“‘You’re a blasted idiot, is what you are,’ the old man growled in a voice too loud for the middle of the popular downtown diner.“
I’ve got a real liking for a ‘palate cleanse’ of a cosy mystery in between more serious reads, and finding a new series to try is always exciting. I’ve got a real thing for books set in bookshops and libraries, and this offered not only that – with another author as a heroine, to boot – but also the added bonuses of sweet treats, clever dogs, and some competition-winning gardening. Sounds ideal!
Lexi has been back in her home town for over a year, taking over the running of her parents’ bookshop after leaving a lucrative but too-demanding job editing books in the ‘big city’. The slower pace of life is suiting her, and she’s more than happy to have swapped the big career for a better work-life balance, and actual friends instead of just friendly colleagues.
Of course, it can’t all be sweetness and light, and the biggest thorn – rose pun definitely intended, as this is a town obsessed with a big gardening competition – in her side is neighbour, Gil, who will find any excuse to complain about Lexi, and her rescue pup, Cookie. The pair are also on the radar of local law enforcement, after Cookie is caught digging by the town’s prize-winning rose display, and Lexi is sure Detective Berg – or ‘Iceberg’ – has it in for them.
That theory is about to be tested to the max, when Cookie’s latest escapologist act takes her under the fence into Gil’s yard. Lexi chases after her – and is thus discovered standing over a dead body! Will the police believe her claims of innocence? Can the local book group – fans of murder mysteries of the more fictional kind – help Lexi point the blame elsewhere, and more to the point, uncover the dark reasons for the crime in their quiet little town?
I really enjoyed this. It’s well written, and uses all the tropes without falling into any of the pitfalls. So yes, sure, we’ve got some romantic hints, but it’s tackled maturely. The reasons for Lexi’s involvement in the case don’t seem forced, and there’s no need for eye rolling at silly decisions, in the main. The supporting cast is also nicely drawn, not leaning too hard into stereotypes.
My only complaint would be, as in common with the genre as I’ve sampled it to date, the final unravelling of the mystery seems to happen relatively abruptly, landing into Lexi’s lap without it feeling like she’s done too much work to get there.
Still, it was an enjoyable read, and I’d happily revisit Sweet Fiction for a follow up 🙂
NetGalley eARC: 336 pages / 30 chapters
First published: 12th October 2021
Series: Sweet Fiction Bookshop Mysteries book 1
Read from 12th-14th September 2021
My rating: 8/10