by Cynthia Chow
This week we have a review of the latest Flower Shop mystery by Kate Collins, Yews with Caution. We also a fun guest post by Kate about yews. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Yews with Caution, and a link to purchase it from Amazon, and an indie bookstore where a portion of the sale goes to help support KRL.
Yews with Caution: A Flower Shop Mystery By Kate Collins
Review by Cynthia Chow
Despite being the owner of Bloomers flower shop, Abby Knight has never before purchased outdoor plantings. That changes with her and her husband’s recent purchase of a house, and the need for landscaping is how Abby somehow finds herself lost in the adjacent shrubbery maze of DK’s Landscape Center. That unexpectedly traumatic experience of buying pesticide-free yews and viburnums is surpassed by a desperate call from Abby’s best friend, hospital x-ray technician Nikki Hiduke. An alcohol-infused night of rage-venting by Nikki and five co-workers led to the women planning out the murder of a cheating husband, and it appears that said philanderer has just gone missing. Although Marco Salvatore, her partner both in life and in their private investigation firm, advises that they wait until an actual accusation is made, Abby doesn’t hesitate to begin investigating the life and disappearance of Dick Kennison, the owner of DK’s.
Nikki doesn’t help herself first by not wanting to snitch on her work-friends, then by not telling the entire truth to Abby. It places an uncomfortable barrier between the two childhood friends, not to mention making Abby’s investigation of Nikki’s coworkers even more challenging. At least Abby has the always-reliable support of Bloomers’ employees, with her newest hire Rosa Marin proving to be a Colombian powerhouse of flirtation persuasion. Abby’s female relatives continue to be delightful distractions, although this time Abby’s “artistic” mother may have finally found her calling with natural beauty products. Jillian Osborne’s insistence that they be debuted at her birthday spa celebration is less welcome, but at least the planning is keeping Abby’s attention-needy younger cousin busy. When a sudden illness strikes Marco in a way similar to that of another DK customer, Abby will need all of her focus and support if she is to save those she loves the most.
Don’t let the cozy series name fool you; at its core, this is a novel of suspense. The timer starts ticking on multiple levels as an important client deadline approaches, Marco’s health declines, and the source for his treatment coincides with the solution to the murder. Anyone who has ever been frustrated with the lack of communication or availability of health professionals will more than sympathize with Abby’s desperation. Although it’s never in doubt that Marco is the love of her life, the female relationships are the core of this mystery. Abby has Nikki’s back despite moments of doubt and untruths, and the Bloomers’ ladies always remind Abby to appreciate her family while she can. The tension mounts to nearly unbearable levels by the end, and readers will be zipping through those final pages while also never wanting the story to end. This nineteenth in the Flower Shop Mystery series proves why these books deserve to be made into Hallmark Movies, as it provides ample amounts of humor, romance, and a stunning hold-your-breath finale.
WARNING! YEWS WITH CAUTION
by Kate Collins
HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH. Do not swallow berries. If ingested, call the nearest poison control center immediately.
This wasn’t what I wanted to read while selecting shrubs for my home, but it was exactly what I needed to plant the seed of an idea–pardon the pun–for my nineteenth Flower Shop Mystery, Yews With Caution.
I always look for an inspiration for my stories, usually finding them in subjects with which I have a personal connection. Last year, I was reading up on various shrubs for my home landscaping, and learned enough about yews to be intrigued. For instance, they’ve been cultivated for thousands of years, are among the oldest living trees, and some specimens still in use today are over 3,000 years old. They are also dioecious, meaning they have separate male and female plants. If there’s a male plant nearby, the female plant will produce red berries.
But this is what really caught my attention: all parts of the shrub (or tree), including the bark, the leaves, and the seeds, whether fresh or dried, are poisonous to people and pets if ingested, or get into an open wound, yet don’t bother deer or birds. And, as it so happened, I needed a plot for my story. So my two main characters, Abby and Marco, who had moved into their first home in the last book, Moss Hysteria, were ready to start their landscaping, too.
At that point I start to play the “what if” game. What if Abby and Marco planted a yew and one of them started to show symptoms of poisoning soon thereafter? What if someone else in their town came down with a mysterious ailment after planting a shrub that came from the same all-natural landscape center? Had they somehow ingested part of the plant, gotten it into their blood streams – or was something nefarious going on at that landscape center?
As with all my mysteries, Yews With Caution is a fast-paced nail-biter that will shock you with the opening chapter, stun you with its powerful, dynamic conclusion, and give you some good laughs along the way. I know you’ll enjoy this, the 19th book in the Flower Shop Mysteries.
To enter to win a copy of Yews With Caution, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “yews,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen July 1, 2017. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section.
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