A Silly Snipping of Mystery – “Evil in Carnations” by Kate Collins
Kate Collins is clever as can be when it comes to creating titles for her Flower Shop Mystery series. I first became aware of these books when a friend gave me a bookmark for her most recent release in the series – “Dirty Rotten Tendrils.” Being amused by the title, I figured the books were likely to be a fun read. Also in the series are books with the amazing titles “Mum’s the Word,” “A Rose from the Dead, “Sleeping with Anemone,” and “Dearly Depotted” (among others.)
However, it was “Evil in Carnations” that had me chuckling the hardest, and so I picked up a copy.
“Evil in Carnations,” as I have to imagine holds true for the rest of the Flower Shop Mystery series, is a sweet little paperback mystery. It’s a little pointless, totally harmless, and quite a bit of escapist fun, actually. It’d be a great vacation book, as it doesn’t require undivided attention or even too much deep thought.
Abby Knight, our heroine, bought a flower shop in New Chapel, Indiana after being kicked out of law school and dumped by her fiancee. Now, trying to keep her small-town business from going under, she finds herself wrapped up in local mysteries – which is the basis for the series. In this installation, Abby’s roommate Nikki has been accused of murdering a guy she met while at a speed-dating event. The guy, Jonas Treat (nicknamed “Treat the Cheat”) was an arrogant, handsome, rich dude, and there are plenty of people who could have committed the crime – but there’s hard evidence against Nikki.
Being a busybody, Abby butts her way into the investigation in an attempt to clear her friend’s name, despite being told to stay out of it by Nikki’s lawyer. Like a combination of Nancy Drew and Jessica Fletcher (albeit with a sex life and a hot boyfriend trying to whisk her away for a romantic weekend) Abby makes her rounds, questioning suspicious figures in the case – a jilted ex-fiancee, a dry-cleaner with a crush, and a few business associates where deals went bad. Fortunately, she’s assisted by her Private Investigator/Bar owner boyfriend, and has the lively staff of her flower shop to keep things running.
It’s all fairly standard mystery fare, and ends with a twist I have to admit I didn’t see coming. Some of the characters are slightly eye-rolling, but they’re all at least vivid. From the personal shopper cousin lacking in any tact to the wannabe stand-up comic dry-cleaning lady, everyone’s got a gimmick to tell them apart.
Admittedly, I probably won’t read the other books in the series, but I have no regrets.
(Side note: While reading the press quotes in the front of the book, I was surprised to see how many mystery series like this there are. There are quotes from the authors of the Bad Hair Day mysteries, the Knitting mysteries, the Coffeehouse mysteries, the A Crime of Fashion mysteries, the Dead-End Job mysteries, and the Scumble River mysteries. Clearly, there’s a whole world of delightful paperback mysteries I was unaware of until reading this book.)