Another day, another Scottish cozy mystery. I have no shame. Mums and Mayhem is the third in the Magical Garden Mystery series, and the sense of presence has only gotten better. When can I move to Scotland? I am so ready.
From the Publisher:
A famous fiddler has been kilt. A magic garden’s left to wilt. Does Fiona Knox’s father hold the guilt? Will florist Fiona’s blood be spilt?
World-famous fiddle player Barley McFee arrives in blustery Bellewick, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, for a grand homecoming concert organized by jeweler Bernice Brennan. Fiona Knox, owner of the Climbing Rose Flower Shop, is starting to regret volunteering to help with the concert. Bernice is an exacting taskmaster, and Fiona has enough tension dealing with her parents, who have traveled from Tennessee to visit Fi and her younger sister, Isla, and to reveal a secret about Fi’s birth. But when Barley is found dead in his trailer during the concert’s intermission, and his death is shockingly tied to Fiona’s father, Fiona discovers there are more secrets surrounding her family than she realized.
Much to the chagrin of handsome Neil Craig, Chief Inspector of the County Aberdeen Police, Fiona delves into the case to clear her father’s name. To make matters worse, Fiona learns that Duncreigan, the magical garden that she inherited from her godfather, is dying. At some point during the concert, someone broke into the garden and cut the centuries-old climbing rose–the source of the garden’s magic–from the standing stone.
The stakes are higher than ever and Fiona could lose all that she’s grown unless she’s able to dispel this terrible curse and dig up the truth–fast.
What I Loved:
- The Mystery of the Dying Garden. While I didn’t love the actual mystery (more on that below), I did love how Fiona had to prove her mettle and grow as a gardener when some mystery person broke into the garden and cut the yellow rose. For the uninitiated, the rose is the lifeblood of the garden, and when it is cut, the magic is throttled. In solving how to bring the garden back, Fiona has to trust her gut and use her knowledge as a gardener by profession. I loved the descriptions of the plants dying and coming back, and I loved seeing Fiona’s growth.
- Fiona. I normally get so mad at the heroines in cozies – they are impulsive, irrational, and nosy, and they never know when to stop. Fiona is level headed and dislikes getting involved except when she has to (like when her father is a murder suspect…) She doesn’t love getting wrapped up in murder investigations, particularly now that her boyfriend is Chief Inspector Neil Craig. She gets reasonably angry when Craig withholds information about her father from her, but doesn’t have a sense of entitlement to try and solve the crime. She is also a badass gardener and business owner. All in all, she is one of the better written cozy heroines.
What Didn’t Work So Well:
- Fiona’s Family. Ugh, where to begin. Fiona’s parents have been lying to her for all of her life, and yet she is the bad guy for wanting to talk to them about it? Her mother is abrasive and willfully blind when it comes to her daughters’ wishes, the father seems nice enough but has no backbone and is content to let his wife bulldoze the way, and sister Isla is so sickening as the 20 something that is “in love.” Despite Fiona being written well otherwise, she seems to cater to these three people to the detriment of her own mental health. She is the only sensible one around them.
- The Murder Mystery. Honestly, I didn’t even hate the mystery, but I did feel that it took a backburner to the other issues going on (family and garden). I liked the intricacies of all of Barley’s bad blood relationships, but the murderer felt like it came out of left field even with some small breadcrumbs, and no one’s reactions to his death felt that genuine. I felt like the murder should have taken a more central role, and that the clue were better laid. Even Fiona didn’t really solve the murder in the end, but stumble upon the solution in dire times.
Another delightful installation for the Magical Garden Mystery series. I would recommend this to all cozy fans because the magic isn’t too3 in your face, magical realism fans for the light touch, and someone looking for a light beach series, since this is book three. Check out my review of book one, Flowers and Foul Play, and if you have already read the first two, you can buy Mums and Mayhem here. Four waves! Bring all three in this series to the beach with you before fall takes over.