Nightshade for Warning
Enchanted Garden Mystery #2
By Bailey Cattrell
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
The second Enchanted Garden Mystery from Bailey Cattrell author of the “New York Times” bestselling Magical Bakery Mysteries as Bailey Cates.
Elliana Allbright s custom-made perfume shop and the Enchanted Garden behind it are garnering all sorts of attention lately, but a dead body could bury her in bad publicity…
Elliana’s business and personal life are flourishing in her hometown of Poppyville, CA since she opened Scents & Nonsense. She uses her very special skills to craft perfumes that almost magically ease heartache, inspire change, and bring joy and her customers love to relax in the beautiful garden behind her shop along with her corgi, Dash, and her cat, Nabokov. The shop is so popular that a journalist has come to write a feature about Ellie for a national magazine.
But then the journalist is found dead, and suspicion falls on the last person to see him who just happens to be Ellie s brothers girlfriend. So before everything goes to seed, Ellie must rely on her powers observational and otherwise to pick out the real killer from an ever-expanding bouquet of culprits…” (From Goodreads)
Nightshade for Warning, second in Bailey Cattrell’s Enchanted Garden Mystery series, is enchantingly delightful! It is suspenseful and a celebration of friendship and uniquely gifted individuals. The cover design is as beautifully inviting as that of the first in series. While picturing the plant in question, it also showcases some of the joy of the Enchanted Garden, Ellie’s Corgi, Dash, and the charm of her perfume and more shop.
Ellie’s brother Colby pays a surprise, bringing a lovely young woman with him. Larken has been traveling with Colby in his 70’s Westfalia van for only a short time, and it is evident they are in love. The three go to dinner that evening, but the reservation is not on the books. Never fear, Cynthia, founder of a women’s business group, is having dinner with the man scheduled to interview Ellie the next day. Blake was born and raised in Poppyville but didn’t return after college. The magazine he is with will include an article about Ellie’s house and garden in their upcoming tiny house issue.
Ellie lives in a ‘tiny house’, 320 SF, that was formerly a shed behind her shop, Scents and Nonsense. A local architect prepared the design to upgrade it to her house, with more hidden storage and homey touches than one could imagine. Between her home and the shop is the Enchanted Garden, which she has designed with the help of her friend Thea, a gifted horticulturist. She has planted and lovingly cared for this amazing, peaceful place full of miniature areas that give the illusion that the faeries will soon come out to play. Throughout are herbs and flowers Ellie uses to prepare essential oils for her perfumes and skin preparations. Ellie loves using her gamma’s journal, full of drawings and information about various herbs, other plants and flowers she had raised or studied.
Blake is unhappy that Cynthia invited Ellie, Colby and Larken to join them. Blake is a cynical, bitter man who has no passion for anything environmental unless it earns a favorable amount of cash for him. Larken, serious about one day having a small, organic farm, has a loud disagreement with him and, after calling him out, ran out of the restaurant. The next morning, Blake is found dead in his hotel room, and the murder weapon was in his herbal tea blend. Unfortunately, as a peace offering, Larken had brought him the tea, sans the deadly weapon. As they race against the clock to find the killer before Detective Max Lang throws the book at Larken, Ellie learns there is much more involved than merely an unpleasant man having a tantrum. Such as land that has been in his family for several generations that is valuable to developers, and the journalists whose careers he shredded for his own gain…
Elliana (Ellie) is a wonderful young woman who is happy with her life. She is three-dimensional, someone who would be fun to know with her encyclopedic knowledge of herbs and scents. Her best friend, Astrid, and their friends are hard workers with talents ranging from horticulture to understanding small animals and horses. Ellie and Larken are in many ways alike. If they can keep her out of jail and Colby in town, they would be fabulous friends. I do like most of the characters in this novel! As the pages flew, I grew to like a couple people I wasn’t sure I would. Each character is drawn with care, filling in the colors of their talents throughout.
This cozy couldn’t be written by just anyone. The author has a love and respect for, and extensive knowledge of, plants and their properties. She has gifted us with a detailed, finely executed mystery that works beautifully because of her love of plants and magic, and her talent for putting words and characters in harmony with each other. Things I enjoyed reading about includes herbs and scents, Nabby’s blue moths, the author’s use of weather relating to events, and the characters of Ellie, Lupe, Astrid, Larken, and one more lady who is a surprise. There is a handful of very good suspects, then one by one, they were plucked from the list. The bad guy/ gal is an almost complete surprise. The denouement was exciting and completely satisfying, leaving this reader looking forward to the next one. I highly recommend Nightshade for Warning, especially those who love cozy mysteries and herbology that includes a delightful cast of characters and gorgeous California setting.