by Wendy Tyson
Cozy mystery series frequently have themes–a tea shop, scrapbooking, dogs, etc. The best of these appeal to readers outside this narrow interest, perhaps even widening the reader’s horizons. The Greenhouse Mystery Series created by Wendy Tyson is a perfect example. Honestly, neither the title of the series or of the book I just read, Bitter Harvest, holds a particular attraction for me. I’ve done my fair share of mucking about in a large vegetable garden and have raised an assortment of farm animals. I am also a fan of organic vegetables. But, READ about them? In a mystery? Turns out the answer is a resounding double yes!
Bitter Harvest is a page turner as former Chicago lawyer Megan Sawyer returns to her roots in Winsome, Pennsylvania, to try to piece together a living from an organic farm, a café, and whatever else comes her way to make her farm a viable enterprise. The plot has multiple threads, but they all seem to center around Winsome’s first Oktoberfest. Don’t get too comfortable with the idea of small town friendliness, because a heated argument erupts at the café and Megan discovers evidence of a stalker looking down on her property–all in the first chapter. From there events move quickly as Megan’s grandmother discovers one of the town’s brewers is dead; no one is sure if it was an accident or murder. In Winsome, business and personal relationships swirl around like dust devils, never quite settling down.
The writing in Bitter Harvest is excellent. The setting varies from small town to farm and further afield as Megan tries to discover who is behind the crimes occurring in Winsome and what the motivation could possibly be. Megan is a war widow starting life again, but she still has to deal with a complicated past as she tries to understand why her mother left their family when she was eight years old. The characters are interesting, believable, and likable. The romantic attraction in the story is a handsome Scottish vet whose skills are invaluable in several crisis situations.
Wendy Tyson does a wonderful job of bringing the reader into Megan’s life. If you read the first book in the series, A Muddied Water, you get subtle reminders of events that occurred in that book. If you are jumping into the series with Bitter Harvest, you are quickly brought up to date without feeling like you just got a history lesson. I highly recommend this book and am looking forward to the next one in the series, Seeds of Revenge, with projected publication in fall of 2017.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Mystery, General Fiction (Adult)
Notes: part of a series, but works as a standalone
Publication: March 7, 2017–Henery Press
Megan called to Sadie and Gunther. Gunther, better trained every day, came immediately and sat before her, the obedient livestock guardian dog. Sadie looked at her, sniffed a flower, peed next to a bush, and then trotted her way toward the house, stopping twice to investigate something interesting. For Sadie, obedient livestock guardian dog was clearly not a career aspiration.
“Trolls.” She handed the phone back to Emily. “That’s all they are. Sad, lonely people with nothing better to do than leave mean reviews and comments online. The web allows strangers to bask in the safety of cowardly anonymity. Hurtful, Emily–but not meaningful.”