner voice saying something was seriously wrong and didn't rush headlong into stupid things and situations.  She also didn't condescend those professionals looking into the murder and didn't go out of her way to search for clues.  The only reason she was trying to help was because the situation got personal, but she didn't go up to people and ask them all sorts of weird questions with that person answering them as if that was perfectly normal.  Things just seemed to happen naturally which kept the flow of the book moving nicely and kept Marlee moving and associating with some characters from previous books that I wanted her to meet.  So glad she did so I could find out what was happening with them. And if you love parrots, well, there's one in here too; Minnie is a hoot.

The events moved along quite quickly, with quite a few twists and turns, and I have to admit I didn't quite figure out everything in the end which kind of surprised me, as I thought I knew who the murderer was, but I was only partly right.  I love that I got surprised, and looking back, I realized the clues were there but I missed them.  Awesome when that happens.  I actually read the book in one sitting as I couldn't put it down, staying up way too late.  There were so many interesting themes running through this book that it was quite fascinating: relationships, theft, drug use, addiction, ambition, and secrets. Even when the murderer was discovered, there was so much more to the story.  What I really liked though, is how everything was not quite wrapped up as nicely as most books, where we might have to wait until the next book to really see how things ended and I am okay with that. In the real world, that's how it works too.

Killed on Blueberry Hill was a really interesting novel and I think anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries will love this book.  Even though it's the third book of the series, you could read it as a stand-alone as the author does a great job filling in some background information without giving away too much from previous books.  I have read the previous books and didn't find it repetitive at all.  It also helps if you love blueberries as there are so many foods mentioned with berries in them, you will probably be salivating.  Luckily, the book comes with some blueberry recipes for you to try.  Enjoy!!