I had to pleasure to read Flowers and Foul Play after having read all of Flower’s (the author’s name is so fun and fitting) other series, The Magical Bookshop series. Flower is another queen of the cozy genre, and I was so excited to dive into this series.
From the Publisher:
Fiona Knox lost her fiancé and her flower shop—but when she flies to Scotland to inherit her godfather’s cottage and possibly magical walled garden, she may lose her life as well when she’s swept into a murder investigation.
Florist Fiona Knox’s life isn’t smelling so sweet these days. Her fiancé left her for their cake decorator. Then, her flower shop wilted after a chain florist opened next door. So when her godfather, Ian MacCallister, leaves her a cottage in the Scottish Highlands, Fiona jumps on the next plane to Edinburgh. Ian, after all, is the one who taught her to love flowers. But when Ian’s elderly caretaker Hamish MacGregor shows her to the cottage upon her arrival, she finds the once resplendent grounds of Duncreigan in a dreadful shambles—with a dead body in the garden.
Minutes into her arrival, Fiona is already being questioned by the handsome Chief Inspector Neil Craig and getting her passport seized. But it’s Craig’s fixation on Uncle Ian’s loyal caretaker, Hamish, as a prime suspect, that really makes her worried. As Fiona strolls the town, she quickly realizes there are a whole bouquet of suspects much more likely to have killed Alastair Croft, the dead lawyer who seems to have had more enemies than friends.
Now it’s up to Fiona to clear Hamish’s name before it’s too late in Flowers and Foul Play, national bestselling author Amanda Flower’s enchanting first Magic Garden mystery.
What I Loved:
- The Setting. How can you beat a beautiful Scotland garden, replete with twisting ivy and ancient Celtic stones, a little cottage with a huge wood burning fireplace, the sea pounding on the shoreline not far away, and an adorable village with friendly but gossipy locals? If you can’t tell, this is my dream place. The winters are rough, the summers are mild, but it is all beautiful. Fiona, the main character, is from Tennessee, and I love her reactions to all of this greenery and new sensations.
- Quote: “After that storm, winter gave up her fight to spring. Although she would be back. She will always come back after her battle with autumn.”
- Fiona. Normally, I have strong and mixed reactions to the heroines of cozy mysteries. They are often meddling and unhelpful, feel entitled to information that they are not, and not particularly strong characters. Fiona is certainly a meddler, but she is not entitled and tries to generally cooperate with hunky Chief Inspector Craig, despite the fact that he is looking at beloved caretaker Hamish for the murder. Fiona’s life is in turmoil, but she is plucky and takes on the role of the garden’s guardian with gusto. Also, her emotional reactions *make sense* (as compared to too many ladies in these stories who are all over the place).
- Duncan the Squirrel and Ivanhoe the Cat. I also have a general policy of not focusing on the animals in books unless they are the only redeeming quality of the book. However I have to make an exception here, because Duncan may be the cutest familiar/animal companion ever. He is a little red squirrel that is up to no good. Paired with him is Ivanoe, the dead man’s cat that Fiona gives a home, who is definitely the king of the house and Fiona treats him as such. I love their dynamic (very cat and mouse), and they are basically human characters to me.
What I Didn’t Love as Much:
- The Mystery. I am not a particularly good sleuth, and often don’t guess who the killer is in these types of books. However in Flowers and Foul Play, there was basically no hint of who it was until about halfway through, and in my opinion it was a bit of a whammy. Maybe other people thought it made sense, but I was disappointed that the lead was buried so much. The explanation of the motive also seemed over-complicated, but that may just be me.
- The (Lack of) Flower Talk. For a book about a magical garden, there wasn’t much horticultural talk. I loved what we descriptions we did get of the garden, and I liked the tidbits that Fiona threw in about plants (she studied horticulture and used to own a flower shop), but I wanted more. I hope that in future books, Fiona’s plant knowledge and the garden’s flora are featured more prominently.
I really enjoyed reading Flowers and Foul Play. It was just what I needed coming out of a book slump, and I can’t wait to fly through the series. Amanda Flower is really a great voice in cozy fiction, and I love that she throws magical elements in. I hope that she gives us more of that element in the future. Four waves out of five! Bring this cozy book to the beach and dig into the sand. Buy your copy here or here (on sale at Bookshop and already in paperback!)