Post-retirement aches and pains can’t prevent sixty-five-year-old Lilly Jayne from keeping the most manicured garden in Goosebush, Massachusetts. But as a murder mystery blooms in the sleepy New England town, can a green thumb weed out a killer?
With hundreds flocking to her inaugural garden party, meticulous Lilly Jayne hasn’t left a single petal out of place. But the picture-perfect gathering turns unruly upon the arrival of Merilee Frank, Lily’s ex-husband’s catty third wife. Merilee lives for trouble, so no one is surprised after she drinks too much, shoves a guest into the koi pond, and gets escorted off the property. The real surprise comes days later—when Merilee is found dead in a pile of mulch . . .
Lilly wishes she could stick to pruning roses and forget about Merilee’s murder—until her best friend and ex become suspects in an overgrown homicide case. Now, aided by the Garden Squad, an unlikely group of amateur crime solvers with a knack for planting, Lilly knows she has limited time to identify the true culprit and restore order to Goosebush. Because if the murderer’s plot isn’t nipped in the bud, another victim could be pushing up daisies!
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Pruning the Dead
Thank you, Julia Henry, for creating this ensemble cast of characters. There's nothing simpering about Lilly, who guides the garden lovers. These are strong characters. I anticipate hours of pleasure as I move on to the next book in the series.
Debut in A Garden Squad Mystery series
Pruning the Dead is the debut novel in A Garden Squad Mystery series. I appreciated that the author took the time to establish the main character and her sidekicks who compose the Garden Squad. I like the town and most of the residents (there are always a few bad eggs). Lilly comes across as a do-gooder (I am surprised there is not a golden halo shining over her head). Goosebush is a small town that needs a little TLC. Lilly has not been paying attention the last four years as she dealt with her husband’s illness and then grieving for her lost mate. Now, she is aware that things have not been kept up around town and she has plans to rectify it. Unfortunately, Pat French, the town clerk, has numerous rules in place to prevent the simplest task (like pulling weeds and installing plants around the flagpole). Pruning the Dead is nicely written with steady pacing which makes for an easy to read book. The mystery was very straightforward. It is easy to distinguish who would die and who did the deed before the crime had been committed. The why was equally obvious (insert disappointed sigh here). There was repetition of case details as the Lilly and the Garden Squad got together to discuss the case. Also, that Lilly creates order out of chaos was frequently mentioned along with Delia’s researching skills. The friends like to get together to socialize, eat good food, and discuss gardening. The gardening details are not lacking in Pruning the Dead. There are gardening tips at the end of the book. The story could have used more action (less gardening, talking and eating). The pace slowed down when I was a quarter of the way through and did not pick back up until the end. There is a hint that romance may blossom between Lilly and her new neighbor, Roderick Lyden as Lilly rejoins the living and becomes immersed in town matters. I am giving Pruning the Dead 3 out of 5 stars. Pruning the Dead is a good start to A Garden Squad Mystery series. I will be reading Tilling the Truth when it releases later this summer.