*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of NETGALLEY arc The Garden Club Murder by Amy Patricia Meade – Book 2 of the Tish Tarragon series #Brainfluffbookreview #TheGardenClubMurderbookreview

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I requested this one as I hadn’t read anything by this author and recently I’ve read a number of cosy murder mysteries and thoroughly enjoyed them as a palette cleanser after reading something darker and heftier.

Literary caterer Letitia ‘Tish’ Tarragon is preparing her English Secret Garden-themed luncheon for Coleton Creek’s annual garden club awards, but when she is taken on a tour of some of the top contenders with the garden club’s president, Jim Ainsley, Tish is surprised at how seriously the residents take the awards – and how desperate they are to win. Wealthy, retired businessman Sloane Shackleford has won the coveted best garden category five years in a row, but he and his Bichon Frise, Biscuit, are universally despised. When Sloane’s bludgeoned body is discovered in his pristine garden, Tish soon learns that he was disliked for reasons that go beyond his green fingers. Have the hotly contested awards brought out a competitive and murderous streak in one of the residents?

This one started promisingly enough – Meade took us straight into the story and effectively introduced us to the main character. The setting was convincingly portrayed, I liked the supporting cast, the murder was committed with plenty of drama and a satisfying number of suspects with strong motives were introduced.

However I found Tish increasingly annoying – the woman was a veritable saint in all but name. Everyone immediately liked and trusted her, so tended to confide in her no matter how nosey and intrusive her questions became… the sheriff was suitably awestruck at her ability to winkle out telling details to the extent that he took her into his confidence… her gorgeous and implausibly nice lawyer boyfriend would have crawled to the Moon and back on his knees to please her… despite gadding off to sniff out said telling details, she still managed to whip up a delicious meal with her long-suffering staff without breaking a sweat. By the end, I was fed up to the back teeth with her.

Another detail that also jarred – Meade has evidently been told not to use the word said in speech tags, so we had all sorts of odd expressions. He deemed was the worst example, but there were plenty of other clunky phrases that marred the dialogue scenes. However, I probably could have overlooked these details if it wasn’t for the really odd way this story was wrapped up. I was very uncomfortable with the way the victim had taunted the perpetrator, so Meade ensured that no one could possibly feel any sympathy for him, and at the same time, neither was I entirely sure that the justice system would have played out in that way. And cosy mysteries aren’t supposed to leave those kinds of issues dangling in the wind. Though, given I am not a US citizen, there might be something going on here that I’m missing, therefore I haven’t taken off another point, which I otherwise would have done.

The ebook arc copy of The Garden Club Murder was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest opinion of the book.
7/10

12 responses »

  1. I think those speech tags would have bothered me too! Its one of those things you don’t think much about until a writer uses them over and over. Lovely review😁

    • Hm… difficult to say too much without venturing into Spoiler territory. The way the story wrapped up had me wondering if such an outcome could be so confidently predicted by the sherriff – and I’m a bit shocked if he is able to do so, to be honest…

  2. Hmmm. You know who this reminds me of? JB Fletcher of Murder, She Wrote. I’m trying to think what made Angela Lansbury’s character maintain her likability and credibility while Meade’s protagonist did not….well, JB was always humble. She had a caring nature. She rarely returned amorous advances from older gentlemen (like Leslie Nielsen! THAT was an episode 😉 )…hmm. Oh, and she never really flaunted her resources, and she was never afraid to admit she didn’t know something, like computers (WHY DID SHE GIVE UP HER TYPEWRITER!? sigh). Despite her many Mary Sue-esque features, JB Fletcher still felt and acted like a human being.

    You know, I’m feeling like there’s a post in this….

    • And JB does have her edges and gets herself in a pickle, which the protag in this doesn’t so much. And while her long-suffering staff are busy doing the catering, she wafts off to question potential suspects… in my experience, once you’re in the swing of serving food, it’s all hands to the pump and woe betide anyone slipping away. Yes… definitely a post in this, I think:)

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