Daisies for Innocence
An Enchanted Garden Mystery #1
By Bailey Cattrell
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Jeanie
The Enchanted Garden behind Elliana Allbright’s perfume shop draws people of all ages with its fragrant flowers and lush greenery. But when the magical serenity is interrupted, it’s up to Ellie to sniff out a killer.
Ellie’s life has blossomed in Poppyville, California, since she opened Scents & Nonsense, a custom-made-perfume store. Her skills with aromas and botanical essences—some from her very own garden—seem almost…supernatural. Her perfumes can evoke emotions, bring about change, or simply make people happy. Customers are flocking to the store to buy her wares or just to sit in her beautiful garden, sip tea and enjoy homemade cookies.
But she smells trouble when she learns that her part-time assistant Josie is dating her ex. And before she can tell the young woman to beware of his charms, she finds Josie dead in the Enchanted Garden. Now the prime suspect in Josie’s murder, Ellie must search for the real culprit in Josie’s past—because it’ll take a miracle to nip this problem in the bud….(from Goodreads)
This first offering in ‘An Enchanted Garden Mystery’ series is delightful and intriguing; I completely enjoyed it! The whimsical cover design is an invitation to read, perhaps even sitting in a similarly beautiful garden or park. Ellie is a breath of fresh air as she shares with those in her shop about the scents she prepares and sells. Whether the reader is familiar or not with the plant sources of the scents, one does not feel as if the author’s descriptions are too formal or too small. Ellie’s ‘gift’ is not exploited; it is something that she doesn’t brag about or misuse.
Scents and Nonsense is the kind of shop I would visit if it were in my neighborhood, if nothing else but to sniff the candles, soaps, and perfumes. Behind the shop is an incredible garden full of flowers, herbs, and other plants where Ellie, her customers and friends enjoy relaxing and perhaps watching birds at the feeders, with or without an herbal tea. Ellie has a gift, inherited from her grandmother, of listening to a client or friend and ‘knowing’ what scents the person might need for any aspect of their health, stress relief, or enjoyment. She has ‘knowings’ about certain plants as she works with them, also. Some might see it as magic, but I guess I see it simply as a gift that is wonderfully helpful to others in her life.
Josie, Ellie’s part-time assistant who is also a bartender at the Roux Grill, greets her one day with the news that she has been dating Ellie’s ex-hubby for a few weeks. Harris had really changed, she said, he was not the man with the wandering eye that Ellie had been married to. Harris still owned the Grill, which they had started up together. It was a horrible, frightening morning, however, the day after Josie’s announcement when Dash, Ellie’s sweet Corgi, found the dead body of Josie just inside the gate to her shop when she was barely awake. Almost as bad was that one of the two responding homicide detectives was Harris’ friend, Max Lang. The other detective, Lupe Garcia, seemed much more professional than Lang, who grilled her as to her whereabouts and treated her as the one and only possible suspect. Before she is framed for something she didn’t do, she felt that she had to find who the real bad guy/ gal was. Sadly, her gift was of no help when it came to life and death matters. Incidentally, she also had to hire another part time assistant so she could take time away from the shop to ask questions.
Ellie is a no-nonsense kind of lady, in spite of the name of her shop! I appreciated how she valued wisdom from prior years by using her grandmother’s gardening journal rather than simply jumping on the internet for more modern ideas. By the time the story was complete, I felt as if I knew her in many ways. The author showed the primary characters very well, in part through their conversations and actions, in part through her descriptions. We have the advantage of the novel being written in first person so we can connect with Ellie better than the others. We do get to know her best friend, Astrid, Ritter, once a high school crush and older brother of her friend Thea, and to a lesser degree various others such as Lupe Garcia and even Harris. Ellie and her friends are very likeable and compliment each other well. Even her pets, Dash and the Russian blue cat, Nabakov, complimented each other and Ellie.
The story itself is unique in the respect of the garden and the shop, and that Ellie is a terrific protagonist in a very balanced way. She is who she presents herself to be, and is a successful businesswoman while following her passion. It was interesting to meet people who were in Josie’s life in the past, as Ellie learned a whole new side of her, opening wide the field for many suspects. The bad guy/ gal remained elusive, however, and trying to be an armchair sleuth was challenging. The plot twists and red herrings made it difficult to solve the mystery and this reader was woefully slow to the finish line. I highly recommend this fascinating first-in-series mystery! Those who enjoy well-written cozy mysteries with a protagonist who is intelligent and funny may enjoy this, and those who appreciate learning about botanicals will find that to be icing on the cake.
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*