by Kathleen Costa
& Wendy Tyson
This week we have a review of the latest Greenhouse Mystery by Wendy Tyson, along with a fun gardening guest post by Wendy. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book, and links to purchase it.
Sowing Malice: A Greenhouse Mystery By Wendy Tyson
You Don’t Need a Green Thumb!
Megan Sawyer started out as a big city lawyer until circumstances made it necessary for her to return home to Winsome, Pennsylvania, to help her octogenarian grandmother and manage, even improve, the family’s organic farm, Washington Acres, and Washington Acre’s Larder & Café, the farm-to-table cafe in town. Together, along with farm manager Clay Hand, they work tirelessly corralling goats, growing premium ingredients, sharing their expertise, and with Clay’s sister Clover, serving love and friendship to a plethora of residents. They bought the next-door property, Marshall house, expanding into an inn and an agricultural learning center with classes and workshops. It was all suppose to be a peaceful and idyllic lifestyle change, but with every “sigh” of content there’s a “moan” of challenge, be it plumping, farming, or…murdering. But, with all that, Megan has her hunky Scottish veterinarian Dr. Daniel “Denver” Finn, and when trouble grows, there’s Clover’s boyfriend, the local deputy Bobby King, for insights and rescuing. All this makes for the marvelously entertaining Greenhouse Mystery series!
Sowing Malice earns 5/5 Café Treats…Engaging Entertainment!
The Von Tresslers were not normal members of the small Pennsylvanian community. With their wealth and attitude, they essentially kept themselves separated from the townspeople shunning invitations to join in, participate, or patronize local businesses along with poaching all the contractors in the area to build their mansion on the hill no matter to what projects they had already committed. Even with the sudden death of patriarch David von Tressler, his memorial would be attended only by those from their circle of friends and family, not many from town. Megan had popped into Merry’s garden shop for some potting soil, but was sad to witness the uncontrolled emotional outburst from Claire…Claire von Tressler. Megan and others know little about the von Tressler family dynamic, but when one goes missing, then another, and another is found dead on the farm’s property…all Megan wanted is to have a successful farmers’ market, Fourth of July events, and time with friends and family.
Bloomin’ Great! Wendy Tyson’s sixth Greenhouse Mystery book has been added to an already delightful and favorite series. The mystery, riddled with disappearances and a dead body, was twisty with many surprises and characters to weed through. Family dynamics. Sibling connections. Inheritance claims. Secrets. Selfishness. Wendy’s writing style is one to keep readers engaged and entertained. In this series, she uses a third-person narrative, not my favorite, but done very well. Her expressive description creates a small town, a farm, and delightful characters along with adding emotion and suspense to the drama. The dialogue does well to illustrate tone from everyday busy to threatening and personalities from caring to aloof, friendly to suspicious, and quirky to manipulative. In my experience, although the mystery needs to be well developed, it’s the characters that need to be realistic in their manner and their reaction; Wendy does well with this, too. I enjoy Megan’s “courage” to broaden the family farm experience and the café, and expand Washington Acres, as well as, navigate a romantic relationship with her post-widow status. But, her amateur investigation does not circumvent official channels, her informal interrogations are smooth, and her critical thinking narrows the suspect list well. Absolutely loved it…page 1 to the “Wow!” end!
No bonus included which is a disappointment with a marvelous menu at the café and such expertise on gardening, fruits and veggies, and crafting among her characters. In several of the other books she included a recipe and gardening tip, so don’t forget to check them out, too.
A Muddied Murder (2016)
Bitter Harvest (2017)
Seeds of Revenge (2018) KRL Review HERE
Rooted in Deceit (2018) KRL Review HERE
Ripe for Vengeance (2019) KRL Review HERE
Sowing Malice (2020)
Be a Big Wendy Tyson Fan!
Along with penning the now six-book Greenhouse Mystery series, Wendy also writes the four-book Allison Campbell Mystery series that I would describe as a “cozy with an edge.” The series begins with Killer Image, first published in 2013, introducing image consultant Allison Campbell whose job entails helping to reinvent people’s images in the wake of scandals, mayhem, and of course, murder.
