Sowed to Death
Farmer’s Daughter Mystery, Book #2
By Peg Cochran
Author’s website: www.Pegcochran.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
The county fair is the highlight of the year for the small town of Lovett, Michigan especially for food-and-lifestyle blogger Shelby McDonald, who writes as the Farmer s Daughter. She s submitting jams and jellies she s created from the produce she grows at Love Blossom Farm in hopes of harvesting a blue ribbon.
But the townspeople get more than just the excitement of hayrides, tractor pulls, and cotton candy when Shelby s neighbor and volunteer fireman, Jake Taylor, extricates the body of Zeke Barnstable instead of a dummy during a demonstration of the Jaws of Life. The fact that Jake and Zeke were known to be at odds plants suspicion in the minds of the police. As evidence against Jake grows, Shelby knows she has to plow through the clues to weed out the true killer and save her friend.
Sowed to Death is sure to please cozy mystery fans as they follow along with farmer/blogger Shelby McDonald as she weeds through the clues to unmask an unlikely murderer.
Shelby works hard. As a farmer, blogger, and single mother to two busy children, she has plenty to keep her busy and too little time and money to spare. She and the kids are excited to spend the day at the annual county fair, and nine year old Billy is particularly excited to see the fire department’s Jaws of Life demonstration. Things go awry when the body of local farmer Zeke Barnstable is pulled from the car instead of the expected dummy. Zeke was a bit of a loner after the disappearance of his wife Brenda, but Jake Taylor, who rents the pasture that abuts Zeke’s land from Shelby, quickly becomes the police’s prime suspect when it comes to light that he and Zeke fought and that he has no strong alibi. Shelby does not believe that Jake committed any crime and takes it upon herself to investigate. Little does she know the danger that lies ahead for her and one she cares about.
Sowed to Death is a well written, expertly plotted mystery. Cochran’s descriptive style makes me want to take up gardening, which is saying a lot since I do not like being hot, getting dirty, or bugs. Shelby’s blog posts, which speak directly to the reader, are engaging and informative. I enjoy the laid back, country feel, yet the pace remains quick. It quickly becomes apparent that Zeke has made some enemies, and Shelby uses keen observational skills, gently probing questions, and a hefty dose of small town gossip to move her inquiries along. There are several suspects with good motives, but I did not identify the killer until right before Shelby did, and their identity came as somewhat of a surprise.
The characters are well drawn, but we still do not know much about Jake or general store owner Matt. I mention these since, along with Shelby’s brother-in-law Frank, they have all shown romantic interest in Shelby. Three suitors. Why? I find Shelby to be relatable and think we could be friends in real life. I appreciate that she is not too young or naïve. I also particularly like Shelby’s friend Bert who acts as something of a parental figure. I know she and I would definitely be friends. It is fairly unusual for a cozy protagonist to have children, but Billy and Amelia play integral roles in the story, and both add depth and realism. I admit, though, that throughout the book I wanted to swat Amelia’s smart phone right out of her thirteen year old hand. Ah, teenagers and their angst.
I enjoy Shelby’s world and the Farmer’s Daughter Mystery series and look forward to more mysteries to be solved. I recommend Sowed to Death to any reader of the cozy genre.