Book Reviews: ‘Til Dirt Do Us Part by Edith Maxwell and They Danced by the Light of the Moon by Tempa Pagel

Til Dirt Do Us Part‘Til Dirt Do Us Part
A Local Foods Mystery
Edith Maxwell
Kensington Books, May 2014
ISBN 978-0-7582-8464-8
Hardcover

Cameron Flaherty has inherited her Uncle’s farm in Westbury, Massachusetts where she grows organic crops to share with the local townspeople. As subscribers to her vegetable service, each member of the organization receives a weekly share of the crops throughout the year. They volunteer time, working on the farm, helping Cam with the planting, weeding and sowing.

When one of the subscribers is brutally murdered, and Cam’s good friend is arrested and named a suspect she is pulled into the investigation. Cam juggles her time between her boyfriend, bringing in her fall harvest, planting seedlings for next year’s crops and following clues to solve the crime and exonerate her friend.

Of course, her questions attract the killer’s attention and life-threatening ‘accidents’ occur. As Cam rescues chickens, plows her crops and turns her compost pile, she uncovers information that puts her life in danger but ultimately solves the murder.

Well-crafted writing and an interesting plot combine with a story brimming with useful information about farming, composting, raising chickens, selling at a Farmer’s Market and a few interesting recipes thrown in for good measure.

If you are drawn to conservation, gardening, farming or vegetarian cooking combined with a good mystery, this book will be of particular interest to you.

Reviewed by Elaine Faber, June 2014.
Author of Black Cat’s Legacy.

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They Danced by the Light of the MoonThey Danced by the Light of the Moon
An Andy Gammon Mystery
Tempa Pagel
Five Star/Cengage, February 2014
ISBN 978-1-4328-2799-1
Hardcover

Andy Gammon, in company with her mother-in-law, Mayta Gammon, attend the opening of the refurbished Grand Hotel of the Atlantic. At their dinner table, they meet a young woman whom, during a later tour of the building, they find murdered. Andy actually discovers her, and is privy to Claudia’s last breath and a cryptic clue to her murder. Armed with this scant evidence, Andy and Mayta set out to reveal the murderer, since they seem to be the only ones who link Claudia’s death with the story of a girl who, a hundred years earlier, had disappeared from this same room and was never heard from again.

Or was she?

The plot revolves around the mystery girl as well as a present-time relative whose health seems to be failing. Natural, or human caused? And if human caused, why? Andy needs to find out before it’s too late.

As written, the story develops along parallel lines, with accounts from the missing girl’s journal for the historical bits, and from Andy’s perspective in the present.

I don’t want any spoilers here, but I do want to say the author’s research into the care of mental patients in the early 1900s adds wonderful details, even though readers may find those details a little shocking. The strict confines of upper strata society, especially concerning a woman’s place, is also clearly drawn.

I recommend reading They Danced by the Light of the Moon for the history over the mystery.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, April 2014.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder.