A Cranberry Cove Mystery, Book #1
By Peg Cochran
Author’s website: www.pegcochran.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
When Monica Albertson comes to Cranberry Cove—a charming town on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan—to help her half-brother Jeff on his cranberry farm, the last thing she expects to harvest is a dead body.
It seems that Sam Culbert, who ran the farm while Jeff was deployed overseas, had some juicy secrets that soon prove fatal, and Jeff is ripe for the picking as a prime suspect. Forming an uneasy alliance with her high-maintenance stepmother, Monica has her hands full trying to save the farm while searching for a killer. Culbert made plenty of enemies in the quaint small town…but which one was desperate enough to kill?
Berried Secrets is the first book in the new Cranberry Cove Mystery series and devotees to the cozy genre will find much to like within its pages.
Monica Albertson finds herself available to move to Cranberry Cove, Michigan, after the failure of her café and death of her fiancé. Her half-brother Jeff has purchased a cranberry farm and, being a disabled veteran, could use Monica’s help with his first harvest. On the first morning of the harvest while wading into the bog, Monica stumbles and Sam Culbert’s body rises to the surface. Sam is the town mayor, owns much of the town, and looked after the farm while Jeff was deployed to Afghanistan. Monica thinks that Sam was skimming funds from the farm, and Jeff quickly becomes the police’s prime suspect. Jeff is not alone in his dislike of Sam; most of the town folk had some sort of beef with him. Mauricio, one of Jeff’s workers, takes off before the police arrive. Greg Harper, the local bookstore owner, ran against him in the mayoral race and lost. Sam did not treat his wife well, and she does not seem all that grieved by his death. Cora, the diner’s waitress, had to give up her hair salon when Sam made her rent unaffordable. To complicate matters, Jeff’s mother Gina has come to town for a visit that turns permanent. As the body count rises and with Gina’s help, Monica sets out to clear Jeff’s name and uncover the real killer.
Berried Secrets has all of the ingredients to be a successful cozy series. There is a charming small town with wacky, likable characters, a sensible, but nosy, protagonist with a flawed past that leads her to said small town, a victim that the reader will love to hate, and the seemingly requisite cat. I did indeed find Cranberry Cove to be an enchanting setting, and I would enjoy visiting the shops, especially Greg’s bookstore, and eating comfort food at the diner. Monica comes across as a very down to earth character, almost stodgy and a little too perfect at times, but she did loosen up as the story advanced, and I think I will grow to like her as the series progresses. Jeff is an interesting character and has the potential to develop nicely as he learns to deal with his changed life since his war injury. Honestly, I did not like Gina much at her introduction, but she too seemed to mellow as time went on, and I think she will be a nice addition to the town. Greg is my favorite character of the bunch. I think there is more to him than his bookish exterior.
Cochran does a fine job of pacing the story and revealing clues a bit at a time. I found all of the suspects to be viable and was somewhat surprised when the perpetrator was revealed. I did find the modus operandi in the second murder to be quite clever. The informational tidbits about cranberries were interesting, and I must make the coffee cake recipe that is included at the end of the book.