ARC Review: “A Glimmer of a Clue,” by Daryl Wood Gerber

Happy Friday, all! I am a tad delinquent on this review, though in my defense I finished the book on time! A Glimmer of a Clue is book two in the Fairy Garden Mystery series by Daryl Wood Gerber, and I can confidently say it is much better than book one (I had the pleasure of reviewing that one as well). If you love fairies but also love murder mysteries, man do I have a series for you!


From the Publisher:

From Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber, the second in an enchantingly whimsical series featuring Courtney Kelly, the owner of a fairy-gardening and tea shop in Carmel, California. It’s a special place brimming with good vibes, lush greenery, miniature fairy accessories, and soothing fountains; the perfect venue for book club teas and home to a cat named Pixie. But in Carmel-by-the-Sea, things aren’t all sweetness and fairy lights…

When Courtney’s friend Wanda gets into a ponytail-pulling wrestling match in public with a nasty local art critic, Courtney stops the fight with the help of a garden hose. But Lana Lamar has a talent for escalating things and creating tension, which she succeeds in doing by threatening a lawsuit, getting into yet another scuffle–in the midst of an elegant fundraiser, no less–and lobbing insults around like pickleballs.

Next thing Courtney knows, Lana is on the floor, stabbed with a decorative letter opener from one of Courtney’s fairy gardens, and Wanda is standing by asking “What have I done?” But the answer may not be as obvious as it seems, since Wanda is prone to sleepwalking and appears to be in a daze. Could she have risen from her nap and committed murder while unconscious? Or is the guilty party someone else Lana’s ticked off, like her long-suffering husband? To find out, Courtney will have to dig up some dirt…


What I Loved:

  • Expansion of Fairy Backstory. My biggest gripe with the first book in the Fairy Garden Mystery series was that the fairies seemed more like an afterthought than a major plot point. It actually bothered me because why add fairies to a perfectly serviceable cozy unless you planned to use them in a major way. However, A Glimmer of A Clue really brought in some of the magical elements and backstory missing from the first book. Courtney’s righteous fairy Fiona is slowly making her way back into the fairy queen’s good graces, Courtney is helping her friends and neighbors see their fellow fairy friends, and Fiona and her network are able to be crucial in solving the murder. I loved the “classifications” of fairies and how each classification has a different purpose, and I love the new powers Fiona has been discovering (reading minds, calming people down, etc).
  • Descriptions of Fairy Gardens. Fairy gardens are not as common by me, since they are generally made from succulents or other year-round outdoor plants that are almost nonexistent with New York winters. So when I began reading the Fairy Garden Mystery series, I was intrigued and found images of fairy gardens online. In book two, my imagination didn’t have to suffice – there are so many more descriptions of the fairy gardens, Courtney’s greenhouse of wonders, and the delicate fairy figurines that occupy the gardens. I loved the craft involved in making the gardens, and how Courtney teaches her neighbors and customers about the energy of each garden and proper placement.
  • The Romance. Ah, the romance. A long lost crush, two adults now trying to navigate the waters between friendship and a relationship – Courtney and Brady the hunky divorced café owner are delightful to read. I love how organically this relationship is budding, not too quick but also progressing so Brady can tell Courtney straight out he wants to take her on a date without any of the initial awkwardness. Also, I don’t know whose idea of a “not date” sitting on a beach with a picnic of wine and cheese watching the sunset is, but I want more of those in my life.

What Didn’t Work for Me:

  • The Murder. This is *slightly* inaccurate. I loved the set up of the murder (an unlikeable victim, and plain as day red herring, a sleepwalker), but felt that the conclusion was rushed, and the antagonist’s motive not as concrete as it should have been. I found the murderer’s actions to be irrational for someone who so calculatedly planned this murder and the suspects of same, and thought that Courtney’s involvement in solving it bordered on unbelievable. It would have been more fun if Courtney got caught giving clues to the Inspector that she shouldn’t know (courtesy of her fairy) and trying to explain it away. No one seems to bat an eye here.
  • Obsession with Exercising/Food. For some reason, Gerber always brings in the main character’s obsession with exercising and watching their weight into her books. I have this issue with her Cookbook Nook series, to the point where I dropped a rating a full star based on the main character’s habit of fat shaming everyone around her. While Glimmer of a Clue isn’t that bad, I was still disappointed by the amount of weight each character’s exercise regime was given, or Courtney’s running routine. Also, pickleball. Who the hell knew pickleball was still relevant.

Conclusion:

All in all, Glimmer of a Clue was significantly better than book one, and had both the elements of a good cozy and a light fantasy. Also, she gave an Easter egg shout out to my favorite cozy heroine Brooklyn Wainwright of the Bookbinder Mysteries! Four waves! Pick up your copy for your next beach trip here, hot off the presses (official publish date was June 29th!) If you haven’t started the Fairy Garden Mystery series yet, you don’t necessarily have to pick up book one, but if you are like me and *need* to read in order, pick up A Sprinkling of Murder here (both in paperback, no less)!

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