Brought to you by OBS reviewer Daniele
Owning the Charmed Pie Shoppe and serving enchanted treats in the magical town of Havenwood, Georgia, seemed like a little slice of heaven for Ella Mae LeFaye. But now her hopes for both a lasting romance with Hugh Dylan and business success are starting to seem like pie in the sky, and Ella’s left wondering: Where has the magic gone?
When an enchanted grove is set ablaze, Ella realizes she has more grave problems. With her magic waning, she’s going to have to sleuth from scratch to stop an arsonist who has no respect for sacred ground—or human life
Pecan Pies and Homicides picks up where Peach Pies and Alibis ends. Ella Mae has the ability to infuse her pie creations with emotions and memories. She has been depressed and distracted since her mother made the ultimate sacrifice of her kind by becoming The Lady of the Ash, literally becoming one with the sacred tree in the hallowed grove, in order to ensure the continued survival and magical powers of her people. Since Ella Mae can still communicate with her mother, she is her mother’s public voice, but all Ella Mae can think about is breaking the curse that binds her mother to the tree. Her business is suffering and she is worried for her relationship with her boyfriend. Keeping her magic a secret from him is a lot of work.
Ella Mae’s friend, Suzy, thinks she has found the answer, but it requires borrowing a book from Ella Mae’s family rival, the Gaynors, to investigate. Legend has it that there is a Flower of Life in the deepest spot of a nearby lake. The flower is …
“only given to the pure of heart during times of dire need and could be used to restore health, magic, and vigor.” (p.38)
However, it is said to be guarded by a dangerous creature, and the pages explaining this are missing from the book. How will she get around that to save her mother?
When it comes to Ella Mae’s attention that another enchanted grove and sacred tree have burned, a result of arson, she realizes there are other problems in her world and vows to help the displaced people find jobs and homes in Havenwood. The upper echelon, headed by Robert Morgan, does not seem concerned for the lesser members of their community, but his wife, Eira, is. Ella Mae befriends Eira, and Eira shares that she thinks she is in danger. When Ella Mae and her aunts find Eira dead just steps away from the Havenwood grove, Ella Mae is worried she has invited a killer to live in her beloved hometown.
She soon finds there is more to Eira than meets the eye. Then one of her best suspects, Eira’s childhood love Barric, is also murdered. Ella Mae must now find out who burned the other grove, what happened to Eira and Barric, what exactly her boyfriend, Hugh, is, because he’s not just an ordinary man, and how to retrieve the flower of life and save her mother. She has the help and support of her aunts, Suzy, and new friends, Jenny and Aiden.
The Charmed Pie Shoppe Series is not easily categorized. It is much more than a cozy mystery. There is a bit of romance, some dangerous adventure, and plenty of fantasy. There is an ample supply of plausible suspects, plot twists and turns, and enlightenments to keep the reader engrossed. I suspected the identity of the murderer, but not his/her motivation, about midway into the book. That I second guessed myself about the identity, to me, is an indication of good writing. I even felt somewhat sorry for a character that readers love to hate by the final pages. The mystery aspect of the story was wrapped up nicely, but the final chapter of the book leaves lots of opportunity for the series to carry on.
Ellery Adams persists in being one of the smartest, most consistent cozy writers out there. She writes gripping stories with interesting, multi layered characters that continue to grow with each installment. The Charmed Pie Shoppe Mysteries should be read in order, and I highly recommend them.