By Wendy Tyson
My family and I moved to Vermont in 2017 with visions of lush vegetable and pollinator gardens set against the backdrop of the beautiful Vermont countryside. Back in the Philadelphia suburbs, where summer heat comes early and sun is plentiful, we were able to feed ourselves and half our neighborhood from our organic garden set on a third of an acre in a sidewalk neighborhood. There, we grew four varieties of tomatoes, three types of potatoes, garlic, onions, kale, Swiss Chard, carrots, radishes, eggplant…you get the idea. Our basil was the size of a bush, and even raspberries, cherries, and blueberries grew well. Our location in a busy burb ten miles from the city meant few or no deer, and our biggest problems were the squirrels who would steal our corn and tomatoes (and taunt us by leaving them half-eaten on the roof of our car).
As experience has taught us, here, in the verdant mountains of Vermont, we grow something else really well: rocks.
Two years ago we bought a house thinking it would be a great location to continue our quest to grow most of our own food. We knew the growing season would be shorter, and we were unlikely to have the yield we got in Pennsylvania. But the house sits on eleven acres, backs up to the Green Mountain National Forest, and includes a three-acre field. The field, we thought, would be a perfect garden spot.
That first summer, we spent a week digging a plot for a humble garden. My then-fifteen-year-old twins joined us as we pulled rock after rock from the soil. Every once in a while, we’d hit a boulder that my husband would patiently (okay, not so patiently) dig up or break up. Once we had the semblance of a bed, we nourished the soil and planted tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, herbs, and peppers. We had no deer fence, so we concentrated on produce deer don’t like.
That summer, we didn’t see a single deer. Rather, turkeys decided our garden would be a terrific hotel. Each morning we’d awaken to flattened plants and turkey feathers. The birds weren’t our only issue. Our timing was off (we planted too late), our soil was too acidic (pine needles from the forest) and too wet, and we hadn’t properly taken into account Vermont’s cool evenings. Our labor earned us one potato per plant and enough tomatoes for a single pasta dinner. Our poor basil, denied warmth and sun, looked like the herb version of spindly Ichabod Crane.
We weren’t in Pennsylvania anymore.
Despite the fact that I write a mystery series about a lawyer-turned-organic farmer, my husband Ben is the real green thumb in the family. He grew up next to his grandparents, Ben and Sophie, who were homesteaders before off-grid living was in. Ben Senior had left corporate life to build a self-sufficient farm in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, and his wife was a master at making something out of very little. Everything was reused or repurposed, and I don’t recall seeing plastic in their home except for a single, rarely used roll of Saran Wrap. My husband grew up on free range chicken (the birds slept in the trees and kept the bugs at bay), home-grown and home-canned vegetables, freshly caught local fish, and fruit pies from the wild berries that grew along the mountainside. Other than raising animals, we had a vision of a similar life in Vermont.
But the rocks. And the soil. And the cold. And the wet.
Ben and I took a lesson from his grandparents’ experiences. They had moved from New Jersey (a farming hot spot known for delicious tomatoes, peaches, and corn) to the less friendly climate of the Poconos. They adjusted, growing the plants that would thrive in their environment. We have done the same.
This year, we added lime and organic fertilizer to the soil. We researched plants that do well in our northern climate, choosing local seeds when possible, and we started many of the seedlings indoors during the spring. We dug a second, larger garden (more rocks!) and built deer fencing around it. Next year, we’ll add high tunnels and perhaps a heated greenhouse.
There are benefits to our new home’s climate. While the growing season is shorter, sensitive plants like spinach and kale don’t bolt as quickly. Now that we found tomato varieties that grow well in Vermont, and we’ve created a sunny space for them to thrive, we harvest baskets each week. And the potatoes this year are lovely. They just needed some soil intervention and a little more TLC. Pollinators abound. There’s nothing quite like watching the butterflies and bumble bees hovering around the flower beds and herb garden. Each square foot of soil is alive—an ecosystem of its own.
As for the rocks? They’ll always be with us, but on a bright note, I see a fire pit and a stone pizza oven in our future.
Check out other Henery Press mysteries on their website.
To enter to win a copy of Sowing Malice, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “malice,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 5, 2020. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like. BE AWARE DUE TO THE CURRENT PANDEMIC BOOKS WILL TAKE LONGER TO GET TO WINNERS.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode went up last week!
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