BLOOMING WITH MURDER by Kathryn Long
SERIES: Sierra Pines B&B Mystery #3
GENRE: Cozy Mystery (clean)
PUBLISHER: Camel Press
RELEASE DATE: March 14, 2023
Spring is blooming in Sierra Pines, and everyone’s busy preparing for the annual Spring Fling Festival. Ali Winston takes her B&B guests for a tour, and their first stop is the face painting booth. Local school board president, Melvin Renville, is there to honor a bet he lost to the student body by having his face painted. However, things turn tragic when he has an allergic reaction and ends up dead.
No one is more surprised than Ali’s best friend and art teacher, Lyla Lane, when it’s discovered her face paint contains peanut oil, an ingredient Renville was highly allergic to. Lyla insists she’d never use store bought paint, only homemade, because in teaching elementary school, she’s aware many kids have food allergies.
Ali suspects someone wanted Renville dead and cleverly framed Lyla for the crime. The question is who had motive and the opportunity to pull off such a daring deed? Of course, rumors spread and fingers point at Lyla when word gets out that Renville had notified her, merely hours before his death, that the art program and her job would be cut next year. Talk about a motive to kill.
With Sheriff Sterling painting Lyla as his prime suspect, Ali is determined to help her friend by discovering the true killer and to keep spring blooming in Sierra Pines.
Other Books In This Series
I have a been a fan of Ali, Quint, Gladys & Ollie right from the beginning, and if the Sierra Pines B&B were a real place I’d definitely be booking a stay there! After the events in Snowed Under Murder, I was thrilled to see the bed and breakfast thriving in this new book. Ali and the Bellweather siblings have worked hard to help it succeed, honoring Ali’s late aunt Julia and her memory by doing so.
A new batch of guests have filled up the B&B ahead of the town’s Spring Fling, including a couple of surprises – a diva actress recuperating from plastic surgery (aka hiding) and Ali’s own mother who seems to be troubled about something that she won’t talk about. Both of these guests would be enough to keep Ali’s hands full, along with her work for the Spring Fling festival, but of course the author also had to give her a murder mystery to solve. No problem! Ali is savvy and smart, and she makes juggling all of the above – and a relationship with swoony Quint – look simple. I love that she maintains a bright outlook (for the most part) while also being empathetic to the troubles of those around her and looking out for her friends. She is an easy character to like and she’s the perfect balance for the Fred-and-Ethel style bickering between Gladys & Ollie, the Bellweather sister and brother team who help her run the inn.
The mystery is very well-plotted, with the suspects continuing to pile up until the very end. Instead of eliminating people in the course of her own sleuthing, this time Ali seems to just add more to the list. This keeps readers on their toes right along with her, and I confess to being completely shocked by the culprit’s ultimate reveal, despite suspecting a variety of characters before all was said and done. I also loved that the classic movie theme from the B&B spreads to the mystery solving this go-around, too.
Bottom Line: If you’d love to experience the magic of old Hollywood tempered with a relaxing small-town vacation – murder notwithstanding – then a visit to the Sierra Pines B&B would be right up your alley! Ali and her people (namely, Gladys, Ollie & Quint) are immediately likable and layered, helping readers feel right at home with these characters. The clues, red herrings, and surprising twists add further enjoyment to the story and keep readers invested in the outcome. Blooming With Murder is another engaging read from Kathryn Long!
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4 stars / enjoyed it!
Content: completely clean
Kathryn Long is a native Ohioan who spends her days plotting murder and writing mysteries. She’s a member of Sisters in Crime as well as of International Thriller Writers. She’s actively involved in the writing and publishing worlds and stays up to date on her social media platforms. Kathryn lives with her husband and furry friend Max in the quiet suburbs of Green, Ohio. The B&B series also includes Boarding with Murder and Snowed Under Murder. Inspiration for the storyline comes from her classic movie obsession, particularly Arsenic and Old Lace, and her love for Cary Grant. Kathryn also writes the PAINT BY MURDER mystery series under the name Bailee Abbott.
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