A Berry Basket Mystery, Book #2
By Sharon Farrow
Author Website: sharonfarrowauthor(.)com
Between a booming art scene and elaborate Independence Day festivities, July in lakeshore Oriole Point, Michigan, is always a blast. Especially when an explosive murder case crashes the fun . . .
As owner of The Berry Basket, Marlee Jacob has learned a thing or two about surviving the summer tourist season in Oriole Point. So she gladly agrees to help run the annual road rally in honor of the local Blackberry Art School’s centenary celebration. While alumni arrive from around the country, Marlee hopes the expansive Sanderling farm will make an appropriate starting point for the race–despite rumors that the land is cursed . . .
But when Marlee surveys the property, she stumbles upon a long-dead body hidden in the bramble. It’s a horrifying mystery to everyone except her baker, who’s convinced the skeletal remains belong to a former student who had gone missing twenty years earlier. As the Fourth of July activities heat up, Marlee must rush to catch an elusive murderer–before the next ‘blackberry victim’ is ripe for the picking!
Includes Berry Recipes! (Goodreads)
I loved reading Blackberry Burial! It is an exciting, fast-paced mystery that is both delightful and deadly! It is A Berry Basket Mystery series, and can be read as a standalone. The mystery is realistic and well-written, and I appreciated the references to birds and their habitat. Bird lovers and art aficionados may enjoy the Blackberry Road Rally.
Marlee returned to Oriole Point two years ago from after an exciting job in the big city and opened The Berry Basket, a shop for many things related to berries native to western Michigan.. Marlee and Piper, the mayor’s wife, are going to Sanderling’s Farm to see how it will work for the upcoming Blackberry Road Rally. This year is the centenary celebration of Blackberry Art School, so the Rally is named accordingly and honors the centenary. Until the remains of a young woman, a student who disappeared from the school twenty years earlier are found by Charlemagne. Piper’s Great Dane broke free, raced around the farm and into the woods beyond. By the time Marlee found him, he had unearthed a skull. By the time the police arrive, the year-old pup had saved them the trouble of digging up the rest of the skeleton.
It was shocking to Marlee, who didn’t know Sienna. Her baker, Theo is crushed. He had loved Sienna; they were top of their classes in their respective art. Due to a brain injury when he was young, the other artists ignored him. All except for Sienna, the only one who was kind to him. Grieved that there was confirmation that Sienna was not alive anywhere, Theo asks Marlee to find out who killed Sienna. If only it were that easy; the alumni are more than willing to throw suspicion on him.
The BAS centenary celebration is beginning; the members of the group she was in at the school, all of whom were still friends, are saddened at the news. The police question each of the alumni, four men and two women. One of the ladies had to leave school early that summer due to a nasty case of poison ivy and couldn’t attend this year’s celebration as she is in the Brazilian rainforest collecting samples of native botanicals.
While the alumni are annoyed with Marlee’s questions, she is also preparing for the Road Rally. Her best friend, Tess, her baker Theo, and two of her part-time employees, Dean and Andrew, were riding together in Marlee’s Malibu. Dean and Andrew were desperately studying any kind of art that the Rally clues might point to. While they are obsessed with winning the Rally and splitting the substantial award, someone else is obsessed with quieting the people who are closest to uncovering the 20-year-old secret.
The characters are so much fun! Each has a unique personality and neuroses and contribute to the intrigue. Marlee is the most transparent; she is who she says she is. I enjoy her, Theo, and Kit Holmes. I may be on the bandwagon about how mismatched Ryan and Marlee are, especially since his family is priority over everything, including her. “Watching” birds with Theo is fun, as is Minnie, Marlee’s African Gray parrot.
The author does an excellent job of executing this intricate plot. What sets this cozy mystery apart from many others is the setting, learning about the berries, the characters, and how well the plot is woven together. The plot twists contributed to the overall story, as did the additional layer to the mystery, the wit, and the humorous situations amid the suspense. I did not anticipate who the bad guy/ gal was, bringing more than one surprise to the end. Overall, the novel was very satisfying and I highly recommend it.