Title: A Pumpkin Spice Killing
Series: A Farm-to-Fork Mystery
Author: Lynn Cahoon
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Angie Turner’s Idaho restaurant, the County Seat, owes its success not only to its farm-fresh fair, but also to its devoted and passionate staff. But a team-building retreat turns into much more than they bargained for . . .
Angie and her County Seat staff are all prepared for some much-needed R&R. Hope’s been hinting at an arts-and-crafts themed retreat. Instead, they end up at a military veteran’s home, where it’s their job to get it spic and span for summer. In between weeding the garden and painting the rooms, Angie starts up a conversation with an older vet who wants to make amends with his son before it’s too late. Unfortunately, he has no idea of his son’s whereabouts. It’s the perfect side job for the County Seat team, but someone keeps blocking their efforts. And the more they try to find out why, the more they’re certain someone’s life might be in danger . . . (from Goodreads)
It’s pumpkin spice everything season, which makes this novella an extra special delight! I enjoyed seeing co-owners Angie and Felicia and the staff of the successful farm-to-fork restaurant, County Seat again. Angie’s boyfriend Ian and her Saint Bernard dog Dom round out the group; I can almost picture everyone from their descriptions. I especially enjoyed the setting and interactions with the veterans. I felt as if I saw a new side of the characters and the author, and it was great!
It is time for County Seat’s team-building retreat. Staff members select the location of the retreat and activities. Hope, the former dishwasher and newest line chef chose this one and set it up. They are heading to River Vista Veterans Home to help with state-required repairs and cleaning. They will be there for four days and hope to knock out most of the needs.
Carol owns and runs the home where there are currently only two residents. She needs more residents, but without the repairs, she will not be allowed to keep the two she has. Carol is frustrated and doesn’t want anyone there to help with anything. Carol is very territorial, even making calls to try to force them to leave, as if she is hiding something.
Angie and Ian take turns sitting with Randy, one of the veterans, during their meals, while Felicia and Estebe take turns with Hendrick. They learn interesting things about the men, the home, Carol, and her ex-boyfriend. There had been a third man there whose death seemed suspicious to Randy and Hendrick. When Hendrick is found nearly dead, they know something is wrong and want to get to the bottom of it.
Randy, a man “with a basketful of regrets at (his) feet”, asks Angie for her help with something. He and his son and daughter-in-law have been estranged for thirty years due to his own words and bitterness, and he wants to make it right while he’s still alive. Angie promises to do what she can with the information he gives her. Four days isn’t nearly enough time to work on repairs, find Randy’s son, and look for evidence of what’s happening to the men, but they are determined to do their very best.
I enjoy that the staff is not stationary, that we get to meet new staff on occasion. This isn’t Bleak’s first time in the series, but we do get to know her better this time. I like how Angie sees the group as her family, not just employees or the means to a profit. Characters, including the ones specific to this story, are defined well through realistic communications and actions.
We were outside the usual setting of County Seat, yet I think this setting is important to the staff and to readers. The author’s dedication at the beginning, how she presents Carol, the state representatives, and how understanding and grateful the veterans are, is something we all need to see. I was surprised and pleased with how the story wraps up! The resolutions came almost too quickly as is the nature of novellas. It is a wonderful addition to the series; I would, however, suggest that a person new to the series should read at least of the full-length novels before this to get to know the self-proclaimed “Scooby Doo Crew” a little better. I highly recommend this heartwarming and intriguing novella!